How to Start a Restaurant and Differentiate From Others

How to Start a Restaurant and Differentiate From Others

We put together some of the most important points on how to start a restaurant successfully. Key ways to achieve success are through catering to your community and differentiating yourself from other chains around you.

In a nutshell, being community-focused, standing for your own
uniqueness, and offering quality and value are what help make a
successful restaurant. Read on as we take a deeper look at these.

Every restaurant owner asks themselves this one question: What makes a restaurant successful in the long run? One of the answers has to do with focus and differentiation. Focus on your community, and differentiating yourself from the chains around you. Crack this, and you’re well on your way to long-term success.

Your Number 1 Ingredient

When restaurant owners think about their most important ingredient, many will immediately picture the cream for their delicious seafood in roasted garlic sauce or the perfect piece of meat they want to order for their wholesome signature steak. When it comes to restaurant success, the most important ingredient is a lot greater than food: it’s authenticity.

This is a feeling that your restaurant just “has”, that includes the passion you and your employees have, the love you show towards what you do, the appreciation of your restaurant customers, and the uniqueness that comes with doing things the way only you can. So along with the cream and meat, mix in a bit of that part of yourself that remembers why you started this small business and the dreams you had to take it to its full potential.


Today’s restaurant chains focus on speed, efficiency, and price. One critical factor has been lost: Quality. Quality when it comes to ingredients, quality when it comes to service, and quality when it comes to commitment to your guests’ satisfaction.

Sure, you can get that fresh produce, cheese, meat, and seafood from a wholesale bulk seller…or you can order your ingredients from someone you trust. You can pick your ingredients with the final dish in mind, and with a small smile dancing over your face as you imagine how much your restaurant customers are going to love it. Your community is relying on you to look after them, and they trust you to serve the highest quality dishes.


We’ve all experienced it – coming to a restaurant we’ve looked forward to dining at, only to be read out a list of “what we don’t have” by the waiter or waitress. “Sure, you want our legendary chicken tikka masala? I’m afraid we don’t have chicken today…but the tikka masala is excellent”.

Catering to your community means building trust over a long time. We all know that the food business is a fickle one; regular customers can have one bad experience and never come back. Ensuring that your pantry is full of wholesome fresh produce and your inventory is consistently stocked goes a long way to becoming that restaurant the community relies on. It will also result in the ability to save time, money and ingredients.

As opposed to the restaurants and chains around you that you’re competing with, it also helps to carry items in inventory that can delight and surprise, especially when grocery shopping. They don’t even have to be perishable. Having fries on hand to serve to a tired 7-year old at a Vietnamese restaurant could be one of the smartest inventory purchases you’ll make.


Freshness is a great differentiator. Everyone can taste the difference between fresh and “almost fresh”. And forget trying to save by keeping things a bit longer than required, as this will usually cost you in the long run. Fresh fish, fresh meat, fresh dairy, fresh fruit and produce…there’s nothing like it. Especially when it comes to chains, the word “fresh” almost doesn’t exist. So make sure you’re always…fresh. This applies when guests are sitting at your tables, as well as when it comes to delivery.

Fresh is about the product, but it’s also a mindset. It’s the way your restaurant staff starts off their shifts, the way they view even regular customers, and the way they feel about every single dish.



McDonald’s revolutionized the fast food industry by innovating and using technology to differentiate themselves. While no one here wants to be a McDonalds, the lesson in terms of being smart and using technology still applies to your small business. This means being smart when it comes to financial management, when it comes to staff management, and of course smart when it comes to inventory and supply management. This is where Cheetah can give you the edge over the competition, by the way. Read more about being smarter about your operations, running your business through your mobile device, and getting huge savings here.


Warmth applies to food, as well as atmosphere and relationships. At the restaurant chains, this is the first thing that’s missing (and often when it comes to both food and atmosphere!). A warm environment is critical, especially if you want to take on the big chains and cater to your community. In fact, it’s one of the things communities value most – after all, it’s what being part of a community is all about. It starts from outside the door and continues through until customers leave that same door after having the most delightful meal at your restaurant. 

How to start a restaurant with value

Providing value applies to the business of owning and running a restaurant, but it’s also what enables you to cater to your community. This means being involved, being active in the community, and giving back. This can take many forms and for each restaurant and community this will be different, but there is a common theme of appreciation and value.

At the end of the day, a community restaurant is more than a place where people come to eat, pay and leave. It’s a place to (literally) break bread together, to connect over wholesome food, forge bonds, laugh and cry together. It can be sit-down at an intimate table or on-the-go…a restaurant can become the center of a community.

The fact that you’re reading this shows that you’re passionate about what you do, value your community, and are committed to being a long-term success.
At Cheetah, we’re like you: passionate, determined, honest. We’d love to show you how you can get the best ingredients and supplies super quickly and at the best prices, all from your mobile phone. Get in touch with us!

About Cheetah

Headquartered in San Francisco, Cheetah is a startup that is quickly disrupting the $1 trillion US wholesale grocery and foodservice distribution industry. By offering flexible, next-day deliveries as well as transparent pricing and inventory in an easy-to-use app, Cheetah is helping support thousands of SMB restaurants with their grocery and supply needs in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Seattle, and Dallas. Cheetah has made more than 150,000 deliveries to over 2,000 active customers and has achieved over $100 million in annual sales with triple digit growth. Next up – turbo charging growth by bringing Cheetah to small businesses nationwide.

Interested in more details? See our website, download our iOS and Android apps, or call us at 1 (800) 571-5231.

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