How to Start a Restaurant and Become a Culinary Success

Do you love food? Think you’re ready to start your own restaurant? Then, you’ve come to the right place! We talked to several successful restaurant owners, chefs, and entrepreneurs to get their opinion on how to start a restaurant. The first thing we learned is that it’s based on 20% food, 70% management, and 10% customer service. Sprinkle in a touch of business savviness and you’ve got a recipe for success! Read our step-by-step guide to get an idea of what you need to get your business started on the right footing. Let’s get started.

How to Start a Restaurant: Step-by-Step Guide

Launching a restaurant is one of the most popular paths into the world of enterprise. Its consistent rise in projected sales is one of the reasons why this industry is such a success. It’s estimated that by 2027, restaurant industry sales are projected to reach nearly $4 trillion.
Needless to say, like any business, it’s competitive and risky. This puts a lot of pressure on restaurant owners. They have to constantly come up with ideas that stand out from their competitors.
To make sure you avoid common pitfalls restaurateurs often face, follow our how-to guide.

Choose a Food Concept

Restaurant guests love a great dining experience combined with a well-thought-out menu. What they don’t like is anticipating one thing only to find something else entirely.
So, think about what foods you enjoy making and pick a certain concept for your restaurant. That’s what your guests should get every time they come to your restaurant.
Yes, you can add a daily special or a ‘Friday Surprise’ to keep customers intrigued. However, the menu should generally remain within the same structure.

Pick the Perfect Location

We can’t stress this enough: location is key! It’s extremely vital to the growth of your business. That said, you have to think about what your budget can handle, and look for a place accordingly.
Try to find a place located in a busy area that draws in lots of people. It should also be easily accessible
Remember, it’s better to start small and gain steady growth. You don’t want to take a big, expensive leap only to have your business fail.

File the Paperwork

You know what foods you want to serve, you’ve found a location, and you’ve even picked out a name for your restaurant. So, what’s next? Licenses and permits. Those are your lifeline. Without them, health inspectors can effectively shut you down for good.
The first document you need to fill out is a business plan. A business plan is a detailed outline that explains your restaurant’s objectives. It also describes your strategy for how to meet these objectives.
Even though it’s a pretty basic document, it has many elements that have to be included. Make sure you don’t overlook any details. This is the blueprint that maps out your vision for all to see.
Here are 10 basic licenses and permits you need to run a safe, hygienic, and fully operational restaurant:
  1. Business license
  2. Building health permit
  3. Employee health permit
  4. Employer Identification Number
  5. Tax identification number
  6. Sign permit
  7. Dumpster placement permit
  8. Music/Live entertainment permits
  9. Resale permit
  10. Foodservice license

Finance Your Restaurant

Luckily, there are a handful of funding options that can help get your business on its feet. The trick is to find something long-term.
It’s safe to assume that you won’t make any money for the first few months. Don’t worry, all businesses take time before they begin making a profit. This is why you should set aside some means of cash flow until the money starts rolling in.
Here are several options that can hopefully get your restaurant opened and help it stay open:
  • Bank loans
  • Online lenders and credit unions that offer similar terms and conditions as regular banks
  • Public funding
  • Crowdfunding

Build a Winning Team

Any successful business needs a solid foundation. As a restaurant owner, your foundation is the people who help your business stay open day in and day out. This includes staff, as well as food and equipment suppliers.


Finding good staff to carry the load with you can be a struggle. Some owners do a soft opening with only a temporary manager and a couple of staff just to test the waters. Once you see how things run, then you’ll know if you need to hire more staff.
After that, you’ll need to invest in employee training. It’ll clearly explain what their job descriptions are, as well as the codes of conduct. When they know what’s expected of them, the restaurant will be a more harmonious environment.

Food Suppliers

In the restaurant industry, your food supplier is your best friend. They’ll be able to offer you discounts, free shipping, and other benefits when you order in bulk.
Local markets are a great way to find suppliers. You’ll have a fresh supply of all the food items you need daily at competitive prices!

Equipment Suppliers

Restaurant tools and equipment can take out a big chunk of your budget if you’re not careful. The first thing you have to do is to make a list of what you need. This will mainly depend on your menu.
Next, make two lists: buy and lease. Buy the items you’ll be using daily and lease those you don’t use as much.

Market Your Restaurant

The Internet is always a good place to start. One of the amazing things about social media is it allows you to create promotions and package deals. You can set up offers, like getting a free coffee with your bagel or a ‘2-for-1’ special on the weekends.
You can also place ads in the local paper. If there’s a community fair, book a table and cover it with goodies from your restaurant.
Another way to liven things up is to host various events to attract customers. Check out these profitable and fun ideas to generate some buzz and get diners excited.
  • Charity events
  • Book club meetings
  • Live music/Comedy night: book local musicians and comedians once or twice a week
  • Theme nights: customers can dress up or come in and enjoy the ambiance
  • Ladies’/men’s nights: offer specials on appetizers, desserts, or drinks


Despite its challenges, the restaurant business is a creative, vibrant, fast-paced industry. To make sure you’re on the right track, follow our step-by-step guide on how to start a restaurant and launch a successful business you can be proud of!