There are a few popular phrases we hear when it turns out that we have a passion (and talent!) for cooking;
- “This is so good, you should start your own business!”
- “Wah, like this you can start your own restaurant lah- good money!”
As nice as opening your own restaurant and being your own boss sounds, there’s a lot more to running the show than stellar cooking skills. You will have to consider the technical and business side of things when planning a restaurant launch. Here are some of them:
Funding, Licensing & Permits:
Yes, you have the skills- but do you have the capital to back it up?
As important as providing good food is, you will need the funds to ensure that you CAN continue to operate; adequate funding is what enables you to pay for a location, source ingredients and pay your staff and vendors.
You will also need to get your permits and licensing in order to avoid being greeted with a hefty fine. Reach out to your local authorities and learn about the requirements and how to apply for the permits in question (and be prepared for several rounds of inspection before you can open your doors to the public).
Hours & Equipment:
As a restauranteur, it’s important to remember that you may not have the same freedom as someone working a 9-5 job.
Be prepared to spend most of your time working closely with your staff, reviewing customer feedback and profit-loss statements, paying vendors and planning menus.
You will need to ensure that you have the necessary tools for food prep. From having a suitable workspace to adequate cooking utensils to proper storage space, you will need to make sure you have everything needed for the kitchen to run smoothly. (And don't forget to consider what's needed for the business side of operations.)
This includes restaurant management system software to help keep track of things like inventory updates, billing, order processes and reservation bookings.
When planning your menu, you will need take current food trends into consideration. Explore what's popular and see if they can be incorporated into potential meal options- provided that the dish;
- Lines up with the concept you have in mind, and
- You have the technical know-how to prepare those dishes.
It’s also a good idea to include options, such as vegetarian or vegan meals, kid meals as well as dessert options. Be sure to plan out the prices on the menu as well- and factor in the cost of the individual ingredients when planning prices.
Location & Marketing:
You could have the best food in the world, for the most affordable prices and the cosiest ambience imaginable. None of that matters if your restaurant is practically inaccessible to potential customers.
When selecting your location, consider the following factors:
- Your restaurant should be visible- the more visible the better. After all, can you imagine walking around for hours trying to find a specific restaurant because you can't spot the entrance- especially when you're super hungry? Avoid losing out on potential business from walk-in customers by choosing the right spot to operate in.
- Accessibility is important too- particularly for customers who are older, or differently-abled. Examples of this include incorporating features such as ramps at entryways (where necessary), providing accessible restrooms and offering table service if needed or requested.
But location alone does not make the restaurant- you should also have a successful marketing plan in place.
Make use of the various social media platforms to market your business; look into city-based plans to help small business, or partner up with other local businesses to cross-promote your products- the more (positive) publicity you generate, the better!
While the restaurant industry took a hit during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the tide seems to be turning as restrictions are lifted.
People have gleefully resumed visiting their favourite restaurants, stalls and cafes, and have been equally excited to check out brand new foodie joints to explore. The culinary industry is back and ready to make a splash- and all are welcome to join in!