Start Up: How Far Ahead of Time Should You Plan a Restaurant Opening?

Sometimes when you go to a restaurant, you might think it’s pretty simple to do it yourself. Just pick an empty location, fill out the necessary paperwork, teach one or two people how you cook, and have people come in from day one. But almost nobody ever told you that opening a restaurant was going to be simple and easy. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to spend six months to a year planning before you finally open the doors to your restaurant place. Don’t be overwhelmed, this Frog is here to help you out.

The first step is to prepare a business plan, which will probably take the most time-anywhere from two or more months. This means getting a budget, finding out what kind of restaurant to buy, and creating your operations infrastructure so you have a sound business plan. While you’re probably asking when will the food part come in, this planning is only just the beginning. This is probably also a good time to find space to rent your restaurant. It took One Fat Frog a good amount of time to find our perfect location. Make sure you allot enough time for this process.

The next step is to, after getting your plan and finding your restaurant space, it’s time to get the logistics for your physical restaurant space. This will probably take a month or two. Whether you’re making sure everything’s up to code, or that everything’s designed to your liking, you’re starting to have an idea of your restaurant coming true. Unless you (and your partner) are opening this on your own, this might be a good time to find management.

What’s the third step? Setting up your financial commitments. This means opening your business bank accounts, setting up utilities, and finalizing your physical restaurant space. This might take anywhere from a month or two. At the same time, this is also a good opportunity to go over with your recently-hired management and make sure everything’s up to task.  This is also a good time to making sure your menu’s all good to go. Depending on your schedule, you’re either half-way there or you got most of the boring stuff out of the way before you get to the food stuff.

As your date for your restaurant gets closer and closer, you’ll also have to think about restaurant equipment. Naturally, this is where we at One Fat Frog come in. In our case, we’ll help you get started on acquiring pretty much all restaurant equipment you’ll need to open a restaurant. Or, if you’re browsing around, just getting an oven or two. Other than the physical space, restaurant equipment is probably one of the most crucial investments in your restaurant. You don’t want to close your place early just because one of the griddles doesn’t work properly.

When you’re going in to the final couple months, it’s time to register your business so it’s all official. Then you’re done with that, then you can (finally) focus on employment and inventory. By this approximate timeframe, your restaurant technically looks like it’s open to ready to go. But there’s still a couple more steps to go.

And one of the next couple steps? Advertising and training. Most businesses will take the time to open their own website and getting their own social media ready (Facebook and Twitter, along with Foursquare and Yelp. Also OpenTable if your restaurant does reservations). And the last few weeks will be a good opportunity to train your employees anything from daily operations to cooking. But then you’re thinking, “Well we might as well open tomorrow!” But if you’re doing that, take a week to do one more step.

And that step is to: Review. While your staff and management are busy getting ready, you the restaurant owner should take a week and review everything you did in the last six months to a year are done and ready to go. Double-checking, triple-checking, and perhaps even quadruple-checking everything is ready in order before you’re ready to go. Depending on your restaurant’s size, it may be a few things or it may be pages. Nevertheless, making sure everything is perfect and sound before opening is crucial.

However there’s one more thing you got to do before you open: celebrate. You spent all this time to making sure your next restaurant will satisfy everyone. You (and your partners) might as well take the time and congratulate yourself (or yourselves) for putting all this effort and hoping that in the next day, your restaurant can finally be open.