restaurant owners chatting

To become a restaurant owner takes talent, huevos, and the ability to take pleasure in 60-120 hour work weeks. And it’s one industry where experience trumps education. The best restaurant owner training is to work in all areas of the restaurant business over several years. It’s the only way to know when a staff member is misinforming you, how to motivate and guide others, and how to train new staff members effectively.

You should know how to cook, how to seat customers, tend bar, serve food, clear tables, wash dishes—everything. And that’s before you even consider starting a restaurant!

What are the steps and skills needed to become a restaurant owner?

Start here.

Step 1: Finalize the Concept and Write a Business Plan

Fast casual, fine dining, or a food truck? Seafood, steakhouse, or ethnic? Do your homework to figure out the size of the potential market for your passion. Take part-time business and accounting courses to get the skills for creating an effective business plan and budget.

Step 2: Find the Right Location

A good location can ensure a mediocre restaurant is consistently busy, or ensure an otherwise great restaurant fails. The tradeoff is frequently between a busy location with plenty of parking, or a less convenient but more picturesque spot. Some argue that areas packed with other restaurants can divert money and customers from your business, but such clustering can also draw more patrons to the area.

Step 3: Get Financing

Starting a restaurant can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars—but it doesn’t have to. How much you need depends on your concept, the space you want, the equipment you need, whether you buy new or used, your inventory, marketing, and operating capital. Audit your own assets; hit up family and friends; investigate taking a partner and any government programs you may be eligible for.

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

Step 4: Complete the Restaurant Design

A great restaurant design is inviting and relaxing for patrons, but highly functional for staff: easy to clean with space for kitchen staff to move around quickly. You’ll need to deal with architects, interior designers, engineers, and contractors to ensure your vision is fully realized.

A good location can ensure a mediocre restaurant is consistently busy.

Step 5: Hire Staff

Begin your employee search roughly six to twelve weeks before opening to ensure you have enough lead time. If you’re not a chef, your first hire should be your executive chef. Give them broad latitude to design the menu with their restaurant menu ideas, too.

Step 6: Start Marketing

Just like a business plan, you need a marketing plan. If you want people to turn up on opening night, they need to have heard of you. Write and disseminate a press release, make sure your website and social media is professional, and consider a soft open—National Restaurant Association research shows word-of-mouth is still the best advertising.

Check out Upserve’s Guide to Starting a Restaurant!

Written by   |  
Mitchell Hall is a writer and editor living in Boston, MA. Originally from New Zealand, growing up he spent nearly ten years greedily imbibing the spirit of hospitality as a kitchenhand, waiter, and barman.