Your Guide to Opening a Restaurant With No Experience


When opening a restaurant with no experience, you’ll want to rely on trusted resources and mentors to show you how you can make the best of this opportunity. Although this new venture can be exciting, it can also pile the stress onto you and your family. Depending on what your family situation and finances look like, opening up a restaurant can put a strain on your wallet. It can also change the family dynamic if your restaurant is a family business. Still, if you’re prepared for all of the changes and challenges that can come from opening a restaurant on your own before you’ve gained enough experience to be a pro at it, you will have hope to reap the rewards of owning a restaurant in due time.

Gain First-Hand Experience

If you work in the restaurant industry, you may also notice that there are regulations related to every aspect of the establishment. From the way that employees are protected against injuries at work through workers’ compensation policies to the hand-washing practices and other food safety protocols that ensure that diseases are less likely to spread from the folks who work in the restaurant to the general public, there are a lot of food service regulations that will be important to understand before you cut the ribbon to open the doors of your restaurant. If you dream of owning a restaurant, you may have that goal because it will allow you to work for yourself and set your hours while doing what you love.

Still, it pays to gain some experience taking orders from other people. You can notice how one chef runs a kitchen versus how another one might. You can also take notes from management and see what you like about them or what you don’t like about what they do. This way, you’ll learn how you’ll want to lead your team in your restaurant to success.

Find a Location

When you’re getting serious about opening a restaurant with no experience, location is everything. As you contact a commercial real estate brokerage company, you should ask questions like whether they have helped new or green business owners find a restaurant and what they usually charge for their services. Once you’ve found someone to help you find the perfect location for your restaurant, it’s time to sort through different offerings of places that are available to buy. Depending on the type of cuisine you wish to serve, you should consider balancing competition and collaboration with other business owners. On one hand, you don’t want to be the tenth restaurant that offers burritos within a couple of blocks of a city. On the other hand, if zero restaurants have your type of cuisine, it could mean that you don’t have any potential business in the area if your style of cooking doesn’t fit the local palate.

As you’re looking for a location, you should think about what you can afford. While you may dream of owning a restaurant in the ritziest neighborhood in a major city like New York or Paris, you might not have the finances to fund that dream before your restaurant becomes more successful. Even if your business is booming and you can afford to pay rent on a restaurant location that is high-class and pricey today, you might go through leaner times in your business where living in a high-cost-of-living area will be a burden.

Depending on what type of place you choose to use as the setting for your restaurant, you may have to install your commercial kitchen equipment or make adjustments to the layout of the building to satisfy current building regulations in your municipality for restaurants. To avoid failing an inspection, you should become aware of local restaurant building laws before opening up your business. Some areas may have stricter laws that make it more challenging to construct a building that is legally suitable for occupying a restaurant. Others may have laxer regulations that also mean that you’ll have stiffer competition for your restaurant if it’s an attractive area for established or new restaurants.

Build the Business

While the restaurant industry has some specific things that you’ll need to consider as you’re opening a restaurant with no experience such as calling a commercial construction contractor and delving into the basic principles of architect design, you should build your business using the best practices for entrepreneurial endeavors in your particular field. Opening a restaurant takes a lot of work, planning, and determination. To build a restaurant empire from the ground up, you must start somewhere. This could mean selling small batches of food out of your home to friends and family or buying a food truck or food cart before you begin looking into restaurant locations for a large brick-and-mortar location.

When you build a business, you should have a business plan in place. It can be as detailed or vague as you would like, but it should give you a roadmap for how you plan your business. The more details and information you can include in your business plan, the easier it will be to follow that direction with your business development. In the same way that you’ll have a hard time finding a building for an appointment if someone simply gestures and says “It’s over there,” you’ll have a tough time building a business intelligently if your business plan only states that you want to own a restaurant at some point without any greater indications of how you would do that.

If you need help figuring out where to lay the foundation of your business, you can start by taking business courses for free online or low costs at a community college. You can also ask friends who own a business how they started if you have those types of people in your circle. Finally, you may have resources in your area for starting a business in general or opening a restaurant. No matter how you decide to go about creating your business, it’s wise to make a solid plan and modify it as you gain new knowledge and information. A business plan isn’t set in stone. You can change it at any time or throw it out and create a new one. Still, it’s a good starting place that shows what you’re planning on doing to make your business dreams a reality.

Work On the Kitchen

If you buy a building that doesn’t have a commercial kitchen or any kitchen at all, you’ll want to call up a kitchen remodeling service or a team of contractors from different places who can handle the job. Although you might not know everything as someone who is opening a restaurant with no experience, you should know that a restaurant needs a kitchen. Unless you intend to prepare the food in a separate location or have someone cater the food in your restaurant while it acts as an event venue, a kitchen is necessary.

Before you begin tearing down walls or installing equipment, you should read up on local building codes. You may need special permits that will allow you to build a kitchen or make modifications to a building. You may also need to read up on fire safety and other key concerns before you start working on remodeling the kitchen in your building.

When you build the kitchen, you should consider how it flows into the front end of the restaurant. You should try to design it so it’s easy for wait staff to quickly navigate from the place in the kitchen where they pick up food for orders to the customers. You should also try to make it so that all of the necessary stations are included in your commercial kitchen. When you plan your kitchen so that it’s intuitive for workers and inspectors to navigate, you’ll save yourself the headache of remodeling down the road if it doesn’t work for your staff.

Work With a Lawyer

Although you might not think you need an attorney unless you’ve committed a crime, the truth is that it’s wise to consult with legal counsel, especially when you’re opening a restaurant with no experience. A lawyer can help you navigate commercial law and protect your interests if you’re working with a business partner. They can also tell you what regulations you should consider when you’re hiring your first round of employees for your business. Additionally, they can help you to prevent liability or tackle liability problems if they arise. Although you might not need a lawyer immediately, there may come the point in owning your business when it is helpful to have a lawyer in mind that you trust. It’s best to get this person in your address book or contacts in your phone before you need them.

Prepare Your Menu

One of the most fun parts of opening a restaurant with no experience is concocting a menu that excites you, your staff, and, most importantly, your future customers! If you’ve made it to the point of developing a business where you can create a menu, you’re doing something right. While creating a menu can be a fun and creative process, there are some practical things you need to consider as you’re doing it.

You should think about whether your foods could trigger someone’s food allergies. You’ll also want to start to consider how your menu options reflect your brand. Will you use high-end ingredients or stick to humble, wholesome ones? How many ingredients can you use for multiple dishes? What are good ways to design your menu so you can reduce food waste and food costs? These questions are important to answer if you want to design a menu that works for you as well as your customer base.

Research Competition

Researching local restaurants and internationally acclaimed ones is an important step in opening a restaurant with no experience. If you’ve never owned a restaurant, you probably don’t know what competition is out there. Even if you love certain restaurants, you’ll need to think about how they might compete with yours and what you can do to stand out from the crowd if you want to succeed.

Install HVAC

Contacting HVAC companies is a key aspect of opening a restaurant with no experience. When your restaurant is comfortable, guests will feel more inclined to stay there to eat. They may also recommend it to their friends if they feel like the climate in the restaurant is pleasant.

Lay a Parking Lot

While calling commercial asphalt companies might not seem like something you’d do as you’re opening a restaurant with no experience, it matters. Your parking lot is your company’s first impression. As a result, you should spend time addressing problems with the parking lot like fading lines.

Protect Your Business

Make sure your restaurant is secure by consulting with a commercial locksmith. They’ll help you if you’re opening a restaurant with no experience. Once your restaurant is secure and safe, you can focus on enjoying your business and helping customers to get the best experience possible out of it.

Before you try to open a restaurant of your own, it pays to work in someone else’s restaurant or in an industry that uses the same techniques that the restaurant business might utilize to run a business. Although it may seem like an unconventional way to become a business owner, you can start from the bottom of the restaurant industry “food chain” and begin your journey by working in restaurants. Even if your first food service job is as humble as a fast food franchise or a small sit-down restaurant in the middle of nowhere, you’ll still get an idea of how running a restaurant works by spending time in the industry.

Although you could read tens or hundreds of books on the subject or take courses that will teach you how to run a restaurant, the truth is that nothing beats personal experience. Even if you have a degree in business, what you learn from lectures, textbooks, and assignments may not match the best practices in the industry after you graduate. If it’s been a while since you were in college or university, you may also find that some practices become downright outdated over time

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