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How to start a restaurant

Eating out with family or friends at a restaurant is one of the things most people like to do. It is not just for a leisurely meal that people go to restaurants;they may visit during lunch hours to grab a quick bite. Restaurants are eateries where people visit to have food and snacks on the premises or take it out to have later. There are various types of restaurants; they include fast food outlets, breakfast outlets, casual dining restaurants, fine dining restaurants, etc.

The food business is a lucrative one and as long as you can maintain quality, starting a restaurant is a good business idea. Whether you have a degree in hotel management or not you can start a restaurant if you know the basics of the business and have the burning desire to achieve success.If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur and want to capitalize on the thriving food business by starting a restaurant, here’s how you can do it

Decide the concept and select the location

The concept of your restaurant needs to be finalized. You could start a fine dining restaurant that caters to families, couples, and groups who want to dine in comfort. You can plan a fast food outlet, where you will have a constant flow of customers. You can specialize in the cuisine you plan to offer, e.g.: Mediterranean, Chinese, Continental, etc. You can even decide to offer only vegan or vegetarian food. It all depends on your idea and most importantly the market study.

To start a restaurant, you need to decide on the location. It must be convenient for customers to visit. There must be access to parking. The real estate rates in the area must also be within your budget. A comprehensive market study is essential before you can start a restaurant. The study will tell you what customers in and around the area want. You can use this as an input to decide your concept. You can also decide if you want to target a particular segment of customers or offer options for different customers. (egg: multi-cuisine vs. Thai).

Make a business plan

So far, you have chalked out a clear idea for your restaurant. You now need to convert the idea into a concrete plan. You can create a business plan with details of your concept, how you plan to operationalize your concept, what will be your expenses, how much you are expecting to earn, when you can break even, and other such key issues. The business plan should focus on your business model, which explains how you are going to make money. The business plan is very useful when you want to raise funds for your business. It explains your concept to potential lenders or investors.

Assemble a core team

If you are a chef yourself, that’s half the battle won. If not, you need a good chef and someone who knows the in and out of the restaurant business. They can either be your partners or be a part of the core team that will manage your business. Your core team must have those with expertise in food preparation, restaurant operations management, accounts, and marketing. You need to include the profile of the core team in your business plan so that potential investors know that you have the work force needed to operationalize your idea.

Design the layout

One of the key aspects is the layout of your restaurant. The layout design can be a part while making the business plan or later. The layout is important, as space management is an important part of running restaurants. The layout should have the seating arrangements, location of the kitchen, cash counter, etc. The layout should facilitate quick and easy movement of staff and customers. The layout depends on the type of restaurant – fast food outlets need to have a different design than fine dining restaurants.

Raise funds

If you do not have the money to start a restaurant, you need to raise funds. You can do it by approaching lenders like banks or financial institutions. You can also approach investors who are willing to invest money in your venture. The business plan and the presentation of your concept will help you get the funds you need for your new restaurant. You need to convince the investor/lender that you can run a successful venture.

Get approvals

You may need to register your restaurant as a legal entity. Licenses are required from local authorities. All these are very important and need to be completed at the earliest. You will not want to face a situation where action is taken by authorities for not having a license/permit. Talk to local authorities, find out details of all approvals needed, and complete the formalities.

Start work at the location

You may start the restaurant at your own premises or a rented location. You need to construct the building (if not already available). The interiors need to be designed. You need to select a theme for the design and colors. Choose design and colors related to your concept. For e.g.: plant-based theme for a vegan restaurant, aqua theme for a sea food restaurant. Storage space, cleaning area and amenities for customers (waiting area, restrooms) need to be made available.

Acquire resources

You need competent people to work in all departments. The chef and restaurant manager play a major role in the success of a restaurant. So, get the best persons for these positions. You need other resources like equipment for food preparation, ovens, tables, cutlery, and other such items. You need supplies like vegetables, meats, and other products. Find quality vendor(s) who can supply items regularly.

Launch operations

Once everything is ready, you are good to go. Have a marketing plan to promote your new restaurant. Try to launch with a bang by having an inauguration with important guests. Once your restaurant starts, you need to be involved in its daily operations so that you dream of becoming a successful restaurateur comes true.