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How to Open a Small Restaurant

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Many people share the dream of opening a small restaurant, however, only a select few move forward in doing so. Of those, some achieve success but many find themselves struggling to stay in business.

How to open a small restaurant - restaurant owner standing next to a grand opening sign.

Here are five steps that can lead you towards success:

    1. Decide on a concept. Are you going to serve fast food? How about fine dining? Or maybe you are interested in a bar-restaurant?

Most people have a concept in mind, so this is not one of the more difficult steps in the process of opening a restaurant. Just make sure you dig deeper than the basic idea, ensuring that your concept is right for you.

    1. Select a location. This is when the real fun begins. Just the same as buying a home, this old saying holds true: location, location, location. You could have the best food in the area, but if nobody can find your restaurant you don't have much chance of success.

It would be ideal to find a location in a busy area with a high concentration of foot traffic. If nothing else, this will ensure that people are aware that your restaurant exists.

Note: some people purchase real estate for their restaurant while others rent. There are pros and cons of both options, so consider each one thoroughly before deciding how to move forward.

    1. Create a business plan. This is important for a variety of reasons:
      • Help keep you on the right track during the start-up phase
      • Gives you guidance after you open your doors
      • Provides future advice on how to market your restaurant
      • Required if you are going to seek bank financing

Note: visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website for advice. If you are looking for local help, find a SCORE office in your area.

    1. Focus on the numbers. Do you have enough cash to open your restaurant without outside financing? While this is ideal, it is not the situation most people find themselves in.

With the help of your business plan, you can target local banks that provide financing to small restaurant start-ups. Along with this, don't shy away from contacting private investors and small business agencies.

It has become more challenging to secure financing for a restaurant, but it is not impossible.

  1. Don't forget licenses and permits. If you are serious about your restaurant, you need to apply for the appropriate licenses and permits. Depending on your location, this could take several months, so don't delay in starting the application process.

In addition to these five steps, there are other details to consider along the way:

  • Designing the restaurant, including seating and the kitchen
  • Creating a menu
  • Hiring staff
  • Marketing your new establishment
  • Implementing the appropriate technology
  • Setting up a payroll system

Opening a small restaurant does not have to be a pipe dream. With nearly one million restaurantsin the United States, generating $683.4 billion in sales every year, now is the time for you to get in on the action.

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