Restaurant Opening Checklist: 9 Steps to Start a Profitable Restaurant

Opening a restaurant is a lot of work with tons of paperwork and endless tasks that can be overwhelming for new restaurant owners. Here are 9 tips to get you started.

Restaurant Opening Checklist

In the Philippines, the foodservice market is expected to grow at an impressive rate with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.67% from 2021 to 2026. This market is highly driven by a rise in value-conscious consumers willing to try new restaurants. These patrons are eager to sample different menu options—including international and local cuisines alike.

After reading about the growth potential of the restaurant industry, you may want to open your own  restaurant. It’s no simple feat, but if you can pull it off, it’s well worth it.

So, to increase your restaurant’s chances of success, you need to offer food that tastes great and get their attention on the menu. Truffles fries with parmesan anyone? 

Beyond having a stellar menu with eye-catching entrees, launching a restaurant also relies heavily on how well-prepared you are at all stages. You have to master everything from conceptualizing, creating your menu, and hiring staff—to hosting a grand opening.

The conceptualization process may be daunting since there are tons of complicated tasks and difficult decisions to make before opening your doors. If it’s your first time launching a restaurant, don’t worry. We’ve prepared a checklist to help make the opening your restaurant more manageable.

1. Find A Concept

Conceptualizing is one of the most exciting parts of planning your business. It’s creative, fun, and thrilling. This is the stage where you get to decide on your restaurant’s cuisine, type, and concept. 

Choosing your restaurant’s theme is the fun part of the preparatory phase because you can  let your imagination run wild. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you’re deciding on a concept:

  • What type of restaurant do I want to open?
  • Do I want a full-service restaurant, café, kiosk, or a drive-by restaurant?
  • What kind of cuisine should I serve? Italian, Korean, or Asian Fusion cuisine?
  • What type of ambiance should I have?
  • How can my restaurant be unique?
  • What’s my target market?

Deciding on a solid concept for your restaurant is crucial when opening a restaurant. But, before finalizing your restaurant concept, you should first do proper market research. If there’s a lot of Italian restaurants in the area, you’ll need to make sure you can confidently rival the competition. 

2. Do Market Research

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A restaurant can only be successful if you know how competitive your niche is. Once you have an idea of the concept for your restaurant, you can do market research. At this stage, you will have a better idea on how to stand out and attract more customers.

Effective market research allows you to:

  • Identify the types of customers your restaurant will attract
  • Know how your concept fits the existing pool of restaurants in your market 
  • Find the most lucrative hours and meal service periods for your restaurant
  • See if there’s a great demand for the service/food that you’re planning to offer

With comprehensive market research, you can be confident that you’ll be successful from the start. Too often, business owners dive in before this step, so if you do this you’ll be ahead of the curve.

3. Sort Your Finances

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Having enough finances is vital in opening a restaurant. You need to have sufficient funding for overhead costs before you open your doors. After all, there’s a lot of expenses, such as staff, rent, utilities, ingredients, equipment, and so on.

To keep you from losing your investment, you should consider applying for financial grants or loans. You can get funding from either the government, private banks, or private investors. Without enough  funding, running your  restaurant will be a lot more difficult. After all, 82% of small businesses fail due to poor cash flow management. 

Avoid making this mistake by carefully considering your finances from the start and tracking them so you can find better ways to improveyour cash flow

4. Create Your Menu

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Creating your menu is another aspect of restaurant planning that needs creativity and firm decision-making. If it’s too big, you’ll struggle to manage it; if it’s too small, customers might get bored.

Your menu is the face of your restaurant, so choosing which menu items to feature can be tricky . On top of that, it plays a critical role in your profits because these are the products that actually make you money.  

Here are some things to remember when deciding which items to include in your menu:

  • Have a list of key menu  items that you intend to offer your customers. Limiting items prevents you overwhelming your customers with a lot of food choices and makes it easier for your kitchen staff to meet demands.
  • Consider your target demographic when adding a menu item. If you intend to cater to health-conscious or vegetarian clients, you should have a variety of vegetables and vegan-friendly items.
  • Think about your target demographic when it comes to pricing. You need to decide if you’re going to go below market pricing to attract price-conscious customers or go above market pricing to attract those looking for a high-quality experience. 
  • Choose dishes with ingredients you can easily source at reasonable prices to keep food costs low. Seasonal menu items are a great way to do this and give regular customers something new to try. 
  • Create menu items that are easy to pair and upsell. After all, most patrons don’t go to a restaurant just to eat one thing.

Your menu will dictate the equipment you’ll need, the staff you need to consider, and which types of crowds to attract.

5. Buy Necessary Equipment

Choosing the right equipment for your restaurant ensures that your kitchen can function properly. The equipment you will need depends on the dishes you plan on serving. For example, if you plan to open a pizzeria, you need proper pizza deck ovens and enough rolling pins.

But it’s not just ovens and cutlery—you also need equipment to keep your restaurant organized.

Pro tip: Order a POS System

Securing a POS system can help streamline your overall processes and protect your profits. In fact, 57% of Quick Service Restaurant operators are planning to invest in more back-of-house technology like this. 

Another thing to keep in mind is  cashless payment as it’s becoming the default payment option for Filipino customers when dining in or ordering food online. So, not having a POS that can accept credit or debit card transactions means losing potential customers and profit.

6. Hire the Right Staff 

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The hiring stage of opening your new restaurant provides you with an excellent opportunity to build the perfect work culture. Putting thought into employee perks, training programs, and incentives will help ensure that all your team members are happy in  their roles. 

Since they’re the ones face-to-face with your customers, their attitude and performance is crucial to your success. 

Each restaurant is unique, but here are some of the common positions to fill when starting your own: 

  • General Manager
  • Kitchen Manager
  • Executive Chef
  • Servers
  • Bartenders/Baristas
  • Hosts
  • Dishwashers

When  you have a great team, from servers to chefs, your customers will have a great dining experience and keep coming back. More than just that, you have to make sure that you only hire essential staff who can run your business seamlessly. Hiring unnecessary staff will cost you money that otherwise would have been a profit.

7. Train Your Staff 

Once you’ve hired enough staff, you need to train them on safety, cleaning, cash/food handling, and hospitality, among other things. They should also have intimate knowledge of your menu so they can answer any customer’s questions or concerns.

Aside from  the usual training procedures, you should also teach your waitstaff how to upsell menu items. Doing so can enhance the overall dining experience because your customers will be impressed by a knowledgeable staff.  Plus,  it can add to revenues by increasing the average check.

8. Advertise Your Restaurant

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As you draw closer to opening your restaurant, getting the word out and attracting customers is vital. 

Advertising provides basic information about what type of cuisine you are serving and where you are located. And these days, 90% of customers research a restaurant online before they walk in. Knowing this, your main goal should be  to build excitement around your brand and stay within sight of your customers. 

There are endless ways to market your restaurant, both online and offline. To help you start, here are three simple tips for advertising your restaurant:

  1. Use Social Media 

As more and more people rely on social media for information, having a social media presence is a must to promote your restaurant. Depending on your target demographic, you can create Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even Tiktok accounts to share your restaurant’s information, like the location, contact details, and menu.  It’s also a great idea to share photos and videos to show off your atmosphere and iconic dishes.

  1. Offer Promotions 

We all love a good deal, especially if it offers something for free. Give your first-timers complimentary appetizers or desserts to welcome them. These give them an idea of what you have to offer, and help them gauge the ‘worth’ of your restaurant.
You can also offer coupons or discount cards to customers who write a review about your restaurant. This will bring in future customers since 92% of consumers read online reviews. Marketing through reviews is a great way to get more customers in the door without having to spend a dime.

  1. Partner with Local Influencers  

Influencers are one of the hottest trends in digital marketing. They can attract attention to your restaurant with their followers  and increase brand awareness. Inviting influencers is especially good when targeting a younger audience. For example, Gen Z consumers are more likely to trust online influencers and try brands they recommend.

Finding the right channel to advertise your restaurant will help you bring more clients to enjoy what your restaurant has to offer.

9. Have a Soft Opening

You are almost ready to open your doors to customers. But before the grand opening to the public, you should first test run your operations with friends, family, and even influencers by hosting a private, soft opening.

What is a “Soft Opening” for a restaurant? 

A soft opening is a private, invite-only event that happens a few weeks before your restaurant opens officially. It acts as a test run with limited capacity to ensure everything is operating smoothly and ready for a grand opening. 

Doing this will help you identify and iron out any kinks in your processes and procedures. It’s also a great way to generate buzz if you invite food bloggers or reporters to your event. Here are some ideas you can do for a soft opening:

  • Consider operating under a limited schedule for the first few days to help your staff familiarize with the process of cooking meals, serving guests, and using the POS system.
  • Invite friends and family to your soft opening and have their feedback on how you can better your services.
  • Offer a limited menu to highlight your best dishes and drinks, then invite customers to come back to the grand opening to enjoy the full menu.

Invest in the Right Restaurant Technology 

This restaurant opening checklist is a great way to ensure that you’ve thought of everything before opening a new restaurant. Use this guide to make sure you’re fully prepared to kick off your new business and blow away the competition.

Remember that every restaurant is different, so use these tips in a way that works best for your concept and niche.

Need more information on how to start a profitable restaurant? Contact us today, and we will gladly help you open your restaurant business seamlessly.