How to Start a Restaurant or Cafe

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to Start a Restaurant or Cafe
Ambience is key in the restaurant business. (restaurant image by Francis Lempérière from

The restaurant and cafe industry is tough and many businesses fail in their first year. Careful planning and decision making are required to start a venture in the restaurant business. Factors such as location, menu, atmosphere, wait staff and quality of food must be considered. Word of mouth can make or break a restaurant or cafe. If you are not a chef or do not have intimate knowledge of the food industry, you should consider working with a seasoned industry professional as either an adviser or a partner. Knowledge of the industry will be critical to your success.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Business plan
  • Lawyer
  • Accountant
  • Restaurant
  • Chef, cooks
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Menu
  • Food supplier
  • Dining area furniture, decoration
  • Serving dishes, utensils, linens
  • Waitstaff
  • Kitchen staff
  • Website

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  1. 1

    Develop a well-researched and carefully planned business plan. Use the business plan as your number-one resource in launching your restaurant or cafe. It will be essential to endeavours like securing funds for your venture.

  2. 2

    Find an attorney to assist you with setting up your business. File the necessary forms with your local, state and federal authorities. The restaurant business has many regulations. Consult your lawyer for all aspects of your business.

    How to Start a Restaurant or Cafe
    An attorney will guide you through the legal process of starting a restaurant. (young lawyer image by Alexey Stiop from
  3. 3

    Hire an accountant. Work with your accountant to fill out and file all of the financial forms for your restaurant or cafe. Set up an accounting system and meet with your accountant regularly.

  4. 4

    Determine what type of restaurant or cafe you would like to start. Research the market and assess your skills and inspiration to make an informed decision.

  5. 5

    Find a location for your restaurant. The type of restaurant will determine the ideal location of your restaurant. Find areas where there is a need for your type of restaurant. Ensure that the area is heavily travelled. Locations close to workplaces are a good choice. People seek out places to eat on their lunch breaks and to relax after business hours.

    How to Start a Restaurant or Cafe
    Location is everything in the restaurant business. (barbie street image by Roques Jean Chris from
  6. 6

    Lease or buy a building to serve as a production area/dining area. Find a building that is already set up to function as a restaurant or cafe. This will cut down on start-up costs.

  7. 7

    Hire a chef and a team of cooks for your restaurant or cafe. Choose a chef who can provide the kind of food that you want to offer. Consult the chef on layout of the kitchen and the equipment. Purchase your kitchen equipment. Design and lay out the kitchen/production area.

    How to Start a Restaurant or Cafe
    Your choice in a chef will define your restaurant or cafe. (fire on pan image by erwinova from
  8. 8

    Work with the chef to develop a menu. Take input from the chef, but stay in line with your vision for the restaurant or cafe.

  9. 9

    Locate and set up a line of supply for your food. A recent trend for restaurants and cafes is to offer locally sourced food. Consider offering local food and working with local farmers and speciality food producers.

    How to Start a Restaurant or Cafe
    Local, fresh ingredients are in demand for contemporary menus. (Kitchen-garden produce image by Wendy Keys from
  10. 10

    Design the dining area. Acquire furniture, decorations, serving dishes, and utensils. Find local art for the walls. Include a sound system in the overall design to provide ambient music. Consider the design of the dining area carefully. It is your brand. Create a dining experience.

    How to Start a Restaurant or Cafe
    Plan your decor carefully. (outdoor dining image by Gina Smith from
  11. 11

    Hire waitstaff, kitchen staff and any other support staff such as managers. Carefully interview and hire employees. They are the face of your business. Train employees from the start to ensure they are doing things to your standards.

  12. 12

    Hire a web designer to create a basic website for your restaurant. Provide your contact information and menu.

Tips and warnings

  • Create a social networking page using any number of the social network websites. This will generate buzz, allow for communication between you and your customers, and give customers a way to provide feedback.
  • Ensure that you are prepared for anything when you open your doors. Impressions of restaurants or cafes are lasting.

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