Before Opening A Restaurant, Consider This Expert Advice

Talia Voss
January 21, 2022

Looking to learn how to open a restaurant? Congratulations! Now pump the breaks. Investing in a new business can be exciting but it’s important to be aware of the key factors that play a role in ensuring the restaurant you open will be a profitable and successful venture!  

We recently connected with several top restauranteurs, consultants and food business owners to gather advice on what to consider before opening a restaurant.  
Here's what they had to say!

1 - Have a solid business plan.

Coming in at number one, and recommended by most of the restaurant experts as their top piece of advice Have a solid business plan.

There is a lot to consider when building out a restaurant business plan, and it will impact your business hugely. High level, a restaurant business plan should include the following topics:

  1. Branding, Name & Vision
  2. Design Concept
  3. Menu Concept
  4. Operational Structure
  5. Restaurant Technology
  6. Service Style
  7. Market Research
  8. Demographic Research
  9. Location Details
  10. Marketing Plan
  11. Launch Plan & Timeline
  12. Consultants & Specialists
  13. Financials & Funding

If you are looking to open a restaurant, we always recommend working with a professional team of consultants who can help you lock in a restaurant business plan that is second to none.

Have a solid business plan to ensure you have all the concepts and details sorted out. Build out the financial model to ensure you can afford to open a restaurant and understand the ongoing costs.
- Jenny Companion, VP, Consulting & Operations, The Fifteen Group

2 - Establish the type of operations.

Number two on our list - consider the type of operation you want to open. Do you want to purchase a franchise or open a local restaurant? There are pros and cons to both.

Opening your own restaurant means more decisions and responsibilities. You have to determine a menu, an operational system, staff policies, a name, a brand, etc. It puts you in the driver’s seat, but it means more time and higher risk.

With franchising, you adopt a successful method, but you may have to make a substantial investment. Evaluate the approach you’d prefer before opening a restaurant, and create your plans based on that. As Chris from the Fifteen Group mentions, all restaurants, regardless of type, are business first.

Restaurants are a business first. Know what your costs are and how to control them.
- Chris Knight, Hospitality Operations Consultant,
The Fifteen Group

3 - Money, budgets, and pricing.

Good negotiating can get you the price you want, and EVERYTHING is negotiable!
Buying an established restaurant? Consider bargaining for their used equipment in tandem with purchasing the property. It’s a win-win:  it can help your budget and streamline their sales processes. Throughout the entire negotiation process, keep in mind—theoretically—they want to sell (at least when logic trumps emotional attachment).
Don’t be afraid to offer something within your budget to see if they’ll budge.

In the same breath, establishing your budget early on in your business plan (and sticking to it) is paramount to the financial success of your establishment.

Ensure you have a solid business plan to understand the financial viability and return.
- Steven Wright, Consultant,
The Fifteen Group

4 - Make good hiring a top priority.

Opening a restaurant or franchise is a big decision. There are a lot of moving parts, and a million things to consider, but in the end, it's the people who really matter.

That is why hiring the right people is a huge key when it comes to establishing success in the food service industry. Consider taking the time to decide on what type of candidate you are looking to hire in advance. Ask around to ensure you are asking the right server or staff interview questions, and seeking candidates with the right qualifications.

Building a team of people who are a vibe or culture fit will set the tone for your restaurant for many years to come. Food service is service after all - that's people first.

Know that hiring is the most important thing you will do in the beginning of your journey.
- Colin Denton, Owner, Kokomo

5 - Get good advice.

When it comes to buying a profitable restaurant, you don’t have all the answers (or even know all the questions), and that’s okay. Instead of relying on your gut instincts and personal experience in the industry, look into hiring restaurant consultants or a restaurant broker to help mitigate the decisions you're making.

Consultants and experts will be aware of common pitfalls and patterns of success to help you build a successful foundation for your restaurant. Restaurant consultants can help you set up everything from a menu plan, to selecting what software to use to run your store.

The long and the short of it is that setting up shop can be tricky, and using a professional consulting agency is well worth it.

Focus on what you are the best at, and outsource everything else to experts.
- Jim Taylor, Owner,
TaylorCo Consulting & BenchmarkSixty

6 - Make sure you are fully bought in.

In the beginning, opening and running a restaurant can look like a labor of love.
Long hours, challenging profit margins, and steep competition are not conducive to an easy launch. But if you love what you do, it will all be worth it. Restaurant experts in the industry advise that you consider the challenges that come with opening up shop, especially in a 2022 post pandemic world. Know what you are in store for, and if you are still in - be fully bought in.

Ensure that you are ready for working long days, weekends, holidays, and nights - and that you love customer service.
- Tim Cuff CCC, Chef Consultant,
The Fifteen Group

7 - Consider the location first.

Before you say yes to the location, consider what you are going to be building - and where it should go.

Location matters, but you shouldn't rush into it before you have a game plan locked in. Once you do, and you are ready to start shopping, be sure to consider proximity to office buildings (especially if you offer lunch), movie theaters (especially if you offer dinner), malls, schools, etc. Higher traffic means more sales, and more sales means higher profitability.

Be sure that your restaurant is in a location that fits the demographic you are wanting to target, and that it is easily accessible to all who may wish to check it out.

Create a business plan and work out your ideas, concept, menu and budget before taking on a space.
- Chris Knight, Hospitality Operations Consultant,
The Fifteen Group

Want more expert advice? 

Want to learn more about what the experts have to say when it comes to leading a restaurant team, increasing restaurant profits, or streamlining operations? 
Download the free ask an expert report below for leading restaurant industry insights from professionals.


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