A Quick Guide to help you open your first restaurant

So you finally made the decision

The restaurant business is for you. Even though our company and this blog specializes in a complete but “Internet-Only” solution for your business, we have put together a quick guideline with resources to help your dream become a reality.

The truth of the matter is, we wrote plenty of articles on how much work there is in a restaurant, how small the profits (if you ever reach them) are and how much strenuous labor there is - The restaurant can be a great business if the correct plan is in place, along with a good location, good streamlined business procedures, a correct menu in place and correct systems to help smooth everything along.

Let’s Start Here:

First thing first: Secure your brand's internet presence.

You can contact us at CurrentLVL and we can help secure it for you without any costs, when time comes to open our All-In-One internet package will be all ready to support your brand

This is the first step into securing a direct connection with customers who will be searching for you, upon making your opening, your neighbors will begin searching for you. This time is critical to present yourself the way you want to be presented. Describe your food, your specialty if you offer, promote a main feature, promote weekday specials, weekend specials. Just make it well known to your neighbors that you are here and you have this, and they are welcome to try.

So many restaurants just open the doors, sign up to a bunch of 3rd party websites and are ready for business… Only to close 6 months later, and we have Case Studies of local restaurants closing soon after they open.

Second: Find a great location

We discussed how important a good location is, now is your time to use this knowledge in creating a successful venture. Our points here proved that even if rent is more, by breaking down the amount of free exposure, walk traffic and breaking that down by the hours you are open, we will quickly see saving money on rent vs a good location is never a good choice.

Third: Choose your concept

You may have the cuisine already ready in your mind. Whether it’s Pizza, Italian, Greek, Burger Spot or a Southwest Tex mex type of restaurant. Now is the time based on what the location and area provide to decide on the concept of your business.

Any cuisine can have a different concept. Pizza can be both Fast Food as well as Fine Dining. Southwest Tex mex can be a fine restaurant & bar or a fast take out spot. This is the meaning of a concept. Found a great small to medium size location next to a busy train stop and bus stop - a “Fast Casual” type of place can fit perfect, while a larger restaurant with a private parking lot can be more of a dine in type of spot

Fourth: Follow all the correct Government Guidelines in your City & State.

For example NYC: Visit Opening a Restaurant on NYC.GOV
You can search for your cities .gov websites which are dedicated to government officials giving real required information on what’s needed;

These official websites will guide you on all the correct permits, signs, requirements and inspections for your upcoming restaurant.

✓ Create a check-list of what’s required in your city

✓ Placement of Hood Vents

✓ How many sinks would your establishment need

✓ How far the sinks should be away from the kitchen

✓ Where should the signs be telling employees to wash hands

You will be surprised how many restaurants call us to take them offline and post messages on the sites/apps that they will be returning soon - due to a simple sink requirement, or a simple missing bathroom sign. It happens.

Fifth Bringing your restaurant to life

Even though it’s time to build; before doing so write down a few different plans on paper. Draw out a system to make things as efficient and organized as possible. While you may change processes and re-organize things, the way you originally set up your hood, fryers and grills will be mostly how they will remain for the life of the business.

Efficient flow of the kitchen, an order comes in, start to finish, leaving room for the least amount of mistakes. A good workflow starts from the counter, an order comes to the foundation of the dish whether it’s a bowl, a sandwich, a plate, a wrap, moves down the line for the first set of platings, second, third until it’s all good and ready to be packed. The packing line contains all the sauces, utensils and finishings and it’s own the door in a circular fashion.

Most franchises have automated and singled each item, local restaurants should follow the flow to stay efficient.

Building the front of the house should be as efficient for the customers as well. Is it a take out place, where a customer can order and then go to the pick-up window or a fast casual where the customer sits and is served.

Sixth: Staff, Workers and Training

It’s time to hire, but again make a work-flow plan on paper first. What kind of employees are your looking for, is your system automated or requires a professional chef. Do you need counter service, wait staff, topping/prep people to make your operation as effective for the entire 360 degrees of your business.

Create a task list for each part of the staff. Who will fold the napkins and fill the sugar containers, who will fill up the sauce cups, chop the lettuce, will the cook do anything when there are no orders. Creating a task list will help the hiring process greatly as the outline will be there and there won’t be any confusion of who signed up for what and not.

Seventh: Opening

A soft quiet opening is crucial for a certain time frame depending on the size of your business. Small spots can get away with 2 weeks of soft opening while fine dining places need 3 months to work out the kinks.

A soft opening requires to be quiet, no huge signs that read “OPENED”. We all wants business right away, and have to pay our employees - but the worst thing that can happen is being overwhelmed for 2 months just to see your restaurant hit a huge peak and find it’s way falling ever since. every business has a lifespan, you don’t want to be at the peak upon opening because at the peak, there is nothing but down.

I am writing this and it’s actually scary thinking about how many businesses we saw open up which were bombarded the first month or so, only to go struggle soon after.

Eight: Advertising a Real Opening

You may have heard that word “Advertising Pays, it Doesn’t Cost”. There are truths to this statement. It’s time to create an AD plan that works, unfortunately most advertising does not - but upon your grand opening it’s okay because the idea is to get people to see your name and offering.

First create an idea of what you are advertising, a Grand Opening along with what you specialize in, maybe a call to action as “Come join us this Thursday for Happy Hour Grand Opening $1 Tacos, $2 Quesadillas, $3 Burritos. You're already spending money advertising, the promotion is just a little more to help create action of the promo. Remember it doesn’t have to be a discount, you can hire a local artist to do a signing or offer face painting for the kids. Anything that revolves around your concept.

Methods of Advertising

Unfortunately the world is becoming scattered. 15 Years ago you would be able to advertise on your local “Cable” and hit a general population of your area during 6 o'clock.

Today people are everywhere and nowhere. Some are on the web, some are on TV, some are playing a game. Whatever the case the world today has changed to people are where they want to be.

If a person is hungry, they are likely to visit a local dining guide on the web. Or do a search for a certain time of restaurant on the web. Some people are looking for coupons and can find them either on the web or in their mailings.

While your own CurrentLVL site, app and ordering is important;
You may want to join a local web directory which can help display your menus, photos and promotions to people who are not directly searching for you

✓ Be sure to keep your budgets in check, some national web companies charge HUGE amounts just for a basic web presence. Stick with company that offer small monthly fee’s for complete listings and exposure.

✓ Mailings, either direct or part of a pack are a good way to create a general blanket within your area

✓ Signs on windows is extremely important, especially in a good locations, those signs will bring people in from the streets.

Nine: Operating the Business

Our company CurrentLVL (Current Level) was really born on all of these issues, to help a restaurant operate their business smoothly without having to worry about the constant changing web technology.

Operations should continue on improving on all aspects of the store front.

Counting your money: :) very wishful thinking - it really does takes years to build a real customer base and only then do you start to keep your company in the black.

This checklist hopefully would help your restaurant get an idea of everything from start to opening the doors. The most important is making a plan on each steps of the phase.

CurrentLVL is a complete Web Solution for Restaurants (Site, App, Ordering) View Chart of all features include