How To Become a Successful Restaurant Owner in 6 Steps

Do you dream of walking the floor of your own restaurant, refolding a napkin that is out of place as you smile at a happy couple? Or walking through the kitchen during service on a Friday night and feeling like your team is performing a perfectly orchestrated dance?

Opening a restaurant is tempting—who wouldn’t want to be around food all day? But becoming a restaurant owner is hard work, and owning your own business creates its fair share of new issues each and every day.

It’s a serious business, and it’s not for the weak. But if you’re up for the challenge, the next question is, how do you become a restaurant owner?

Opening a restaurant: A nine-step survival guide

The life of a restaurateur is like no other and when you do well, you do really well. So how can you ensure success? Learn how to organize the thousand moving parts to lay a strong foundation for success in our guide.

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How to Become a Restaurant Owner | Restaurant Business

What goes into owning a restaurant?

Some of the key day-to-day tasks involved with restaurant ownership include overseeing the employees who work in the restaurant, maintaining inventory, ensuring that the staff meets all food safety and health regulations, managing staffing issues and handling payroll. Some restaurant owners also interact with the diners, walking from table to table to request feedback and express appreciation for those who are eating in the restaurant.

Restaurant owners also manage the budget of the facility, assess the business’ reputation, determine areas for improvement and oversee the profitability of the restaurant. If a restaurant performs well and regularly attracts many customers, the restaurant owner may choose to open another location to accommodate even more patrons. When owning multiple locations, restaurant owners often split their time between facilities and hire managers to take on some of the daily tasks.

How to become a restaurant owner

If you have a passion for food and dining and are entertaining the dream of owning your own restaurant, review the steps below to guide you on the path to becoming a successful restaurateur.

1. Understand food and food service

Beyond understanding as much as possible about how restaurants operate, the other most important factor is food. In fact, marketing and business savvy will only go so far. What makes a successful restaurant is delicious food that is prepared and served efficiently. You may choose to attend culinary school to gain more experience in food preparation and service, or you may spend time in your own kitchen, perfecting and experimenting with different recipes.

2. Study your niche to determine your concept and cuisine

From food carts to fine dining and all the burritos, crepes, pastries and pasta in between, you should be focusing on filling a gap in the wide array of great food that is already out there. Whether you are already a talented chef looking to open your own restaurant or simply an aspiring restaurateur who appreciates a certain style of cooking, think about what personally inspires you and study the local market to understand what’s missing.

3. Create a business plan

Owning a restaurant is similar to running any other type of business in that you must evolve your concept into a business plan and prepare to adhere to the regulations and laws that apply. Business regulations vary by state, although certain federal labor and wage laws apply across the entire nation. Take some time to study the legal aspects of business ownership and how to legally operate a restaurant.

If you are opening a new restaurant, you will need to understand the permitting and legal requirements in your area or hire a consultant who can oversee the process for you. Some of the most common requirements include a local business license, a food service license, zoning approval, building permits, safety and police inspections and business name registration. If your restaurant will serve alcohol, a liquor license is another requirement.

4. Find the perfect location

Even if your restaurant is a food cart, you will still need to determine the best location for your business to succeed. Beyond the costs that come with that, you’ll have to consider things like if your restaurant will rely on getting a lot of foot traffic to attract patrons, or perhaps you picture your establishment tucked away somewhere for an off-the-beaten-path culinary experience.

5. Hire the right people

Another really important part of a great restaurant is building a good team. First and foremost, if you aren’t a chef yourself, you may need to bring one on to help you develop the menu. From there, you’ll need to form a team for the experience you aim to deliver customers: dishwashers, line cooks, prep workers, sous chefs and so forth in the kitchen, and wait staff to assist customers. Some businesses will have more of a walk-up experience and only need a cook and a cashier. Others will need additional support staff, such as hosts, sommeliers and valet-parking attendants.

Additionally, before you open, you’ll need to consider the aesthetics of your location to create a look and feel that ultimately serves the brand and attracts patrons looking for the latest in good food. This may involve hiring contractors in construction and design for assistance, or hiring a web designer who can create the virtual experience of your restaurant brand.

6. Market your brand and build a following

FAQ

Do restaurant owners make good money?

What are the skills and steps needed to become a restaurant owner?
  1. Find the right location. …
  2. Bring your concept to life. …
  3. Hire staff. …
  4. Implement a marketing plan. …
  5. Build branding that breaks the mold. …
  6. Don’t forget that a restaurant is a business.

What skills do you need to become a restaurant owner?

Payscale.com says restaurant owners make anywhere from $31,000 a year to $155,000. They also estimate that the national average is around $65,000 a year. Chron.com estimates a similar range, between $29,000 and $153,000 per year.

How hard is it to own your own restaurant?

Successful restaurant owners knows the basic principles of how to manage the operations of the kitchen. These skills include menu design and pricing, kitchen assembly line practices, and health, safety, and hygiene requirements for kitchens.

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