What is on your to-do list? What shouldn’t be on your to-do list? Juggling all of the tasks on your restaurant’s startup can be overwhelming. Make sure you don’t forget anything by reading our checklist for success.
Don't get lost in the clouds
Don’t wait until the last minute to get the facts about opening your restaurant. How does your plan stack up? Read this quick restaurant startup checklist and jump start your preparations for a successful launch.
When you think of opening your new restaurant, it is easy to get lost in the dream and forget to focus on reality. While it is perfectly fine to daydream a little, if you are serious about making it to opening day and lasting more than a few months, you better get your head out of the clouds long enough to read this checklist and make sure you are on track. But don’t worry—by the end of this article, you’ll have a checklist and some tools to help you succeed.
The Dream Phase: Playtime with your imagination
This is the part where it’s okay to dream, but be sure you do not stay in this phase too long. When you imagine your restaurant on opening day, what do you think about? Have you picked out your colors and the style of food you’ll serve? That’s all fine and good, and you should consider those aspects, it’s important to look at the bigger picture, too.
- Get a rock-solid concept To be successful in opening a new restaurant, you’ll need to have a rock-solid concept. It’s true that some restaurants built around fads—such as a strict fondue menu or only grass-fed beef offerings—do very well, you still need to consider the longevity of your concept. As fads are forgotten and begin to fade from popularity, it will become much harder for you to attract and keep customers. However, if you go with a tried-and-true concept with a twist of something new—instead of something entirely new—you will give your restaurant instant “staying-power” so it can easily weather the changing fads. This is also the time to decide on casual, fine dining, family-friendly, or some kind of mix. Your dining style will play a big role in figuring out the details of the next step, so consider your options carefully.
- Imagine a strong menu with room to grow
When you’re dreaming of your new restaurant, you probably have a pretty good idea what your menu is going to look like. Now is the time to think of a few staples for your menu and then add in some of that creativity we talked about in the previous tip. Try adding two or three wow-factor menu items, several exciting options, and a good selection of typical foods for your restaurant type. Don’t get yourself stuck in one idea though—be ready to add and subtract as fads and favorites shift. That’s one key to a successful restaurant: Adaptability.
Research and Reality: You can make this work
You’ve got your concept, thought about your preferred dining style, and imagined your menu. Now it’s time to look at reality. While this part isn’t nearly as fun as dreaming and imagining your future, you don’t want to skimp here. You’re going to need money, a building, and some serious attention to details you may not have even considered yet. Here’s the rest of your checklist to success.
- Be mindful of small business compliance
Starting a business is stressful all on its own, but when the time comes for inspections or registrations or licenses, and you realize you’ve forgotten an integral part, you’ll wish you’d spent more time in the beginning; creating your to-do list. Licensing, zoning details, permits, certificates—these all depend on where you are and where you plan to build your business. Check local laws and regulations early on, and keep track of your to-do list, plan how you’ll handle staffing and payroll, and keep your notes in order. Skip messy paperwork and go right for digital checklists and productivity software like ZipChecklist. They are faster, simpler, easier, and more environmentally friendly than paper, plus ZipChecklist syncs to multiple devices so that you won’t lose this all-important checklist! For more information on avoiding small business compliance issues, check out this article.
- Note your ideal location and nearby competition
Chances are good if you spot a great location for your new restaurant, there’s already one nearby. It’s not a bad thing, though, so don’t worry. If you see another restaurant nearby, go ahead and scope it out for a while. If they seem always to be busy, it could mean there’s room for another restaurant. If you never see anyone eating there, it could signal a lack of interest in the area, and you may want to consider a new location.
- Appease the local government We don’t mean to sound too dramatic here, but once you have your location, you need to make sure you’re following local laws. You’ll want to spend some time making sure you have met every requirement your local government has for opening a food service business, or they’ll come down on you hard, making it impossible to fulfill this dream. This is another place Zipchecklist can come in handy. Along with your other small business compliance notes, keep a list of utilities you need to secure and local permits and licenses and any renewal dates and fees. Add it all to your checklist now, and you won’t need to worry about fines later.
- A detailed business plan will attract investors
Investors almost never come on board without a compelling business plan, so it’s a wise move to write one in the very early stages of your prep. Maybe you feel like you don’t need investors, or you’d just like to go this alone. You’re not getting off that easy. You still need a business plan. Consider this a roadmap to getting your restaurant started. Your business plan should outline your concept, location, your anticipated revenue, and could even include your action plans in case of hiccups along the way. Whether you choose to attract investors or not, a clear business plan will help you stay on track.
Start the ball rolling
At this point, if you’ve followed this checklist and started using ZipChecklist to keep track of the details, you should have all the major pieces you need to get your restaurant started. Obviously, you’ll need to look at smaller details to reach opening day, but this is a solid startup list to get you moving in the right direction. You may have noticed our heavy emphasis on productivity software. Twenty years ago, paper records and logbooks were standard and expected, but times have changed, and business has evolved.
If you’re feeling a little uneasy about jumping into technology, let us set your mind at ease with this article.
Productivity software truly is the most efficient and cost-effective way to start and support a new restaurant or foodservice business. Keep your to-do list updated, checking off the completed tasks and adding new tasks as you go along, and you should be serving your first patrons in no time.