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10 Essential Tips for Starting Your Own Restaurant

Tables outside restaurant.

Image by Skitter Photo

Many people dream of opening up their own restaurants, but very few are brave enough to take the plunge. That’s not surprising – any restauranteur will tell you that starting a restaurant isn’t easy. And, while the oft-quoted statistic that 90% of restaurants fail in their first year is not actually true, it is a fact that opening a restaurant is not a business venture for anyone looking to get rich quick.

Still, new restaurants are opening in the UK every day. With the right business idea, a bit of expertise, some start-up funding and a lot of hard work, there’s no reason you can’t make your own restaurant succeed.

To help get you started, here are our top 10 tips to starting a restaurant.

  • 1.     Be realistic

Ah, to be a restaurateur. Long lunches over a bottle of wine. Friendly regulars who are always smiling. Escaping the nine-to-five grind. What’s not to love?

If you think running a restaurant is going to be anything like that, think again. That’s the fantasy; the reality is very different. If you already work in the restaurant industry, you’ll know this. If you don’t, go get some experience. If you don’t fancy quitting your day job to wait tables and wash dishes, then the realities of running a restaurant probably aren’t for you.

  • 2.     Decide what type of restaurant you want

Ethnic eatery or traditional British fare? Family friendly or more for the millennials? Fine dining or fast food? Before you do anything, you need to have a clear idea of your restaurant concept.

By far the most important thing about your restaurant concept is that it’s something you’re passionate about and can honestly imagine devoting yourself to, day in and day out, for years to come. Be honest with yourself and what your skills and interests are, and don’t try to jump on any food trend bandwagons just because they’re popular at the moment.

  • 3.     Do your research

Once you’ve got a restaurant concept in mind, it’s time to research its viability. Where should your restaurant be located? Is there a market for your concept there? What is the competition like? And how much do business rentals in the area cost?

You might have to adjust your initial concept at this stage – in fact, you almost certainly will. Just ensure that you don’t end up wandering too far from your original idea without realising, in the spirit of making compromises. It’s surprisingly easy to do.

  • 4.     Learn about the rules and regulations

If you’re not one for paperwork, forget about starting and running your own restaurant. Before starting a restaurant, there are a number of regulatory hoops that have to be jumped through – from registering your business with the local authority to ensuring your staff have the right food hygiene certificates.

Fortunately, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have a number of useful resources to help get you started, including a guide to starting a food business and a Safer Food, Better Business for Caterers information pack.

  • 5.     Write a business plan

A comprehensive business plan is essential to ensuring that you stay on budget and on track. It should include market research and financial information, and provide anyone reading it with an in-depth understanding of your business idea, not to mention the initial start-up costs and long-term financial forecasts involved.

If, at the end of compiling your business plan, you realise your start-up costs are sky high, go back and refine it further until it seems more manageable. A sound financial plan is essential to the next step.

  • 6.     Secure start-up capital

Whether you’re launching a Michelin restaurant or a hot dog stand, a restaurant is always going to require significant start-up capital – enough to cover initial costs and at least six months of running costs.

Ideally, you’ll be able to cover these initial costs using your own savings, or with the help of loans from friends or family, but if this isn’t an option then you’re going to need a business partner or bank loan. Whatever the case, this is where having an airtight business plan is of paramount importance – no one is going to invest in someone whose numbers don’t add up.

  • 7.     Hire the right people

A restaurant owner can’t do everything at once, so bring a great team on board who are just as passionate and excited about this project as you are.

In particular, take your time when it comes to finding the right chef. Your restaurant is only as good as the food it serves, and if your chef can’t deliver, no amount of marketing or quality service can compensate for that.

  • 8.     Get the restaurant ready to launch

Once you’ve signed a lease on a property, it can be tempting to rush preparations and open your doors to the paying public at once. But you only get one chance to make a first impression – so hold fire, and make sure you get it right.

If your restaurant needs any renovations or alterations, get them done now. Use this time to make sure that everything’s up to code. And decorate the interior and exterior to ensure that they accurately reflect your restaurant concept and create an inviting ambience.

  • 9.     Make a menu

Work together with your head chef to create the perfect menu. Try to keep it short and sweet – it’ll keep your kitchen running smoothly and food waste to a minimum, and customers generally find long menus overwhelming anyway.

It is advisable to provide at least some options for customers with dietary requirements, or at the very least to clearly mark which dishes can be adapted to accommodate special diets if required.

  • 10.  Get ready for hard work

Once the restaurant is open, say goodbye to weekends and holidays for the foreseeable future. The hard work doesn’t end here; in fact, it’s only just begun. As the owner, it’ll be your job to keep the hundreds of plates required to keep your restaurant running spinning – from marketing and hiring staff to tapering menus and filing taxes.

But, if you love the restaurant business, it’ll all be worth it.

How can Simply-Docs help?

Starting a business is difficult enough, so why waste time and money drafting complicated documents or paying a solicitor to do it for you? At Simply-Docs, we provide a wide range of fully customisable, ready-to-use documents that are ideal for entrepreneurs.

Restaurateurs may be particularly interested in our employment documents, which include all the policies, forms, letter templates and employment contracts necessary to recruit, manage and dismiss employees. We also offer a variety of health and safety documents, plus food and hygiene documents which include all the H&S documents and templates a restauranteur will need when starting a business,

For more information about our services, contact our friendly team today.

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