There is a lot that goes into opening a restaurant. It may be a lifelong dream for a lot of people but knowing how to open a restaurant with no experience is a dating task. It’s not impossible but there is definitely a lot you need to know before starting the process.
Many people open a restaurant with no experience each year and succeed, but so many more fail. Thousands of restaurants close each year for a multitude of reasons and while anyone who starts a business knows that is a possibility, there are lots of precautions you can take to make sure you succeed.
Find a good location
If people don’t know you are open, they will not come. Spend time surveying the city or town you want to open up in and see where there’s a need for places to eat. If you open an Italian eatery on a block with two pizza places and a pasta joint, you will have to work extremely hard to stand out. The chance of success in a scenario like this is quite slim, especially if existing business are doing well.
Look for a neighborhood with a few restaurants. Scope out space and talk to people nearby to see what they might like to see. The answer may surprise you. If you are looking in an area with lots of business people, they may be looking for more places to grab breakfast and lunch or a good cup of coffee. A fancy dinner or brunch eatery may not do well in this area.
When looking at store fronts, make sure you know how much space you need for preparing, serving and storage. You don’t want to pay more rent or overheard if you don’t need it but you also don’t want to have to be cramped in your space.
Know who you are
Almost as important as location is a clear concept. A lot of restaurants fail when they don’t know what they are doing. Do you want to be a sit down, table serve restaurant? Do you want to be fast and casual?
Make sure this is clear and set in stone so customers aren’t confused. People who come into a restaurant and expect one thing but get another are unlikely to return. They’ll also mostly like spread the word about a bad experience making more potential lost customers. On the other hand though, if they get exactly what is expected they are likely to give a pleasant review and tell friends and family to come give you a shot.
As you are surveying locations, survey what other kinds of restaurants are in the neighborhood you settle on. You can try to be experimental and open something wild, but a good and safe rule, if you don’t have any experience, is to try something that is more likely to succeed based on what the location warrants.
You Know More than you Think
While you may be going into this with no restaurant experience, you probably have experience in other areas that can help you as your business starts.
Most jobs have transferrable skills from one area to another. There are lots of important things a restaurant owner needs to have besides the ability to cook and pay bills. You need accounting knowledge, people skills, meditation techniques, human resources skills and interview skills.
You’ll also need to be a good negotiator for many aspects of this process. From getting your loans to negotiating a good price on food from a vendor or asking an employee to take an extra shift.
All of these things are a part of making a business that runs smoothly with happy employees, customers and management.
While you will most likely want to hire a tax or money professional to help with finances and tax preparation, knowing some of the basics will be crucial. Having an idea of the amount of money coming in and out can help you know how things are going and if things need to be changed or if something is wrong.
Commitment is key
You can figure out how to open a restaurant with no experience but something you can’t fake is being present. Opening a restaurant is going to require an exponential amount of time on your part. You may set your business hours to be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. but do not expect those to be the only hours you are working. Preparations need to be done ahead of time and clean up is done when those hours end.
Opening a business is a huge commitment and especially in the beginning, you will need to be reachable and ready to work at all times.
This is made easier if you are passionate about the business you choose to open. It’s very challenging to go to work in a place you aren’t passionate about. Even if every moment isn’t fun, if you are passionate and committed to your concept it makes those long hours much more manageable.
If running a restaurant has always been a dream of yours, know that it is possible. But it’s going to take hours of blood, sweat and tears to make it a success. It is more than just renting space and getting the keys, you need a well-researched concept and in a neighborhood that needs what you have to offer. This may be the most challenging part. But once you find a concept you believe in and find others to help you who feel the same way, success is more likely to come your way.
Lots of restaurants fail but mostly because they are mismanaged or they are opening in an area where they are not needed and no one comes. There is so much potential in having your own eatery and it can be an incredibly rewarding life.