What to Consider Before Opening a Restaurant

Is running a restaurant your dream job? Considering that the National Restaurant Association projects that 2019 restaurant industry sales will reach $863 billion, you’ve made a good choice! But, not everything is so dreamy about opening a restaurant. Taking into account the following factors will help you develop a clear business plan.

Your Target Market

Simply opening a restaurant doesn’t mean people will flock to it. According to CNBC, 60% of restaurants fail within the first year. To prevent that from happening to you, you need to do a bit of your own research.

Study your competition. Why do people like them? Why don’t they like them? What could you offer that they can’t? You need a clear picture of your target market. It will help you with every next step you take. Whenever considering other aspects of running a business, always have your target customer in mind.

How do you imagine your ideal customer looks like? Consider the lifestyle, age, and income level of someone you’d like to see walk through the doors of your brand new restaurant. How does that person spend their time? What do they value the most? Where do they live?

It may be a good idea to hire an expert who could help you build a buyer persona. Answering these questions will help you get a clear picture of the types of people you’d want to be your regular patrons.

Your Unique Factor

What would you like to hear people say after they’ve been to your restaurant? You probably wouldn’t want them to say something like, “It’s a generic Mexican place, just like the other three in town.” But, “It’s a Mexican restaurant where they serve huge margaritas, make their own salsa, and have live mariachi music” sounds much better.

In a diner’s mind, your restaurant needs to stand out as one-of-a-kind and valuable. Be sure to think about how you can make your restaurant different than the rest? And, again, keep your target customer in mind while doing so.

Go into details, as much as you can. For instance, if you want to cater to business people, you could give out complimentary newspapers in the morning. You can also drop by your favorite restaurant and study the regulars. It could help you come up with an idea on how to cater to your patrons.

Your Location

More and more consumers like the idea of finding a hidden gem people around them don’t know about yet. Nowadays, destination dining is huge. But, that doesn’t mean you get to be too quirky. Unless you have an industry-leading marketing team and two Michelin stars, opening a restaurant in a lesser-known neighborhood behind a laundromat is not such a great idea.

The biggest reason restaurants fail is because they have poor patronage. And, such restaurants have poor patronage because they’re an inconvenient option. If you’re building a restaurant around a fast, casual, and quick service concept, this is even more of a factor.

Your spot can make or break your business. Analyze the foot traffic in the area when you’re scouting a location. That means spending a whole day measuring the traffic at each potential spot.

Your Building

But, “the map” isn’t the only factor here. What about your building? Would you want to rent? Buy one? Or perhaps build one from scratch?

There are many considerations here of which you are probably unaware of if you haven’t done something like this before. Let’s say you want to buy or rent. How safe is the building? Is it already designed to be a commercial kitchen?

If it is, you need to inspect it for damage and safety hazards. You need to have someone inspect things like the kitchen extract ductwork and building infrastructure in order to make sure it’s safe. If you plan on making adjustments, making sure to check out local zoning laws.

The building must meet accessibility requirements, restroom requirements, commercial kitchen, code requirements. If your planning on renting or buying a place, you must have a professional inspect it. And, if you’re building it yourself, you must always keep these factors in mind. This is something that won’t stop after you open a restaurant. You’ll always have to take care of such details.

Your Staff

In the restaurant industry, the turnover rate is quite high. But, that won’t make your employees disposable. You can’t afford to employ people randomly. For a successful restaurant, you need the best people available.

Fill every position with care—from the restaurant manager that needs to be professional and personable to the dishwasher that needs to be a team player.

When it comes to the success of your business, each member of your staff will play an important role. If you don’t plan on being the head-chef, you need to find a professional chef that has the right experience and with whom you see eye to eye. An experienced chef can help you build your back of house team.


Opening a restaurant takes as much as work as running one. And, that will just be the beginning of your adventure. But, if you have the right determination and the right information, you are already one step closer to making your dream come true.

Clare Louise

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