Start a New Restaurant

“A daunting task, to say the least”
~ most restaurant owners

It starts with an idea, which entails a concept, a menu, a location, a price range, a target market, profit projections, and the like. Here are some steps we have used with most of our clients in the past which we have found to be highly successful and ensured longevity:

1. What is Your Vision? Describe the brand in terms of menus, location, target market, look & feel of the restaurant, number of seats, the bar component, unique selling proposition, etc. Just list your thoughts on a piece of paper.

2. Why is this concept going to be successful? You are going to need to justify this idea to yourself, investors, the bank, potential partners, and the landlord. Sample reasons are broad appeal, price/value proposition of the menu, uniqueness, management competence, enough capital, operating systems, etc.

3. What is this going to cost? Develop a capital budget of what you think this will cost in terms of build out, inventories, training, marketing professional fees, deposits, licenses and operating cash on hand. Overestimate your budget. Now, do you still want to do this?

4. What can the new restaurant generate in terms of sales and profits? What is your breakeven? Do you have other projections to use as a comparison?

5. Finding the right location. Choose the right broker to support this effort. Do the demographics of the various sites support your concept? How is the visibility of the site? How about parking? Rental rate? There is a long list. Before you start the search, figure out the number of seats you are going to need. After that, you can figure out the amount of square footage is required by multiplying the square footage of the seating (15 square feet per seat) by 2.25 to get the total square footage. Once this is done, negotiating the lease should be done by your broker to ensure you wind up with a financial deal that fits. You will need a comprehensive business plan for the landlord as well as others to show them your idea is well thought out.

Once you get this far then you will proceed with the following:

1. Interior/exterior floor plan and design. You need to attach a capital budget to this so you will know about what this is to cost. Identify the right architect and contractor. Make sure you have the right workflow. Do the finishes fall into your budget and do they match the brand? Make sure your agreement with the general contractor is clear and specific as to timeline, budget, change orders, payment schedule, etc.

2. Develop the menus. This will require some testing and tasting. You need to do this in a test kitchen.

3. Develop your operating systems. Policies & procedures are critical. You need to have operating systems, manuals, and an employee handbook that are specific to your business. You will need to develop a training plan for both hourly and salaried employees. You need to hire them as well. Select the right people for your staff. Choose the right POS system.

4. Restaurant bookkeeping & management reports. You need to know daily, weekly, and monthly where you are right from the get go.

5. Marketing plan. You need a pre-opening, grand opening, and post opening plan with a timeline and a budget. Who is to implement this? This should include media, public relations, neighborhood outreach, social media and in-store merchandising. Build a good website for your restaurant.

6. Ongoing operational support. For the first month or so, it is good to talk about operations with a qualified person and then have periodic checkups to discuss financials, goals & objectives, operational consistency, and adjustments to be made and how to implement them.

7. Independence. The role of a consultant is to teach you this and that so you can be an effective owner with proven operational systems while still being creative and entrepreneurial.