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Opening a Restaurant Checklist

Guest Apr 5th 2019

Opening a Restaurant Checklist

For many people, opening a restaurant is a lifelong dream. But as with most dreams, making it come true can be challenging. Someone doesn’t become a restauranteur overnight. In fact, opening a restaurant is often a long, drawn-out process that can wear down even the most passionate potential restauranteurs. This post will make the process a bit easier by providing a simple-to-follow checklist for opening a restaurant.

Decide On Your Restaurant Concept

Owners always have the option of franchising an already well-established restaurant. While doing so requires them to pay a franchising fee upfront, it also gives them immediate brand recognition. The built-in customer base provides a leg up on the local competition. But for owners who want to craft a restaurant in their own vision, proper time and consideration should be given to the restaurant concept.

Your restaurant concept includes its food, menu, atmosphere, and service style. Even your restaurant’s name should make sense in the context of everything else. Ideally your concept should be unique enough to differentiate your foodservice from other establishments. But at the same time, a concept that is too unique might alienate potential customers. So it’s a delicate balancing act. Food is the foundation of any successful restaurant, so try to base your concept around what dishes you offer.


It’s always best to thoroughly scout surrounding areas before buying or leasing a building. After all, you don’t want to open a pizzeria down the street from a town’s favorite pizza joint. The more foot traffic a location receives, the more potential customers you’ll have. Of course, buildings in busier locations are costlier. It’s also important to know the demographics of your community. If you’re in a college town, fast food and fast casual will likely fare much better than fine dining establishments.

The savvy move when it comes to identifying a good location is to find an up-and-coming area that’s undervalued in the real estate market. If you anticipate the area will receive more traffic in the near future, it could make a perfect location of your restaurant. Buying or leasing a building that was previously set up as a restaurant can help save you some money. Rather than having to do construction to set up gas and water lines, everything will already be in place.

Raise Funds

If you’re wondering how to open a restaurant with no money, the simple answer is to get some. Cash is just another of the many things needed to start a restaurant. So whether you want to borrow it from a friend or a family member, take out a loan, or just dip into your savings, you’ll want to figure out the money situation upfront. After all, there’s no point in putting in hundreds of hours into brainstorming and research if you don’t have the wherewithal.

If you’re relying on investors to fund your restaurant, you’ll likely have to present a detailed business plan. And even if you’re not relying on outside investors, formulating a business plan is a great way to know exactly where you’re going. A good business plan should include everything about your restaurant – concept, location, revenue projections, estimated costs, and local competition are just some of the many topics it should cover.

Equipment / Supplies

Commercial kitchens operate most smoothly when they’re outfitted with the right restaurant equipment. Different types of kitchens require different appliances. So what you need will largely depend on what type of establishment you’re opening. If you plan to open a fast food restaurant, be sure to reference our fast food restaurant equipment list for a breakdown of the essentials.

Secure Licenses / Permits

The proper licenses and permits are essential requirements for a restaurant. A business license is the first thing you’ll need. If you plan to sell alcohol, you’ll need a liquor license as well. Proper protocol for attaining these licenses varies depending on your exact location. So either ask other restauranteurs or search the Internet for what needs to be done.

Once construction is finished and its equipment is in place, you’ll have the option to schedule a pre-opening health inspection. These types of inspections aren’t mandatory. And although they can delay your opening, they also help you correct issues before they become too serious. There’s no grade involved with these inspections, but the comments do become part of the public domain. So if you’re unsure if your restaurant satisfies local requirements, consider hiring a consultant who can let you know if your set-up looks okay.

Hiring Employees / Training Procedure

Although the role of robots in restaurants continues to expand, actual human employees are still important as ever. That’s why hiring the right people should be a top priority for restaurant owners. After all, service is one of the aspects that customers most remember about their meal. Good service enhances the experience, while bad service can scare patrons off forever. When hiring servers, experience and personality should always be considered. If you think a friend or family member would make sense as a hire, you should be 100% sure. The last thing you want is for your business to get in the way of your personal relationships.

When it comes to how to start a restaurant business, there’s no one path to follow. Everyone approaches it differently, so do what’s right for you. The one bit of advice that all restauranteurs should heed is to not rush into it. Starting a business is expensive and time-consuming. So always take time when making important decisions that could potentially affect the fate of your restaurant.