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Opening a new restaurant – The essential checklist to start up success

The past year and a half have been rough on the hospitality sector and no doubt forced many plans for new ventures to be postponed. But as we’re slowly moving towards ‘business as usual’, we have put together a checklist to help you tick off the must-dos to help you ensure start-up.


1. Your distinctive concept

Coming up with your unique idea acts as a key guide to help you align your branding with everything you do; from the interior design and messaging to your menu items and more. This goes hand in hand with market research and spot potential gaps in the market, ensuring you have something unique to offer. Whether it is a standout ambience, entertaining service, exotic menu items or a themed component, a unique characteristic is essential in our opening a restaurant checklist to not only align your messaging but stand out against potential competitors.

2. Put together a business plan

A business plan will help you organise and timestamp the tasks ahead and guide you through the process. From investors, budgeting and menu creation to staff hiring, creating a management structure and more, it will be a vital prerequisite before you take your first order and function as your go-to list to expand on and refine your executive summary, description and market analysis.


3. Find the right location

Location scouting is vital when you are deciding where to put up shop; it will require you to research the neighbourhood and ensure that the potential for demand is high, whether by taking the time to get to know the community and measure interest or scoping out the competition. When you have determined your target customer base in your business plan, location will play a key factor in ensuring that you are offering something distinct and in-demand unique to your location, keeping in mind basic factors including accessibility.


4. What goes into your Menu

Creating your menu is one of the more exciting tasks in your opening a restaurant checklist and where you get to build out your vision. While this will strongly influence your branding, it will also affect logistics; from what equipment you will need to purchase to targeting your market audience and setting the pricing to stay competitive. This means you will need to take into account the cost of goods, profit margins and restaurant inventory management before you finalise your menu.


5. Get the right POS system

With the right restaurant pos systems, you will be able to expand your capabilities beyond just the outdated legacy systems or overused excel spreadsheets. Using a table ordering service as well as a mobile ordering system,  you will be able to automate a whole host of processes that are usually labour-expensive and time-consuming such as the end-user order entries, payment processing and more.

And perhaps most importantly, POS systems offer table management features that are tailored to answer restaurant-specific demands and help your staff navigate orders via table layout which you can customise to match your floor plan. This means your staff can access all order information while staying mobile and implementing the latest restaurant payment technology. Other restaurant-bespoke solutions include:

  • Table and tab management
  • Real-time menu editing
  • Kitchen Display Screen
  • Loyalty features including points-based programs
  • Ingredient-level stock management
  • Wastage reporting


6. Funding and finances

The capital needed to open a restaurant is often more than merchants-to-be may expect. If you consider that your budget will have to account for the venue, equipment, marketing and keep-up, not to mention that it will often take a couple of years for your restaurant to simply break even, you will want to acquire a sizable budget to cover the expenses necessary.

Investors are therefore key to providing you with the working capital and your fleshed-out business plan will provide further security for those interested in partnering with you; whether that is a bank, private investors or companies. There will also be a number of business loans available to you that you may want to consider.


7. Hire your team

Your staff are walking and talking representations of your brand and therefore a key proponent in the success of your restaurant.  From waiters to chefs and managers, there will be a number of positions to be filled depending on the size and demand of your restaurant and the recruitment can be lengthy so it is always a good idea to get the process started ahead of time.

You will be able to use job boards, referrals, career sites and recruitment agencies to find talent and if you are unsure about the level of restaurant demand you will see, you can always opt for several contractual short-term employees to fill in when needed.

It is important to treat this as a fully-fledged interview process; craft a job description and communicate your essentials and ideals, prepare interview questions and have a vetting process in place including reference checks.