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How to Open a Successful Restaurant in 9 Steps.

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Yeah, sorry I wish it was easy. If it was, everybody would be doing it right? Sometimes I think restaurant failures are linked to the fact that the wrong people decide to open restaurants...Anyway, I'm not writing about failure, but success. These steps are essential, yet are often completely neglected. So lets go! I'll include some associated costs for each step, and some final thoughts on the industry in 2022.

Create a restaurant business plan

Like any other industry, as the business owner you will need to think through all aspects of your developing food establishment when creating a plan.

  • Your restaurant concept

  • A market analysis

  • Sample menu design and details

  • Financial support and restaurant funding

  • Required restaurant equipment

  • A marketing plan

  • Your restaurant design

  • The location setting

  • Your employee hiring processes

  • An executive summary bringing it all together

COST; $1200-5000. You can do it yourself, or hire a consultant like myself. This is no small task, and is absolutely necessary!

Develop the Menu with a Chef

Unless you are a chef, or have had considerable success with restaurants already, hire a qualified chef! Work closely with your chef as you develop a menu suited to your brand research. When determining menu items, mull over the type of food, quality of ingredients, and item price range you had in mind. Are you developing a menu based on regional cuisines, or are you offering a hybrid of dishes? Your hours of operation might also affect your menu or menus. Will you have a separate lunch and dinner menu, or just one menu that covers all meal types?

COST; Another absolute! A good chef's salary is usually calculated as a percentage of sales, and part of your labour operating costs. A restaurant expecting to do $1.000.000 in sales can expect to pay around $50.000 a year plus . The menu process is handled by the chef, which eliminates the need to hire a consultant like


This should almost be first really. Restaurants are an expensive venture, and with COVID still looming it's very risky. Banks wont touch you unless you have cash or equity, they never have been to be honest. The reason is the high failure rate. 60% fail in the first year, 80% in five years, YIKES! So what's left? Your own money, private investors, equity loans or refinancing your own assets. There is also friends and family, but I don't recommend it.

COST; The cost here is based on borrowing. In the likely case you borrow, there will be interest to pay. If it's a private lender or an equity loan, the interest is likely to be much higher than a bank rate.


When browsing for your most ideal real estate, will you be looking at rental properties or wanting to purchase an empty lot or building? Do you want to be close to the highway or A main street to be accessible to high levels of traffic, or do you want a location that is off the beaten path for a more intimate venue? If your chef has a following of sorts, this may not matter so much. Of course a chef of this caliber comes with a higher salary! I would also strongly advise against renting or leasing. WHY? When you lease a property, you are at the risk of losing everything if it doesn't work out, including your chattels.

COST; this is the big one, your biggest expense. To lease in any population dense area you are looking at around $6000 a month for a 50 seat (1500 square feet) space. That's $72,000 a year. Better off finding funds to finance a space, at least you some equity to work with moving forward. And don't forget about ALL the associated costs like, electricity, water, taxes, gas, etc...

Consider the layout of your restaurant

Once you’ve found the perfect location for your restaurant, now is the time to measure up the building and decide the place’s interior design and layout. Walk around the building and imagine the best use of the space, accounting for foot traffic of customers and wait staff.

Where will you put the main seating area? What area of the restaurant does it make the most sense to place the bar and the kitchen? Will you have a waiting area? These are all questions you should write down the answers to when designing your restaurant’s layout and flow.

COST; Restaurant layout and design is another significant cost. At this point all you have is a box. You have to plan your design in accordance with your BRAND. Is it Fine Dining or QSR? You have to consider everything, MARKETING PLAN? Tables and chairs, smallwares, interior design, bar, kitchen design and equipment...


With your food items determined and the quality of ingredients set, you will need to find a food supplier that fits these parameters. To ensure your food dishes and menu items are up to your standards, you’ll need to work with a supplier who can provide you with all the fresh and high-quality ingredients you need. Same with beverage and other suppliers.

COST; These are part of your start up costs. You should have enough money to cover at least the first month of inventory. For example; If your estimated sales in your first month are $100,000, based on the industry standard of 33%, you will need $30,000 plus to open.

Hire employees and set up payroll

It is best to go into the hiring process with a plan of action and the qualities and attributes you wish to see in your future employees. This is especially true when covering your customer service needs. Listing job openings online can help you reach a wider pool of potential candidates while conducting face-to-face interviews can help narrow down your choices for the perfect fits.

COST; Once again these are start up costs. Same rules, and basic numbers as above. Set aside a months payroll going in. $30,000 plus.

Marketing and Restaurant Launch...not a free lunch!

Before opening your doors to the public, you should focus on the marketing of your restaurant. Getting the word out about your new dining establishment is essential to cultivating customers. Social media can help you at this time. Conduct some market research to find out what social media platforms your target customers use the most and begin there.

Many restaurants establish themselves to the public by hosting a grand opening or a soft opening, or both. A soft opening allows you and your staff to have a trial run of its operations, as it serves a small number of people. A soft opening can build buzz around your restaurant and provide you with feedback on your food and service before the grand opening.

A grand opening can be a lavish affair, as your restaurant throws open its doors to the wider public. This event can help your restaurant make a splash in the community and spread the word about your delicious dishes and exciting new ambiance. Word of mouth can be a powerful thing.

COST; These costs are variable. Use your imagination, marketing can be economical if you know what your doing. As for the opening, I suggest at least one "open house, VIP" event. Market your Grand Opening at this event! Take suggestions, listen to your customers, always!

Other Costs often forgotten.

There are so many things to consider when opening a restaurant, I'm really just glossing over things here. Here is a list of other considerations.

  • POS and other software/hardware needs. $5000 plus

  • permits, bylaws, and regulations. Costs vary, at least $3000

  • Accountant, Lawyers, and so much more...again you can do some of this yourself. I don't recommend it!


Just to wrap things up, it will cost you at least $500.000 to open a 50 seat restaurant today in Canada. If you have that kind of money to throw away, have at it. If you don't, consider doing something else. I have more than a few GOLDEN ideas that cost significantly less, and will likely bring you a better paycheck than a restaurant will. In the event that you have a dream for an amazing restaurant concept, please consider everything stated above! Remember that a little planning will save huge financial headaches down the road. Feel free to contact me anytime!

I'm always willing to listen, and it doesn't cost to much for sound advice. Cheers, and have a great weekend!

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