5 Essential Things You Need to Open a Restaurant (in 2020)

While every business comes with its own set of risks and hard work, having your own restaurant can turn into one of the most thrilling experiences of your life. The future looks bright for the food-service industry, with over 1 million restaurants in the U.S alone. However, nothing is guaranteed in this niche. 

Even the most successful restaurant owners will tell you that this isn’t a “get rich quick” business scheme. Rather, it’s more a kind of a “work real hard and make a living” industry. 

This doesn’t mean that it is out of your reach. On the contrary. With the right equipment, location, business plan, and some other stuff, you will be well on your way to the stars. (Five of them, that is). Without further ado, here are five essential things you need to open a restaurant in 2020.

The Right Location
It doesn’t matter how big of a restaurant you want to open, location will always be the most crucial factor of its future success. Not every space fits every restaurant. A great location isn’t easy to find. 

What may appear at first like a perfect spot - for instance, a street full of pedestrians in the heart of downtown may turn into a bad investment later on. On the other hand, a place you would never think to put a restaurant - an old building in a former industrial zone - may turn into a success. Consider factors like:

  • Competition in the vicinity.
  • Accessibility and visibility.
  • Labor costs and minimum wages.
  • Parking.

A solid business plan
One that you didn’t write on a napkin, for starters. You’ll need a complex, detailed business plan that can determine the right course toward the restaurant’s success. Look at as a sort of a living document that you’ll return to often to help you prepare for scaling and measure your progress.

The business plan will need to include market research, complex competitor analysis, even more, complex customer analysis, a basic marketing plan, and a comprehensive budgeting and financial projection. While you plan the design of your restaurant, remember to watch out for industry trends. As with any budding business, timing is king.

There isn't a company in this world that can grow without effective marketing. It's the lifeblood of your business. The only way to increase sales. As such, it's crucial that you promote your restaurant.

While there are a lot of ways to market your restaurant, from offline advertising like radio, TV, and local papers, a social media marketing campaign is way more effective at bringing in new customers and checking out the competition. 

These days, the best social networks for restaurant marketing are Instagram and Facebook. Especially the first, as it is the number one social media app for engagement with restaurant brands. Remember to add to your Instagram profile as much information as possible. For instance:

  • Business hours,
  • Location,
  • A link to the restaurant's website

Since video is the most consumed content on the Internet, it's crucial that you use it in your social media marketing strategy. With it, you'll be able to promote new specials, offer cooking tutorials, showcase your employees, give a "behind the scenes" look to your audience, and even do an interview with your cook or chef. You shouldn't also neglect influencer marketing.

Equipment setup and maintenance
A successful restaurant requires the equipment it can depend on. When you invest in a good-quality apparatus, in the beginning, you will make sure that repairs and maintenance are kept to a low in the long run.

Selecting the most appropriate supplier to service your appliances is often something many a restaurant forgets about, says the owner of Steve Rahavy. 

Your biggest challenge here will be to build a list of contacts and suppliers that are invaluable to your restaurant. For a person who isn’t already in this niche, it can be hard to create a network you can trust and work with. 
When you’re selecting your suppliers, remember that customer service needs to be your main determining factor. When someone is able to put a name to a face, it represents an important part of having reputable suppliers in the food-service industry. 

Let’s face it; the most difficult challenge in any industry is to find qualified labor. Although the growing food-service is a plus for your restaurant, it also increases the demand for good employees in an already overstretched labor pool.

Your first concern is to develop a basic HR program that precisely determines what you want someone to do. It doesn’t have as formal as you would expect but should include job responsibilities and duties. 

Then, you’ll have to establish a pay scale. Find out what are the pay rates in your area. Next, establish a minimum and maximum rate for every position. Those who are better qualified and more experienced will have a bigger paycheck. When it comes to particular roles, you’re best off with having a :

  • A manager who has experience with managing a restaurant and is familiar with local buying sources.
  • Cooks and chefs. For starters, at least two full-time cooks and one part-time to work in the kitchen. 
  • Servers. Since they will interact the most with customers, they need to be able to make a favorable impression and work well under pressure.

There you go. A dream restaurant comes true. But only if you chase it, and put in the effort.

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