Checklist for opening a Restaurant 

Checklist for opening a restaurant

In our „How to open a restaurant“ series, you will find the most important elements for setting your business up for success. Discover our ultimate checklist to get started with your restaurant! 

Study the Market

1. Market analysis for opening a restaurant 

Restaurant market research

With your specific restaurant idea in mind, conduct a thorough market analysis. Research your desired location and consider its demographics and restaurant-landscape.

The area’s demographic should fit your desired target audience and your style of restaurant should match the vibes of the place you are looking to open your restaurant in.

You also need to screen the area for competitors and understand if your concept will fill a gap. 

Learn how to research your market 
Define Your Idea

2. Restaurant concept

Specify your idea and work your restaurant vision into a cohesive concept.

Define your restaurant style - be it a bar, café, street food, upper class dining, vegan healthy lunch, or a food truck. Your restaurant style determines your style of service, your type of food and your audience.

Based on these factors, plan the size of your restaurant, the number of your tables and your preferred opening hours. 

Establish Your Identity

3. Brand identity 

Woman eating at restaurant

Complementing your restaurant concept, you need to establish a brand identity that communicates your values, your philosophy and mission, as well as the value you add to your customers. Your brand should fit your target audience and convey your restaurant vibe.

Based on your restaurant’s identity and mission, choose a memorable name that is easy to spell and pronounce.  Once you come up with a name, check for its availability and create a professional logo with recognition value that you can use recurrently in your products, your website, and your ads.

How to build a brand identity
Create a Roadmap For Your Business

4. Business plan  

Sort all your ideas and thoughts on paper and write a business plan to set you up for success. A solid business plan includes an executive summary with your business name and brand, your business model and company overview, your market analysis, your operations plan including your staff and POS system, as well as a financial analysis.  

You can use a business plan template for your specific restaurant niche to help you outline the most important elements of your own specific restaurant business plan.

Learn how to write a gastronomy business plan
Funding & Financing

5. Finances 

Restaurant funding and financing

As with many other businesses, opening a restaurant requires a solid start-up capital.

Depending on your business model, your business partners and whether you are franchising or opening a brand-new one-of-a-kind store, your sources and level of needed capital will differ.

There are several options to get a business loan to help you fund your restaurant and get your business started. Credit unions, payment processing partners and commercial banks are good options to look into. You can also consider a small business loan or crowd funding if it fits your business model.

When mapping out your budget, remember that there are numerous ways to save costs and keep bills low in a gastro business. Check out our list of money saving habits as a restaurateur that will help you make the most of your budget.

How to reduce expenses
Restaurant Location

6. Location

Following your market analysis, choose a location that fits your restaurant style, identity, and target audience.

Whether you take over a previous restaurant location or rent a place that has to undergo renovations to function as an eatery, make sure to be cohesive with your style and brand. Remember that you can renovate and decorate on a budget by buying second hand and going for a simple and clean look.  

Find the perfect location for your restaurant
Find Your Suppliers

8. Local food supplier 

To run a restaurant, you need to source your ingredients from a good food supplier. Check and compare your local suppliers to get the best quality food for the lowest possible price. Try to find a vendor that provides all or almost all the ingredients you need. This way you can keep your ordering simple, save delivery fees and get discounts for buying in bulk.

Also consider which items on your menu you can buy pre-made and which ones you want to cook from scratch.

Electronical Equipment

9. Equipment & POS system

Restaurant Equipment and POS System

To be able to open your restaurant, you need the right equipment in place. From the essential kitchen equipment to your furniture, everything needs to be ready and set in place.   

To run your restaurant efficiently, you have to manage a lot of behind the scenes, internal processes very well. This requires you to have systems in place to:

  • schedule your staff,  
  • keep track of your inventory, 
  • track your sales.   

Invest in the right POS system that serves your specific needs best and enhances your staff- and costumer experience by providing you will all the hardware and software you need.  

get the right point-of-sale equipment
Do you want to improve or supplement your business workflows? Browse our wide range of products that will help you save time and money in your day-to-day routine. 
Browse our POS Systems
Hiring Staff

10. Staff

Finding the right kind of staff and keeping them is one of the most crucial steps to get your restaurant started and keep it running well.

Calculate your staff need well and decide which roles need to be filled in your restaurant team to run your business efficiently. Make sure you have enough hands-on deck when rush hours hit but be careful not to overstaff your shifts as well.

Hold interviews and look for people who identify with your brand’s mission and will contribute to your desired atmosphere and vibe. Decide on the wages of each role and establish a system to manage the payrolls, health insurance and other paperwork that you will need to handle for your staff.

Once you have established your team, make sure to train each employee well for their ascribed position.

More about hiring staff and roles in a restaurant
The Importance of Digital Marketing

11. Online appearance 

Restaurant online appearance

Having a spot-on online appearance in place before you open your restaurant will help you scale your sales significantly. Make sure you have the following features in place before you open:  

  • Google business profile 
  • Google Maps visibility 
  • A website that is modern and works seamlessly 
  • Online booking tool 
  • Social media account to engage with your customers  

These will help you generate a wider reach and cater to a variety of customer groups. 

How to digitalize your restaurant 
Promote Your Restaurant Business

12. Marketing strategy 

You will want to launch your marketing campaign a few months in advance to opening your restaurant. Create your ideal customer personas and personalize your advertisements to their characteristics. Create awareness for your new restaurant and get your target audience in the surrounding area of your location excited about your grand opening.   

Marketing your restaurant is important before you open but will always stay an important factor in your success. 

Learn more about what makes a great marketing strategy
Think about a Food Delivery Service

14. Delivery service 

Depending on your restaurant style and your target audience, you should provide a delivery service option for customers that want to buy your food but cannot make the time to come and sit in your restaurant due to busy work schedules or sheer inconvenience.

You’ll want your restaurant to either have its own delivery service strategy in place, or for it to be registered at a third-party delivery service provider that will deliver the ordered food for you. This way, you won’t miss out on those extra orders coming in.

Prepare for the Opening

15. Soft and Grand Opening

Once you have checked all the boxes mentioned above, it is time to open your restaurant! This is by far the most exciting part of your business journey up until now, after all your hard work and preparation.

To make the most of your grand opening to the public, consider hosting a soft opening first. This practice is widely known among restauranteurs. You invite your own and your staff’s friends and family, or any other limited crowd of choice to a soft opening party, where you can offer a special limited menu. This allows you and your team to practice for the real deal in a safe space, and smooth out any hiccups that might occur. This will also help your staff be more relaxed and feel better prepared for your real grand opening. You will also be able to gain some precious feedback from your soft opening guests that you can still implement before you open your restaurant to the public.

Finally, your grand opening is your time to attract your local customer crowd, impress them and make them want to come back for more. This day needs to be planned far in advance to be as successful as possible. The right marketing strategy, preparing your staff, hosting a soft opening, as well as planning the time, date and special offers for that day are all important factors to consider beforehand. Outdoor signage, window lettering and music can all be used for your benefit to draw people in on the day of your grand opening.


Making your restaurant dreams come true

This is our ultimate Checklist for opening your restaurant - if you checked all these points, you are ready to open your restaurant and run your business successfully. If you follow all our tips and tricks for how to open a restaurant and trust the process, you will be best equipped to make your restaurant dreams come true!

Frequently Asked Questions

16. FAQ - checklist for opening a restaurant

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