Opening a Restaurant Checklist Guide For New Business Owners

Published on:
February 10, 2024
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Has the idea of opening your dream restaurant crossed your mind?

Given the current state of the economy—high food prices, ongoing labor shortages, and the myth that 90% of restaurants fail in their first year—that could seem like a daring endeavor. If you're still thinking of starting a restaurant, don't let this stop you.

Individuals like dining in restaurants now more than ever. According to a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, 64% of customers consider restaurants an integral part of their daily lives. Additionally, by the end of 2023, restaurant revenues are expected to reach about $1 trillion. Greater than $864 billion in 2019.

That being said, it is quite possible to create a successful restaurant in the current modern day.

It does, however, indicate that there is fierce competition. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting, you need a sound plan to get your company off the ground. 

To help you get there, either with a new food business, or a restaurant managemnt company for that matter, we have put together this article and our Opening a Restaurant Checklist to act as a thorough, step-by-step guide.

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What is a Restaurant Operations Checklist?

The daily operations checklist of a restaurant is a set of actions that the management and staff must do every day, both before and after the restaurant opens.

Either a paper copy or a digital version that can be accessed on a tablet or other device can be used for the checklist.

As a general rule, a opening a restaurant checklist template will divide duties into three sections: front-of-house, back-of-house, and management.

Why You Need A Restaurant Opening & Operations Checklist?

An exhaustive daily checklist of standard operating procedures when opening a restaurant should be in place at every restaurant. To help with restaurant operations, a checklist is useful for:

  • Streamline daily restaurant operations – To keep things moving well at your restaurant, make sure your employees have a list of things to do before the restaurant opens and closes.
  • Improve staff accountability – Assigning a specific employee to do each task on a restaurant checklist is a great way to encourage more responsibility and accountability among workers.
  • Provide a consistent level of customer service – Maintaining a high standard of customer care at all times is possible when you offer your employees daily tasks with specific deadlines.
  • Prevent accidents in the kitchen – In every restaurant kitchen, safety must always come first. The best way to keep everyone safe is to have a well-defined set of daily safety measures to follow.
  • Meet food safety standards – Infractions on food safety might incur substantial expenses. To make sure your kitchen crew follows the rules, write down a list of things they need to do daily.

Opening a Restaurant Checklist - Step by Step Guide

1. Envision your Restaurant Concept

It usually takes a lot of talking, researching, and brainstorming to come up with a good, lucrative restaurant idea. The visitor is the one who initiates everything. 

Owners of popular eateries have a firm grasp of their clientele, their preferences, and the best ways to satisfy them. Before you can even think of opening a restaurant, you must identify your target customer.

You can find out more about the culinary themes that your customers could be missing by checking out local eateries. You could even overhear somebody wishing for certain things to be accessible. Perhaps they're seeking a genuine Asian dining experience over their lunch break. 

Maybe what they really want is a plant-based brunch joint. Whatever you find and decide, just be sure that your new eatery has something special that makes it different from the others.

2. Write Out Your Business Plan

It may take you a few weeks—if not months—to come up with the idea for your own restaurant. At this point, your thoughts are likely dispersed over several electronic devices, such as your phone, computer, diaries, or even stray table napkins. 

Your restaurant's business plan is the document that unites all of this information. A structured business plan is a great tool for presenting your idea to stakeholders, financial institutions, and investors. In a nutshell, it lays out the rationale, details, and implementation of your idea.

3. Legally Establish Your Business

It is necessary to formally establish your restaurant business once you have drafted a thorough company strategy. If you want to be sure everything is in order when you start up your business, it's a good idea to consult a lawyer and a tax expert. There are a lot of variables to consider, including ownership, structure, local regulations, and taxes.

In addition to assisting you in determining the best legal structure for your restaurant, these experts can also register your business name, advise you on whether or not trademarks are necessary, assist you in obtaining your EIN, and advise you on the licenses and permits required to legally open a restaurant, as well as the insurance policies you should consider purchasing.

Moreover, after obtaining an EIN for your restaurant company, it is recommended that you establish a business checking and savings account. To guarantee accurate accounting from the beginning, it is wise to use a trustworthy accountant.

4. Find the Right Location

Your restaurant's location, which is one of the most crucial aspects of its success, should be carefully selected with the help of a commercial real estate professional.

A restaurant's concept could possibly be built around a particular site when new owners take over.

It doesn't matter whether you prioritize location or concept first; what matters is that your business is near your target market's homes, places of employment, places of shopping, and recreational areas. Your closeness to consumers will still dictate the speed of takeout and delivery (as well as the quality of your cuisine), even if online orders make up the most of your revenue.

Your restaurant should be situated in a prime location, but it should also be easily visible and accessible from a major roadway. If you own a fast food joint, you may want to think about installing a drive-thru, curbside pickup, and takeout window. 

Or, with full-service models, make sure there's enough space for parking, an accessible entry, and visitors. Commercial real estate in a high-traffic region may meet several of these requirements.

5. Create Your Branding and Menu

Your brand is the impression that customers leave with when they think of your restaurant, although it is easy for ambitious owners to forget or undervalue this aspect.

You can better provide a consistent experience for your customers if you establish your brand early on.

A large majority of small company owners in the hospitality industry (89%) credit strong branding with their overall performance, with a large majority (83%) stating that branding has a substantial effect on revenue growth. 

In menu engineering, the goal is to maximize both sales and customer satisfaction via strategic menu design.

To be popular, your menu items need to be easy to understand for your customers. A point when repeat visits to your eatery become second nature. For the majority of newly opened eateries, this means providing a menu with a creative take on a classic dish.

6. Set Up Your Restaurant Equipment

It takes a lot of equipment to open a restaurant.

You may maximize your investment over time by buying restaurant-specific, industrial-grade products. Used commercial equipment with plenty of life left to it is a good option if money is limited. 

Looking around at other businesses, both online and in your local area, might help you find great deals on equipment for opening a restaurant checklist.

Back-of-house equipment

Investing in high-quality kitchen equipment will allow your staff to whip up meals faster and ensure that customers receive their orders precisely when they want them. Before you go shopping for kitchen appliances, make sure you have these back-of-the-house necessities on hand.

Front-of-house equipment

Your dining room or counter ordering area's furnishings are a great opportunity to showcase your brand. When you're shopping for front-of-house equipment, keep these things in mind.

  • Indoor and outdoor furniture
  • Light and sound
  • Walls and floors
  • Restrooms, storage, and cleaning

Restaurant tech

Opening a restaurant is the ideal moment to set up all of your technologies. Why? Because right from the start, it helps in optimizing your staff's everyday procedures. 

As an example, when a new full-service restaurant uses handhelds, the servers no longer need to spend a lot of time going to and from the tables and the point-of-sale system. And that's just one technological item.

New restaurants can save thousands of dollars in labor costs each year with properly installed integrated restaurant management software.

7. Finalize Your Menu Items and Suppliers

Now that you've tried and tweaked your items to find the sweet spot between affordability and flavor, it's time to commit to using them and design your menu.

The designer can then use the brand assets you established in step 6 to generate print menus for your visitors. 

To keep customers from being overwhelmed, make sure the menu is short and easy to peruse.

Keep menu item descriptions brief yet informative and use lots of white space.

Shop around for the most cost-effective vendors so you can get the most ingredients. Suppliers are more likely to provide discounts to restaurants that place larger orders to keep them as customers. To further support your neighborhood's economy, think about sourcing fresh foods from area farmers.

8. Train Your Team For Success

A lack of direction and inadequate training could drive new hires to quit a restaurant. To get around this, give your employees a few weeks of training before your soft opening to make sure they know what to expect from their jobs. 

If you were to go the extra mile, you should know that it is important that your front-of-house staff is knowledgeable about your standards of customer service and that your back-of-house staff is aware of your laws for food safety.

9. Build a Marketing Plan

The launch is the most essential time to bring your product in front of your target market, but maintaining their attention throughout the year is as crucial if you want to keep making money. Thus, we'll examine:

  • Website: With local SEO optimization, a menu presentation, and an explanation of your restaurant's unique narrative, your website should serve as the online headquarters for your eatery.
  • Google Business Profile: Get this set up a few months before you launch your restaurant to generate hype by informing them that you will be opening soon. Verify that all of your company details are correct, including images of your eatery, and link them to your online ordering, waitlist, and reservation system if possible.
  • Social Media Marketing: After you established your social media profiles in Step 3, the next step is to attract followers. Get in touch with your target demographic at least three months before you launch your business. In the days leading up to the event, keep them apprised of developments and offer them discounts to entice them.
  • Press Release: Send out a press statement informing local publications, television stations, and newspapers about your business and its grand launch.
  • Business Cards: Have your graphic designer make business cards for the management in your company and have them produced at a nearby business.
  • Review Management: Take use of review management tools to reply to reviews every day (not only on Yelp and TripAdvisor, but also on Google and Facebook)..
  • Email Campaigns: Collect visitor information with integrated point-of-sale marketing software and send them frequent emails, texts, and social media posts to let them know about sales and future events.
  • Loyalty Rewards: To get customers to come back, you could install customer loyalty software that lets them earn points redeemable for unique benefits.

10. Hold a Soft Opening And A Grand Opening

Initiate not one, but two grand openings for your restaurant. Before the general public, there will be a private opening for close friends and family as well as positive press. 

In addition to exhibiting a selection of dishes from your full menu, your soft opening gives your employees a chance to practice for the big day. Having upper management there allows them to see employees in action and tweak procedures before the big day.

Posters and flyers announcing your grand opening should serve as a public introduction to your eatery and its offerings. 

How Xenia Can Help

Xenia stands out as a perfect example of  efficiency in a sector where every day is filled with an overabundance of tasks and responsibilities. 

You could save time, money, and your sanity with this all-inclusive restaurant checklist software.

For food business owners, the program serves as your digital operations manager, overseeing all company processes, from scheduling employees to managing inventories, including restaurant inspection reports and workplace safety, with its opening a restaurant checklist capabilities.

It provides a broad overview of your restaurant's operations, allowing you to observe and manage chores with ease and efficiency. 

Xenia also gives you the ability to make personalized checklists that fit in with your routine, whether you're in charge of staff shift schedules, everyday cleaning schedules, or food preparation duties.

Cheers To Your Success

Even though it's not simple, opening a restaurant will be a very rewarding and emotional effort.

With a restaurant opening guide for beginners, you can build a successful business, support your family, and work in an industry where you can combine your love of food with what you do for a living.

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