How To Start a Successful Restaurant: GUIDE



If dreams of opening a restaurant have filled your thoughts for years, it might be time to sit down and draw up a plan to open your own business. To help you create a recipe for success, we’ve put together a how-to-get-started guide to make sure you have all the ingredients you need to open your restaurant with confidence.

While starting a restaurant is exciting, it’s also time consuming and one of the toughest businesses to successfully launch. In fact, 60 percent of restaurants fail in the first year.

We’re not telling you this to temper you passion. We’re merely pointing out that if you want a successful restaurant, you’ll need to invest some serious time and money.

What’s the biggest reason for failure? Lack of planning. Before you ever make dinner for a customer, you’ll spend a lot of time figuring out every detail of your restaurant. From kitchen appliances and menus to floors plans and staff selections, the planning stage will make or break your restaurant.

To help you plan, fund, and manage your new restaurant, we’ve asked three owners to share their trade secrets. Kim Strengari owns three successful restaurants in the Philadelphia region, including Stella Blu. Yuen Yung owns fast sushi restaurants called How Do You Roll? which received a million dollar investment from the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” and now has 10 stores in the U.S. Lambrine Macejewski, is the co-founder of Cocina 214, a contemporary Mexican restaurant in Winter Park, Florida. Below are their tips for success.

Planning:

Have the right intentions

If you want to make it as a restaurant owner, you have to love what you do, Kim Strengari says. While she knew a restaurant was the right path for her, she had to work nights cleaning office buildings to make ends meet when she first opened her restaurant.
“I wanted the restaurant more then anything else in life, so the sacrifices were endless and I never minded making them,” she says.
To be successful, you’ll invest a lot of time and money—so make sure that starting a restaurant is your passion, not just a business venture you hope will make money.

Have a solid business plan in place

You can’t scratch a business plan out on a cocktail napkin. You need a detailed business plan that charts the course for your success. That said, we suggest beginning with a “lean plan” rather than the cliché long, dry business plan. 

Yuen Yung’s plan included a list of everything he would need to buy for the restaurant. “It looked like a novel by the time we were done,” he says. “But it helped us stay on budget and keep track of our capital.”Your business plan should include market research, a comprehensive look at your competitors, explain your target audience, outline marketing plans, and offer a solid budget projection. To get you started, check out these templates specifically for restaurant planning, or check out LivePlan software that will walk you through the process.

 

Location, location, location

With a restaurant, location is everything. You need a spot that draws crowds, is easily accessible, and has potential for growth. Of course, you need a location that fits within your budget too. The perfect spot can be hard to find, so take your time, Yuen Yung says.Whether you rent space or build from scratch, selecting a location is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as an owner.

Test your menu

You probably have several stellar dishes in mind for your new restaurant, but you’ll want to test them out before you laminate your first menu, Yung says.“Have a small party and invite people over to try your food before you open. Get honest feedback from people on the taste, the pricing, and the location.”

You might love the taste of a certain dish, but if customers won’t pay for it or aren’t keen on its taste, you won’t make money.

 



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Coffee Shop Secrets is not for people who think they can sit on their couch and have a coffee shop magically open for you. Opening a coffee shop is work! But Coffee Shop Secrets will guide you straight through the process with the fewest possible mistakes (saving you money and your valuable time).

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What Type of Coffee Shop Should I Open?

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By Tony DiCopro
When we think of a coffee shop, most think of a sit down place, maybe with or without a drive through. While that may be true, there is also the coffee kiosk and coffee cart. Here are some points to consider when starting a coffee shop:

Sit down (and mix) – most advantageous if you are planning on having entertainment and events. This would be considered, more often than not the full-service coffee shop. Outside of the purist coffee house that serves nothing but coffee in only a few forms, most sit downs serve light foods to full menus, also called cafes. The mix is pretty much adding a drive through window if space allows. A drive through window can add as much as 20% more revenue to your sales because of its convenience.

Drive through (stand alone) – usually a lesser start up cost, you can have your drive through constructed off-site by a company specializing in such for about $20,000 or less. A lot of times you can get a ground lease from the owner of a parking lot that does not need all that parking space. Be sure to consult with the city planning department to be sure you can do this. It will most likely require a certain square footage of lot space for employee parking and customer vehicle ‘stacking’. This is a fancy way to say how many cars can be in line at your drive through window on your property and still allow easy flow in and out and, to still have enough space for the other tenants in the plaza. Note that if your city and/or health department does not allow portable water and sewage onsite, you will be required to install plumbing and sewer. This can get costly but if the location is prime, it will outweigh your upfront costs. You can also find a stand-alone building that can be converted to a drive through. Gas stations and some former fast food places (without an inside dining area) are good for this. On the gas station, be sure to visit your city planning and zoning department to be sure you can convert it into a coffee drive through. You may have an issue with the car stacking again.

Kiosk – these are great for malls, hospitals, car dealerships or anywhere that you do not have or need a storefront. It’s a step above the cart (below) because the kiosk is pretty much a coffee shop that can be taken down and moved fairly easy. They are basically a prefabricated, fancy group of counters all connected together. It gives the feel of a stand-alone coffee shop. A lot of jewelry places and such have these in malls.

Cart – That pretty much says it all. A cart will cost you from $8000-12,000 or so to have built. They are also usually found in malls, car dealerships, hospitals etc. They have considerably less room than a kiosk but are a great option if you want to be in a mall or the like. You would normally be limited to serving food and bakery that is pre-packaged.

No matter what kind of coffee shop you decide to open, be sure you have researched it all, and are ready to be immersed! Starting a coffee shop will take up a lot of your time but will be worth it in the end! Good luck!

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Tony DiCorpo is a coffee roaster, barista trainer and coffee business consultant. He has authored many articles on coffee and the coffee business. Tony has extensive experience in business and collectively more than 20 years experience in sales, business management, entrepreneurship and the coffee business. The website to go to get his business plan is www.tonys-coffee-shop-business-plan.com

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