What Does it Take to Open a Restaurant?

Food service has never been a more popular industry, with the number of operations rising from approximately 155,000 in the 1970s to an incredible 960,000 today. As today’s working professionals balance their busy lifestyles, the appeal of dining out or ordering food through delivery services like Postmates or Seamless has only increased. If you have dreams of opening your own restaurant, there’s never been a better time. The competition might be fierce, but the novelty of your restaurant will inevitably draw a crowd.

Write a detailed business plan.

Contrary to the prevailing myth that food service is a “get rich quick” industry, many extremely talented chefs fail to get their restaurant off the ground and have to close down within a year due to a lack of foresight. Planning is key. Speak to any restaurant owner in your city and you’ll quickly learn that they didn’t reach their success by winging it. All of the most successful restaurants are launched upon the foundation of a thorough, strategic business plan.

Prepare for your bank interviews.

Lenders know the restaurant business is high-risk. Gather all the documents you intend to present in your interview, including your business plan, your personal financial statement, three years of personal tax returns, a recent credit report, and your criminal background check. Once you’ve developed your business plan, your next step should be to prepare for interviews with financiers. Solidify your elevator pitch, speak with confidence, and bring all the necessary documentation. Be aware that you might have to speak to a few banks before obtaining your loan. Don’t take it personally, and don’t give up.

Learn what licenses and permits you need.

While every type of local business requires a business license, food-service operations are more highly regulated than other types of businesses due to health and safety standards. Before you even think about interior design or the menu, you’ll need to learn the local, state, and federal regulations required of all new restaurant owners. You’ll need a food service license, and, if you intend to serve alcohol, a liquor license. The latter can take up to a year to receive, and application fees can be costly, so decide if you’re willing to soft launch your business before you get it.

Budget realistically.

While it’s tougher today to open a restaurant on a shoestring budget than in past generations, it’s still very much doable. According to statistics, restaurant owners typically overestimate their budget in a few specific areas. To ensure you make a profit, avoid overspending on cutting-edge new technology, ambitious marketing campaigns, remodeling, equipment, and even food expenses. If you can cut costs in any of these areas, you’re more likely to maintain success over the long term. Looking to buy glassware and dinnerware in bulk? There are plenty of affordable retailers that provide restaurant startups with all the products they need at fair prices, such as VEGA Direct Inc.

Respect your clientele.

For diners with specific dietary needs, restaurants that cater to vegan diets, gluten intolerance, and more are not only convenient but necessary. If you are uncertain whether to include vegan, vegetarian, or dairy-free options in your menu, consider that today’s population has never been more health-conscious, and many busy professionals simply don’t have the time to cook anymore. As such, they rely on local eateries to provide them with food that is suitable for their diet and has health benefits. Many more people simply choose to limit their intake of wheat, gluten, and dairy for health reasons. Providing a service to the public that your competition doesn’t is guaranteed to help you gain a positive reputation in your community.

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