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What to Know Before Deciding to Open Your Own Restaurant
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November 16, 2023
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Your friends rave about the things you prepare. Guests never turn down an invite to dinner. Being your own boss in your own restaurant seems the natural next step. Before quitting that day job and jumping in, here’s some things you should know:

First, should you start from scratch or buy an existing restaurant?

Buying an Existing Restaurant
LiveAbout.com provides a blog about the things you should consider when buying an existing restaurant. The blog expands on each of these items.

Here is the list:

1) Why is the restaurant being sold?

2) Look at the finances,

3) Are there tax problems or legal issues?

4) Location?

5) Reputation

6) What is it you are buying (whole brand or bare bones)?

 

Starting from Scratch
Squareup.com provides a list of ten steps to implement before starting your own restaurant.

Here is Squareup’s list:

1) Define your restaurant concept.

2) Create a business plan for your restaurant. SCORE has a template for a startup business plan and a blog on tips for writing a restaurant business plan.

3) Price restaurant equipment. Purchasing equipment for your restaurant can get expensive quickly. You need to be strategic. Toast offers a blog on the essential restaurant equipment.

4) After assessing how much it will cost to fund your restaurant, research funding options for your restaurant. Restaurantengine.com has an article on restaurant funding.

5) Determine and/or obtain licenses and permits needed to open a restaurant. There are state, county and city requirements for restaurants. Here is the California state quick start guide for restaurants, bakeries and bars. Consult the county or city where you plan to open for their requirements which could differ.

6) Register your business with the Federal government () Here is the link to register with the IRS to receive your Employer Identification Number. This is your business identification in order to file taxes. Also consider trademarking your restaurant’s name. Here is the US Patent Office site for trademarking a business name.

7) Select the right location and space configuration. A useful blog on the importance of location can be found at sanluisobispo.score.org. Also, Modern Restaurant Management provides some guidelines for designing the interior of your restaurant.

 

When you have done your research and planning

Hire the right staff.
Make a list of how much staff you need to run your front of house and back of house efficiently. Toast reviewed its own data, owners of restaurants and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to compile a list of the right staff for a restaurant. Then get to hiring. While you’re doing that, you should also decide if you want to process payroll yourself or use payroll software. Just keep in mind that restaurant payroll can get quite complex, especially with varying state/federal/local laws and regulations around wages and tips.

Create a menu.
Your menu is the centerpiece of your restaurant and should reflect your concept and brand. But it’s also a marketing tool that can help convince new customers to try your restaurant. Your descriptions should be concise but appeal to your audience. Open Table has a set of 10 key tips for creating a menu from scratch. The article also contains quick links to the menu creation and updating process.

Create a marketing plan.
Before you open a restaurant, it’s important to develop a marketing plan that drives awareness, brings in new customers, and creates a loyal following. Marketing tactics you might use include everything from social media to hosting a soft opening that drives hype. RestoHub, a seller of restaurant management software has an article that describes tips for creating a marketing plan plus covers subtopics such as solidifying your brand, digital marketing resources, calendaring, and other essential parts of a marketing plan. Adentro , a technology company that tracks customer wi-fi use, provides a typical marketing plan for a restaurant.

A last word from Squareup
Squareup.com provided 3 words of wisdom from successful restaurant owners as you open your restaurant.

1)Stay resilient
Tod Wilson, the owner of the prosperous Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory in New Jersey, will be the first to tell you that this process isn’t always easy. Tod was the first winner on Shark Tank in 2009, but he faced much adversity along the way when he was trying to get his business up and running. What advice does Tod offer about success? He stresses the need for resiliency. “Keep fighting. Every time I find myself in a tough position, I think about that. You have to just get up after you get knocked down,” said Tod. “Whether it’s a product recall, not getting an order in, or losing a new hire, you have to be able to bounce back.”

2) Make a great first impression
The owner of Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing emphasizes the first-time experience for a customer. You essentially have one time to get it right and make an impression on a first-time customer. If guests have one bad experience, “odds are they’ll never try it again.”

3) Stay true to your brand
Young Han is the head of community outreach at Philz Coffee and believes you should “never forget why you started. Always circle back to that and stay true to your core.”

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