Making Your Restaurant Dream Come True

Some people eat to live and some live to eat. Some people live to cook.  If you have always dreamed of opening your own restaurant, you need both a passion for food as well as knowledge and perseverance to be a business owner. Over 50% of all new restaurants fail within the first two years. That is a scary statistic, but it also means that 50% succeed. Here are some tips to help you be one of the success stories:


  • Do your research. Read books about being a restaurateur that are written by people you respect. Read about the trials and tribulations and stories of triumphs they went through at the beginning of their careers. Find the common threads among the winners that made them successful. A great guide can be found here from Groupons.
  • Make a serious, detailed business plan. Include every aspect of business processes, startup expenses, employee needs, advertising, etc. If this process is way beyond your expertise, you may want to hire a consultant. A good plan is key to obtaining funding.
  • Plan out your full menu. Test recipe versions on your friends and family and have dinner parties. Let people that eat your food know that you want honest constructive criticism of your dishes. These people will probably be very encouraging and may end up being potential investors. Try catering parties, to get more feedback. Make a detailed analysis about how much each meal costs to produce, to use in profit calculations.
  • Get incorporated. Laws and fees for forming a corporation vary from state to state. It is best to hire a lawyer, especially if there will be multiple investors or owners.
  • Research the laws governing restaurants in your city and state. You will probably need a business license and will have to meet health department codes.
  • Think about what will make your food and your restaurant unique and special in your area. This will be key to branding.
  • After you get the place built and have hired your crew, have a few private parties and a “soft opening,” to work the kinks out of the flow of getting the food to the tables in a timely and efficient manner. Use this time to make menu or crew adjustments. Let your first customers know that they are appreciated and ask them for their feedback after meals. Make them feel invested in the process of helping you succeed. Be generous with refunds for unsatisfied customers and even give them gift certificates to come back and give you another shot. These first customers will make or break your business, so treat them like family.
  • Get your marketing going. Set up social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter. Get at least a simple website going. Get a Groupon Local page set up up for free, for your restaurant. It will feature you with photos, deals and coupons, customer reviews and even driving directions.  It is more effective than other online marketing because the directory is city specific. For example, if someone were in on vacation in New York City, staying in Manhattan, they could browse for a variety of food they wanted, a neighborhood and even a price point. For example, if they wanted Mexican they might end up viewing the page for website with deals and helpful information that will bring their business to that establishment.  Getting started is easy, just start the process here, and you will be given lots of help by their friendly staff.
  • Be hands-on. This is your dream, be there to get it up and rolling. Guide your staff to understanding the standards you expect.

Give back to the community. It “takes a village” to make a restaurant a success. Show the community that you appreciate their help and patronage, by helping the community be a better place. Support local youth organizations and clubs, have a training program for young chefs or donate leftover food to food banks and homeless shelters.  The good “Karma” will help your business thrive.