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Female restaurant manager working at counter

You know what would be great, if someone just showed up at your restaurant and took care of the shift scheduling, paperwork, and inventory management for you… a girl can dream, right?

Lucky for you (and the other 600,000+ restaurants out there), restaurant owners are a group of folks willing and ready to share the secrets to their success. So, we wanted to know, what are the 10 “must haves” for running a restaurant?

restaurant menu

Pre-Open: What you need to get the doors open.

First things first, let’s open this list up with some “must haves” to consider you even open the doors.

1- Concept

What sets you apart from the other 600,000 restaurants?

Finding the right location, the right chef, the right staff… that’s all important. Having the right concept, that’s the holy grail of success. Start with a concept that is unique and works in your location, and the rest will fall into place.

2- Location

Location, location, location!

When it comes to where your restaurant will be located, think about what your mama told you from day one… location, location, location! You need to find a scene that is easy to grow with, gets decent crowds, and by all means fits within your budget!

3- Menu Engineering

You’ve got 109 seconds of guest attention on your menu. Make every second count.

Your menu dictates: How you run your business, what food will be produced, what type of equipment and ingredients are needed, and which qualifications employees should have. With all that on the line, it’s important to focus on it right off the bat. Get tips on menu design here.


Operations: What you need to run your restaurant, day-to-day.

Concept: check. Location, menu: check, check. Now, here’s what you need to keep things running smoothly.

4- POS

Ah, cash money.

A POS seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised how many restaurants are frustrated with their POS. Our number 1 choice? Upserve POS – not just a point of sale, but a point of service.

5- Staff Management

The face of your restaurant, literally.

Thinking about opening a new restaurant? Congratulations!

Download our How to Start a Restaurant Guide to learn everything you need to get up and running, from writing your business plan to training your staff for success.

Download The Guide

On average, the best servers can get a 17% tip. You want the best of the best, but you need to know how to hire, train and retain them. And then, you need to have a process for scheduling their shifts in an optimal way for them and your restaurant. When it comes to shift scheduling, our favorite? ShiftNote – they literally keep your shift from hitting the fan.

6- Reservation System

Do you take reservations?

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that all anyone can talk about lately is reservations and online ordering. Before you open your doors, have a plan in place. Will you take reservations? If you do, how will you take them? The options are growing for restaurants. Check out Yelp Reservations.

7- Entertainment Value

Your guests are consistently looking for dining with a side of entertainment.

From the concept to the menu, your restaurant needs to be a place where guests want to spend their Friday night. Live music, trivia, and wine tasting events are one way to do it. But it starts with knowing your guests. If you’re looking for music, we love Rockbot.


Logistics: What you need to do to run your restaurant.

8- Inventory Controls

Regular inventory is about more than taking a count.
Without a process for taking regular inventory, your restaurant is losing money. There’s no way around it… taking inventory regularly with a proven process is a must for running your business. You can use an inventory workbook or you can take the whole process paperless with Orderly.

9- Marketing

Your doors are open, does everyone know it?

You can create the best damn restaurant out there, but until you spread the word, you’ve got nothing! Whether it’s social media or more traditional marketing mediums, consider your plan of action for pre-launch, opening day, and beyond.

10- A Way To Measure Your Success!

Have you thought about how you are going to keep all this information in one place?

Most restaurateurs would say that they don’t have enough time to manage all of these things, they feel out of control, and none of the systems they deal with — point of sale, table management, online reviews, guest lists — talk to each other.

Enter Upserve. The essential part of running a smooth operation.

We take the disorganized pile of information … your Facebook page, your POS, your reservations, your guest database, your menu, your staff … and we get it working together so your restaurant can make the moves that matter.

Check out Upserve’s guide to starting a restaurant!

See How Upserve POS Can Add to Your Restaurant!

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In a perfect world, Theresa would spend her days reading good books and writing all the time... and she'd own all the shoes her heart desired. When she's not on the hunt for shoes, you can find this Rhode Island transplant on the hunt for food that comes close to "Long Island". Her favorite? Caffe Dolce Vita in Providence's historic Federal Hill.
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