The Complete Checklist to Opening a New Restaurant

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Opening a new restaurant is exciting but stressful. There are a lot of decisions to be made and sometimes, it’s hard to keep track of everything that has to be done.

We created a 6 step streamlined checklist to help you navigate all the elements involved in the process of opening a new restaurant.

1 - Nail down your brand

Are you offering luxury or convenience?
How will you summarize your restaurant to customers, investors, or future employees? What’s your elevator pitch? What makes you different?

With your value proposition and business approach solidified, it’s time to move to the intangible—the brand.

Create a mood board of your restaurant. Exploring other restaurants and venues will help inspire you to translate your vision into life.

When you’re done, focus on a few elements, write out a pitch (value proposition), and share these with someone you trust.

Does it make sense to them? If so, you’re ready. If not, go back to the drawing board. Learn about what other restaurants are doing to create buzz and make a splash.

2 - Find the perfect location.

It’s important that your restaurant is accessible to your audience. High traffic means higher profits. All of this matters when picking a location.

Consider these factors: 

  • Target market: Who is your target audience? Where do they already go?
  • Market conditions: Have other restaurants in the area succeeded? Is there already-established foot traffic? Are the economic conditions favorable?
  • Competition: How does your restaurant compare to the others nearby? How can you compete? What can you offer that they aren’t?
  • Size of site: Is there enough room to fulfill the capacity you need to be successful? Is there kitchen space? Dining space? Storage space?
  • Previous tenants: Who was there before you? Why did they leave? Is the landlord responsible and fair?

All of these things should be considered when finding the perfect location for your store.

3 - Investigate software tools.

In today’s digital age, there are growing ways to introduce technology into your processes: there are payroll software to streamline staff hours into payroll and automate calculations, scheduling software to help managers track employee hours, tablets to help customers order themselves, and best of all -software systems that integrate with your POS - allowing you to pull sales and labor data and run reports.

And not only does technology help elevate efficiency, but it can also elevate the dining experience for customers (73% of diners agree that technology enhances their restaurant experience).Conduct an audit of your business and determine what technology would help your business. Your problems are unique: your technology choices should reflect that.

4 - Hire the right employees and management team.

With an average industry employee turnover rate of over 70%, it’s hard to hold onto employees, let alone find them.There’s different ways to go about it.

- Job boards are a great resource for getting started

- Referral programs can help you find people who are trusted

- Consultants have relationships and can help you meet people through networking

The amount of people you hire depends on the capacity of your restaurant, but, in general, you’ll need a head chef, a few sous chefs, waiters, hostesses, and a bartender (if you’re serving alcohol). First, focus your efforts on hiring a head chef: they’re the ones who will help you construct a menu, build a vision, and introduce a culture. Then, move to the staff.

5 - Create a cost effective menu when opening a new restaurant.

A menu can differentiate your restaurant. But, no matter how cool, innovative, and unique a menu is, at the end of the day, it needs to be built to make you money.

First, do some competitive research. Are your local competitors offering similar items? If so, what are their prices? Your customers will compare too—even if it’s subconscious. Then, with a range in mind, build your own menu and focus on your gross profit margin. Run the numbers and confirm that the prices are enough to set you up for bottom-line success.

Another tip for building a cost effective menu is to introduce balance for price fluctuations. Mix in less variable cost items like chicken and pasta dishes to support more variable dishes like local meat or fish. It can anchor your menu to be more consistent and easy to predict and control the margin.

6 - Look into restaurant consultants to streamline all processes.

To open a restaurant, you’ll have to make a lot of decisions. Despite how much research you do yourself, you won’t have all the answers. Consultants have expertise with the industry: they know what works and what doesn’t. They’re well-versed in budgets, management systems, and hiring. They work with you to find unique solutions. Hiring a consultant is an investment, but it can set your restaurant up for success.

We hope this was helpful in your journey to opening a new restaurant! Best of luck, I'm sure it will be delicious.

opening a new restaurant

Table of content

December 2020


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