Updated: Feb 17
Thinking of starting a restaurant? While an exciting idea, don’t forget to have all your ducks in a row. Infi’s team is composed of experienced restaurateurs, and here’s their checklist of what you need to do to start your restaurant.
It shouldn’t be a secret that restaurants need to be well funded from the get-go. Bank loans, grants, and government programs are good sources to start with. You may need to even tap friends and family to invest - unless you have a group of investors ready to cover your initial costs.
Infi’s CRO Jason Li says his general rule is to always have enough funds to cover expenses for your first three months, as revenue is typically tough to come by at the outset of your entrepreneurial journey.
Your restaurant’s staff can make or break your survival. They are your frontlines in interacting with customers and are just as influential as your food’s quality in bringing in repeat customers.
Finding reliable, trustworthy staff is hard to do, but above all make sure they are dependable. Everything else you can train them on.
Secure permits and licenses
Getting started on getting the necessary permits and licenses as soon as possible will only save you headaches. You’re likely to deal with lots of bureaucracy, therefore you will want start the process for securing your permits once able and not a moment later.
Get a strong restaurant tech stack
Make sure your restaurant’s technology is what you need, and not out of date. Think about your point of sale system, BOH devices and connectivity, internet connection, contactless payments, etc.
Most of all, make sure they are reliable. There’s nothing worse than having something give out on you in the middle of a busy shift.
Create your concept
What is it that will make you stand out from the competition? What is it that will draw customers in? These are two good starting questions to ask yourself as you start to build out your idea into a real, live restaurant.
Your concept should go beyond what kind of food you are going to serve. Think about formats, such as fine dining, or fast casual? How will staff interact with customers?
Also take branding into account, as this will be an extension of what your restaurant represents.
Create your menu
This step should be a no-brainer, but your menu is what will make or break your business. Be creative, and don’t compromise!
However, your menu should be influenced by profit margins. Will the plates you want to serve be costly? Will their costs make them too expensive for your target demographic? You always want to serve the best tasting food, but your restaurant is a business at the end of the day.
Another no-brainer, and you have definitely heard it before. But take into account your rent, what kinds of people live around your location, foot traffic, parking, visibility, and accessibility among other characteristics are key.
This should be your first step as it will help you secure capital, inform on what location you choose, and more.
Your plan should include an executive summary, company overview, competition analysis, a marketing plan, an operations plan detailing staffing and customer service among other things, and financial analysis and projections.
Put together your marketing plan
Think about who will manage your social media, what online tools do you need, tactics and promotions you will use, and how you will communicate with your customers.
Marketing’s main goal is to build awareness of your restaurant, and your budget will greatly influence what tactics you leverage.
Confirm your vendors/suppliers
Soft opening, test run
To have one final check that you are ready to open your doors, plan a soft opening event for a select crowd. Some ideas could be a tasting menu for family and/or friends, inviting in influencers to try some menu items, or opening with a limited menu.
Don’t be afraid to make it fun, you will want to set a positive tone from the get go.
There you have it, Infi’s checklist for starting your restaurant, based on our staff’s own experiences starting their restaurants. With this in mind, you should get on the right track to launching your restaurant and bringing tasty creations into the world.
Let us know what works for you, or what other key items have help you get off to a successful start.