Restaurant opening checklist

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Whether you plan to open a free-standing restaurant or one that is part of a chain, you must do a myriad of things before opening its doors for business. They begin with an idea, followed by a business plan and site selection. Also, you'll need to determine how you'll pay for the venture. But that's only the beginning.


Unless you have unlimited resources and a restaurant is just a hobby, you'd better have a budget before you begin planning to open a restaurant. If you are like many people, you will need to finance a large portion of what you intend to spend, and most lenders require that you have a well-conceived budget and a business plan before they will lend you money.

The budget should include building and equipment costs, marketing expenses and day-to-day costs after the restaurant opens until it is able to sustain itself. Once you are satisfied the budget is complete, add 15 per cent for contingencies.

Buy equipment

First, decide what type of restaurant you wish to open. For instance, if you plan to do a lot of grilling, determine the type of grilling you want to do, because that decision will not only guide you in purchasing equipment but will also help you plan for your power needs. Consider the number of people you plan to serve each day before you decide on the amount of refrigeration and dishwashing capabilities you'll need.


A restaurant's reputation is made by the staff. Depending on the type of restaurant, you'll need wait staff, bartenders, busboys, cooks and dishwashers as well as managers and hosts. When you first open, staff the restaurant with as few people as you can; during rushes, many of your staff will assume the duties ordinarily done by others. You'll want your staff to be flexible, so explain that during the hiring process.

Licenses and insurance

Running a restaurant requires numerous licenses. If you serve alcoholic beverages, each jurisdiction has rules for securing one. Also, your restaurant must have a food license, and many jurisdictions require a retail license. Your staff must be covered by workers' compensation insurance. All of this must be in place by the time you open your restaurant.

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