Planning Tips for Restaurant Openings

You’ve Got  to Have a Plan

Before you sign a lease or lay down the concrete pad for your new restaurant, you need a plan. The better the plan, the greater your chance for success.

What kind of restaurant do you want to open and what motivation will people have to come? What’s going to make you different from all the other restaurants, with established reputations in the neighborhood.

Like any successful business, you should open something that you will enjoy owning and operating. If you’re just doing for the money, find another interest. Running a restaurant is just too difficult.

Start with location. Are you in a shopping mall or theatre complex?  On some busy intersection with plenty of potential street business walking by. Across the street from a large condo?  Or maybe you’re out in the country, with a scenic view of some body of water. Possibly a restaurant where singles will want to gather on the way home from work. Happy Hour/sports bar leads into dinner.  Definitely more beer sales than wine.

Location alone will help establish your potential clientele, which will help determine the food you can successfully offer and the mood of your restaurant.

In a shopping mall?  Lunch may be a bigger meal than dinner.  Shoppers, mostly women, some with kids. Bright, roomy seating, with a place to put shopping bags, finger food for the kids, medium priced, well known food items with no surprises. Salads and sandwiches, easy on the heavy food. Maybe even breakfast for the other store owners.

Scenic view? Sounds like a place couples would opt for a special event. They’re going to be looking for interesting food and décor . . . something different. Upscale offering, (which will support upscale prices)  Maybe mix in a strawberry compote into your vinaigrette dressing, just to make a ‘different’ taste . . . or a hollowed out mound of mashed potatoes, topped with a little garnish. And, of course, you’ll need an ample wine cellar. Feature these special items on your menu or, if practical, even on the front panel of your restaurant menu covers.

Of course, wherever you are, you will end up with a mix of clientele, you can’t focus on any one group . . . but you can do your best to make them all comfortable. Upscale? You’ll need
more room between tables and a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Sports bar/ TV sets around the room, tables closer together for easier intermingling.

Your location will help create the demographics of your clientele, your clientele will help shape your menu, your menu will help lay out your kitchen and dining room.

Your choice of location is just the beginning, but you’ve already established your goal for primary clientele and serving employees. Remember they’ve got to be motivated just as
much as your customers. Their tips are based on your seatings x average check.

#6  in a series of comments and suggestions by Mark R. Strange

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