How To Open a Successful Restaurant or Bar

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Opening a restaurant or bar can be a daunting task. There are so many things to consider, from the location and menu to the marketing and staffing. How do you make sure your business is successful? In this article, we will discuss the most important factors to consider when opening a restaurant or bar. So read on and learn everything you need to know about opening your own establishment!

1. Create a Budget

The first step is to create a budget. You need to know how much money you have to work with and what your expenses will be. In addition, you want to make sure you have enough money to cover unexpected costs. This will help you determine how big your restaurant or bar can be and what kind of amenities you can afford. Namely, you can do this by:

  • Determining your start-up costs, which include the cost of leasing or purchasing a space, outfitting it with furniture and equipment, and hiring staff
  • Estimating your ongoing expenses, such as food and drink costs, utilities, and labor
  • Estimating your marketing budget, which is typically 3-6% of gross sales

2. Consider the Location

The first and arguably most important factor to consider when you want to open your restaurant or bar is the location. You want to make sure you choose a location that is convenient for your target market. If you’re aiming for a casual dining experience, you’ll want to be located in an area with high foot traffic. If you’re looking to attract a more upscale crowd, you’ll want to be located in a more affluent area. Either way, do your research and choose a location that will give your business the best chance for success.

One way to do this is by considering the demographics of the area. Another way to choose your location is by looking at the competition. You don’t want to be located right next to another restaurant or bar, but you also don’t want to be too far away from one either. If there are no other restaurants or bars in the area, that might be a red flag.

3. Design Your Restaurant or Bar

Once you have all of the logistics in place, it’s time to start thinking about the design of your space. You’ll need to choose furniture, fixtures, and equipment that reflect your concept. For example, if you’re going for a rustic feel, you’ll want to use dark woods and exposed brick. If you’re aiming for a more modern look, you might opt for stainless steel and glass.

Restrooms can be an afterthought, but they shouldn’t be. Many guests use the restroom as an opportunity to take selfies. The chief creative officer of Boca Cincinnati, Jono Fried, stated that restrooms add “one more fun level of discovery in an already exciting restaurant. It’s a place where you can get the biggest impact because there’s just such little expectation.”

For restrooms, dim lighting is usually more relaxing and flattering. You can find quality bathroom accessories from hand dryers to grab bars at to help you efficiently accessorize your restroom space.

Good music, soft lighting, table variety, and a smart layout are all part of a great restaurant design.

4. Choose a Supplier

You’ll need to find a supplier for all of your food and drink needs. This is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, since it will affect the quality of your food and drinks.

Do your research and choose a supplier that can provide fresh, high-quality ingredients. It’s a good idea to visit the supplier’s facility and see how they operate. This will give you a good idea of the quality of their products.

A sponsor is an investor who provides funding for your business in exchange for a percentage of the profits. This can be a great way to get the money you need to open your establishment and get it up and running. It’s also a good way to get exposure for your business. Not to forget, having a sponsor can give you a leg up on your competition, allowing you to make key investments that will set your restaurant apart. It’s important to find a sponsor who shares your vision for the business, someone you trust to help will help make it a success.

6. Write a Business Plan for Your Restaurant

Now that you have an idea of what you need to do and how much it will cost, it’s time to write a business plan. Your business plan will outline your restaurant or bar’s goals, strategies, and financial projections.

It’s important to have a thought-out business plan before moving forward. Your business plan will be helpful in securing financing from investors or lenders. There are a number of business plan templates online that you can use to get started.

Now it’s time to start thinking about your restaurant or bar’s concept. What kind of atmosphere are you thinking of creating? What type of food and drinks will be included on the menu? Once you have a good idea of your concept, you can start developing your restaurant menu.

Your menu choices should reflect your restaurant concept. For example, if you’re going for a casual vibe, you’ll want to have a mix of simple and sophisticated dishes. If you’re aiming for a more upscale crowd, you’ll likely focus on unusual or gourmet items. Also, you can make a menu that everyone can try.

Even the layout and design of your menu itself affect how easily people order and how many items they order.

8. Trademark Your Name and Logo

Before you open your restaurant or bar you’ll need to trademark your restaurant or bar’s name and logo. This will protect your business from another establishment copying your identity.

You’ll need to file for a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Once your name and logo are approved, you can start using these assets in your marketing materials.

9. Hire the Right Staff

One of the most important elements, when you want to open your restaurant or bar, is hiring the right staff. You’ll need to find employees who are passionate about food and drink and who have experience in the industry. In addition, you’ll want to make sure your staff is friendly and professional. They should be able to provide excellent customer service and make your guests feel welcome.

Post an application online and conduct interviews to find the best employees for your business. You can also run background checks to ensure you’re hiring trustworthy staff members.

Coast suggests the following tried and tested interview questions for restaurant applicants.

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Why do you want to work in the restaurant industry?
  3. Do you have any prior experience in the restaurant industry?
  4. What are your strengths?
  5. What are your weaknesses?
  6. What hours are you available to work?
  7. Why our restaurant?
  8. Describe a time you had to deal with a difficult customer, co-worker, or person. How did you deal with that situation?
  9. Have you dined at our restaurant before? What stood out to you?
  10. What are your career goals?
  11. When was the last time you went out of your way to go the extra mile for a guest?
  12. Do you work better with a team, or independently?
  13. Why are you well-suited for this position?
  14. Why should we hire you?

It’s important to get a good team in place before you open your doors to the public. Even if you have the best food and drink in town, if your staff is not up to par, it will reflect poorly on your business.

10. Hire a Manager

In addition to hiring great staff, you’ll also need to find a manager who can run your restaurant or bar.

A good manager will be organized and have experience in the food and beverage industry. They should also be able to handle customer complaints and resolve any issues that may arise. Since you likely won’t want to be at your business at all times, it’s important to find someone who has the necessary skills to run your business in your absence.

The best managers leverage technology to drive productivity and streamline tasks. For instance, they use restaurant scheduling apps to track employee hours, ensuring all service crew members get paid accurately and on time. They can also use such apps to handle shift trade requests, determine employee availability, and notify employees of new schedules. 

Good managers are also well-adept in assisting employees and customers in using and operating kitchen display screens, point-of-sale systems, self-order kiosks, and other restaurant technologies. This way, they directly contribute to improving customer experience.

When you have an experienced and tech-savvy manager in your restaurant, you can quickly drive innovation and influence other employees to perform at their best. You can establish an innovative, proactive, and dynamic work environment where everyone enjoys sharing best practices, like menu research and development, to serve customers better.

11. Find the Best Cooks for Your Restaurant

If you want to have a successful restaurant, you need excellent cooks.

Take your time when searching for cooks. You can post an ad online or in a local newspaper. You can also ask people you know if they know someone who would be a good fit for the job. Perhaps the best way to find a great cook is to ask other restaurant owners for recommendations.

Once you find a few candidates, conduct interviews and cooking tests for both your executive chefs and line cooks. You can invite your family, friends, acquaintances, food lovers, cooking professionals, and third parties as judges for these events. Relying on your taste alone isn’t enough, after all. Make sure to get people from various backgrounds for a wider perspective on any results. This also lets you account for more palates than you originally expected.

Getting feedback from a broader audience is advisable to obtain the best representation from your target audience.

12. Develop a Marketing Plan

Now that you have everything in place, it’s time to start marketing your restaurant or bar. You’ll need to develop a marketing plan that outlines your advertising and promotions strategy. This plan should include both traditional and digital marketing strategies. For example, you may want to place ads in local newspapers and magazines, as well as create a strong social media presence. On the other hand, you may want to focus on more creative marketing methods, such as holding special events or partnering with other businesses. Whichever marketing strategies you choose, make sure they are aligned with your overall concept and target audience.

13. Organize a Grand Opening Event

Once you’ve developed your marketing plan, it’s time to start executing it. One of the best ways to generate buzz for your restaurant or bar is to hold a grand opening event. This event should be invite-only and should be exclusive to your VIP guests.

During the event, you can serve hors d’oeuvres and drinks and give tours. You can also use the event to launch your website and social media platforms.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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