Starting a restaurant is something that every chef grows up dreaming about. The idea of crafting your own menu, and eventually winning a Michelin star is certainly alluring! Of course, there is a lot of hard-work along the way, not to mention the expense of getting started.
But, if you truly believe in the project, and you have some skill as a chef, there’s every chance it will become a success. We spoke to some of the best restaurateurs in the game to find out the secrets of their success. It all starts with careful planning in the early stages. This period is critical to the future, so take your time. Here’s how to get it just right.
Choose a niche – Think about the range of restaurants in your local area. Each one survives because it provides something different to the others. As an independent restaurant, you need an individual identity and niche to draw attention. We always suggest that chefs follow their heart and experience here. Tap into your own culture, and develop a cuisine that means something to you. Try not to follow the crowd here. This is something that all startups must do from day one: find a unique selling point.
Location, location, location – The location of your restaurant is one of the most important factors in its success. Start by matching your menu and identity to the right local area. Take into account the clientele you’re searching for. If your target audience is students, look for leases in and around your local university. If you’re looking for high-income, fine dining customers, make sure you position your restaurant in upmarket areas. This is simple common sense, but make sure you get it right!
Create the perfect menu – Crafting your very own menu is the most exciting part of starting a restaurant. It’s your chance to express your creativity, and prove yourself as a quality chef. There are a few things to be aware of here, however. First of all, try to keep it on the short side. Customers prefer a simple, sparing choice. It will also allow you to keep those initial cost down, and make you more productive in the kitchen. Where possible, try to use the same ingredients across a number of dishes to keep costs down.
Equipment and vendors – Running a restaurant is about more than just good food. You also need to invest in the right equipment, and track down the best vendors. You’ll need a variety of commercial kitchen equipment to get started. Some of the top kitchens will use a commercial vacuum sealer to extend the shelf life of products. They’ll invest in industrial freezers, and top class grills.
Marketing and promotion – As a new restaurateur, it’s up to you to drive customers through the door. No matter how good your food is, without great marketing, you’ll never survive the first year. You need fantastic local press coverage, and plenty of awareness throughout the city.
These are the simple basics to consider before you get started. We’d love to hear from experienced restaurant owners out there. What are the secrets to your success?