Eating out is something millions of Americans relish. Restaurateurs love the experience of being able to bring people together for new delicious experiences. If you’re considering opening a restaurant, you may be curious about what steps you’ll need to complete to create a popular establishment in your neighborhood.

To start your journey in the food service industry, the following checklist will provide a quick step-by-step overview of what it takes to open your doors. Make sure to also check out this comprehensive guide to opening a restaurant to take a more in-depth look at the requirements you’ll need to meet.

Your Restaurant Opening Checklist

1. Develop a Business Plan

Figuring out these fine details beforehand will ensure you are ready to create a healthy business plan for your restaurant. Just like in other industries, a business owner needs to be able to think through all likely facets of the developing food establishment while the business plan is growing.

Include these details while developing your restaurant’s business plan:

  • Financial support
  • Restaurant concept
  • Required restaurant equipment
  • Location setting
  • Sample menus with detail and designs
  • Market plan
  • Employee hiring process
  • Restaurant
  • Marketing plan
  • Restaurant design
  • Executive summary

It’s worth the considerable time and effort it takes to create a business plan. Conducting your research and thinking through all the little details will help define your vision and prepare you for the next steps.

2. Service Style

Before doing anything else, you need to decide on a service style. This decision will dictate how you run the primary services you offer. For example, how will your customers and diners get their food? The answer will help decide the ambiance and mood of their service experience. It will also help you decide what food options to dish up and how to run your kitchen.

Typically, there are three categories of service styles:

Fast Food – The focus is on getting meals to the customer quickly. This also means a limited menu since you need dishes that can be prepared and served quickly. In addition, you won’t need wait staff because food orders are made at a counter.

Casual Dining – These restaurants offer similar options as fast food, but patrons enjoy table service. You can expect to hire waitstaff and even a bartender if you plan to offer beer, wine, or spirits.

Fine Dining – If you offer more elaborate meal options at a higher price tag in a more formal environment, you’ll need to plan for specially-trained chefs, custom menus, create a dress code, and more. This establishment may require additional investment but will earn significantly higher profits.

3. Restaurant Type

The type of restaurant you open depends on the service style you choose. For instance, if you plan to have a waiter, you’ll probably offer your patrons a more casual or fine dining experience. On the other hand, if you choose to have diners come to a counter to wait on their orders, fast food is the way to go.

Deciding factors that will help determine the type of restaurant you create should include price point, overall formality, and food items you’d like to serve.

4. Creating Your Menu and Pricing

While your restaurant is shaping up, you already have ideas about the food dishes you want to offer. Now is the perfect time to carefully conceptualize the fare you will serve to your customer base.

There are things you need to consider that will affect your menu items. For example, consider the quality of ingredients, type of food, item prices, and hours of operation. These will all affect your menu.

5. Get Funded

One of the bigger road bumps in opening your business is not having the necessary funds to cover the costs of a start-up. Therefore, budgeting for expenses that come with running a restaurant is important.

By creating a thought-out and well-written business plan, you will incorporate all the information needed. You’ll know exactly how much money you’ll be obligated to be successful for the first years of operating your company.

6. Obtain Needed Permits and Licensing

Proper licenses and permits are required for legal operation in any state. You will also need a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) and register your business.

There are also other regulations and permits to be aware of when opening a restaurant. One example is a liquor license. If you plan to sell alcohol on-premises, you’ll need to get this permit as your state requires. Again, be sure to research this process on the Small Business Administration’s website to make sure you are covering your state’s requirements.

7. Insure Your New Restaurant

Providing reliable service is one way to ensure that your patrons will support your restaurant. Managing challenges that would usually prevent a company from running at its smoothest is the meaning of this phrase. One of the key players in this effort is business insurance. This unsung hero protects your employees, customers, and operations against accidents and unseen developments.

If you live in an area accustomed to severe weather, like power outages, you could suffer dramatically by having all your food and beverages spoil. But, again, insurance could be the safety net to cover this loss so that you can get back on your feet more quickly.

Find the best insurance policies for your business listed below:

  • General Liability
  • Commercial Property
  • Liquor Liability
  • Food Contamination and Spoilage
  • Business Interruption
  • Workers’ Compensation

8. Location, Location, Location

Now is the time to hunt down a perfect place to plant your restaurant’s roots. First, you’ll want to find a place that matches the vibe or ambiance you want to create, depending on the type of restaurant you want to develop.

When looking for the perfect spot, decide ahead of time if you want to rent, buy, or build a brand-new building. This is the time to consider parking, traffic flow, and other factors that will affect how your patrons access your restaurant.

9. Choose a Restaurant Layout

After finding the perfect location and considering outdoor logistics, you’ll be ready to measure up your building and decide on interior design. Walk the building and imagine how to best use the space. Make sure you account for wait staff’s needs and foot traffic.

Doing this can make one walk-around decision on what your business will consume regarding water, power, and gas for equipment and appliances.

10. Hire Your Team

A workforce is the number one thing you’ll need before your doors open. You, as the owner, will be in charge of hiring and training the wait staff, bartenders, hostesses, cooks, bussers, and other needed employees. This means that one of the biggest parts of starting a restaurant is having a hiring process with which you are happy.

11. Open Your Doors

Now that your checklist is complete, it’s time to have a grand opening for your restaurant! Since you’ve done a thorough job of creating a start-up plan, it’s time to jump in with both feet and open your doors to business!

Opening a Restaurant is a Worthwhile Journey

As an aspiring restaurateur, many details will go into building your establishment. From choosing furnishings to picking food vendors and calculating price points, you’ll have a long list of important steps to complete before serving your first guest. However, the effort and the joy that comes with operating a cafe or burger joint make this process well worth it.

Just make sure to protect your restaurant against everyday liabilities that food industry businesses face. A comprehensive business policy is essential to your risk management strategy. Make sure to speak with a knowledgeable insurance representative for advice and guidance about the coverages you’ll need to protect your business adequately.