The Ultimate Checklist for How to Start a Restaurant

The Ultimate Checklist for How to Start a Restaurant

Do you dream of opening your own restaurant? You’ve probably discussed it with your friends and family, ran some basic numbers, and calculated what you need in order to get started. 

Before you read about how to start a restaurant, know that many fail – for avoidable reasons. Below are ten steps to increase your new restaurant’s chances of success and becoming a “go-to” place.

1. The 5 “P’s”: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

You’ve likely given a lot of thought to what type of restaurant you want to open. It may be based on your heritage and background, or an opportunity you’ve identified in a particular area.

Aside from the passion involved in opening your restaurant, you’ll need actual data and numbers. This is where your business plan comes in. It’s important to choose a restaurant model that you’re not only passionate about, but one that will be profitable. A business plan is also critical when approaching potential investors.

2. Capital and cash flow

Raising capital is your next step. You will need financial resources to secure your location, build out your restaurant, and make your first hires.  You’re going to need a lot of money to get started, almost always more than you think.

Small businesses like yours often find cashflow to be their #1 challenge. Everything will be going great, and suddenly an unexpected event puts tremendous pressure on the cash you have. This is what happened to Florence Chantepie, of French restaurant Café Framboise. In Florence’s first year of business, she found herself with unexpected cash flow issues. To make matters worse, Café Framboise did not have the credit history required for bank loans when things got tight. The key is to expect the unexpected so that you have cash on hand for issues that are sure to pop up.

3. Location, location, location!

It’s an old real estate saying: what are the three most important factors when assessing a property? Location, location, location. This holds especially true for restaurants. Find a location that suits your concept, and then hire an architect, designer, and general contractor to help build your space according to your vision. Don’t forget to take factors like foot traffic and parking space in the area into account.

4. Stay on the right side of the law

You’re doing everything right so far. Your business plan is excellent, you’ve secured funding and a great location, and you’ve proudly started work on your very own restaurant.

The last thing you need is for work to be stopped because you don’t have the required permits and licenses needed to operate. Make sure you have all of the legal documentation required, and you’ll breathe easy if police or inspectors stop by.

5. Hire early

You’re highly motivated and want everything for your restaurant to be just right. You’re also tempted to do as much as possible yourself, both from a cost and outcome perspective. A successful restaurant, however, requires a team to run it.


Hire early and hire the best

Start the hiring process early — it’s a challenge that shouldn’t be underestimated. Franciso Perez is the owner of Luna Modern Mexican Kitchen in Rancho Cucamonga, California. “We have a family business. We own two restaurants and we are economically ready to open a third store”, Perez says. “What stops me is knowing that there is not enough staff.” For small restaurants like yours, finding and retaining the right staff is going to be one of your key challenges.

6. Stand out from the crowd

You didn’t come all this way to open just another local restaurant. No, your restaurant should reflect your uniqueness and stand out from the crowd. To do so, develop a menu that will differentiate yourself. Then source your supplies from the right vendor, like Cheetah, one that will meet your budget and menu goals, and provide the quality that your customers will associate with you.

7. Preparation is key, and not just in the kitchen

Opening day is a great opportunity to make your mark and create a buzz around your new restaurant. Make sure you’re properly prepared. This includes ensuring your staff is trained and you’ve been through all scenarios before opening to the public. A soft opening is a good way to ensure everyone is set up for success.

8. Boost your online presence

Your online presence can be just as important as your physical one. You’ve designed your restaurant carefully, so make sure to put the same effort into your website and general online presence. Sign up with sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor, and get listed on Google. These sites are really important to help new customers find you. Did you know that a whopping 94% of diners will choose their restaurant based on online reviews?

9. Think out of the box

With your restaurant opening up, you’ll want to make sure you make a big splash and get as many people there for the opening day as possible.

A great way to do this is by alerting local food writers and publications of your grand opening.  Think of it as free advertising for your new business. A favorable review is really important for your new restaurant, so make sure you’re set up to keep everyone happy on day one.

10. Stay social

Once your restaurant is open for business, you will probably think to yourself, “How do I tell people about my incredible eatery?”


Social media is one of the most powerful (and free) tools out there

That’s where the power of social media comes in. All you need to do is create awesome content and showcase what makes your restaurant incredible. It doesn’t have to be complicated: a close-up of tonight’s special with some hashtags can do wonders for your online presence.

Here’s to your success

Opening a restaurant is definitely hard work. It’s also fulfilling, a great way to provide for your family, and combine work with passion.

To make things even easier when figuring out how to start a restaurant, know that you can rely on Cheetah for everything related to ordering supplies. You can access the best quality supplies at the best prices, all from your phone. Delivery is much quicker than traditional suppliers, so you can focus on making your new restaurant a huge success!

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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