How to start a restaurant
Opening a restaurant is a huge task not to be undertaken lightly. Whether you decide to buy a current restaurant or start your own from scratch, there are numerous jobs that need to be carried out before you open your doors to the paying public.
Get the Idea Behind the Restaurant Right
A lot of people get caught up in the idea of creating a niche and trying to find a revolutionary concept. The bottom line is most ‘concepts’ fail; stick with what you know and where you have a passion. If you have experience and a love of Italian food, for instance, don’t spend months trying to come up with a new concept. Most successful restaurants don’t try and reinvent the wheel; they just provide good food and good service in a comfortable environment with prices that give a perception of value for money. Busy restaurants rely on all of the above, not a groundbreaking concept
Write a Business Plan for your Restaurant
Even if you are in the lucky position of not needing a business plan for the purposes of getting funding, writing a business plan is essential to the success of the business. It will help you to develop ideas and avoid costly mistakes. It will also act as a road map to your opening.
Research Other Restaurants
Which restaurants are you trying to emulate? Why are they successful? Try and list every single reason for each customer being there and you’ll soon figure out the secrets of their success.
Find the Right Site for your Restaurant
It’s essential to get the right site for you. Don’t necessarily focus your attention on high street locations; you will be able to get larger premises situated off a main road for less, leaving you with more money left over for marketing to bring the punters in.
Focus on Service When Recruiting
Supermarkets sell food, restaurants sell service – remember that when looking for staff. Don’t focus too much on experience – the right person is more important. I would rather take on a bright, bubbly, friendly person with no experience than a serious old hand.
Choose an Appropriate Launch
Should you host a soft launch or hard launch for your restaurant? The answer to this question will be deemed entirely from the type of restaurant you are opening and your individual circumstances. Whatever you decide, it’s advisable to have a number of ‘dummy runs’ before launching a restaurant to the public. A restaurant dummy run works like this: invite friends and family as well as a few people from the local area to come and eat for free. Each table must order different dishes so that the kitchen, and the restaurant waiting staff, are both fully tested. Ask people to test the waiting staff, perhaps by asking about the ingredients of individual dishes.
People are allowed two courses for free but must pay for all drinks: that way you will still end up breaking even or making a small profit and the staff get fully tested when the restaurant is full. If mistakes are made then diners won’t mind much as they aren’t paying for the food. Always get each diner to fill in a questionnaire at the end of their meal and use this feedback when de-briefing the staff at the end of the evening. That way, the launching of your restaurant will go relatively smoothly!