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Have you always dreamed of opening a restaurant one day and the reality is becoming more feasible? That’s great news! It’s a very exciting time and we are here to let you know that with proper preparation and knowledge, opening a restaurant can be an extremely rewarding and of course a profitable experience.

Define a Concept and Menu

One of the first steps when opening a restaurant is developing the idea or theme that will define your restaurant. A concept defines style, ambiance, cuisine, service type, menu options and pricing. 

Examples: Casual dining, Fine dining, Bar / Restaurant, Ethnic Cuisine, Café, Fast Casual or try something totally new!

Developing a menu with pricing options that is consistent with your concept is also very important. It should come together as a well-developed cohesive concept, which will not only set guest expectations, but enhance their experience.

Market Research

Location, Location, Location! We’re sure you’ve heard this many times and it can play a major part of your restaurant’s success. First, think about the area where you want to open. Make sure that you scope it out and look into the following:

  • Are there other restaurants in the area with a similar concept?
  • Do they keep busy?
  • What type of restaurants are in the area?
  • Are there any restaurants that have recently closed permanently? Why?
  • What is the parking situation?
  • Will there be a lot of foot traffic?
  • What is the demographic of the area, and will they be receptive to my concept?

Now that you’ve answered these questions, and made the decision to move forward, find an experienced Real Estate Agent that is not only familiar with the area, but experienced in commercial restaurant space. An experienced agent will be better at understanding your vision and finding you a space that works and can be an integral part of lease negotiations.


According to restaurantowner.com [Source] the average startup cost to open a restaurant is $375,500, $175,500 on the low-end, and $750,500 on the high-end.1 There are many factors that play a large part in these numbers like your restaurant concept, location, construction, equipment and technology investment and hiring.

Time to get to the drawing board to understand the startup costs you’ll need to open. Include costs like lease space, equipment (purchased new or used), technology required, construction, permits, licenses, inventory, initial hiring, initial marketing / advertising and operating costs you’ll incur until you start generating a profit.

Having a solid understanding of your estimated startup costs is extremely important, whether you plan on using your own investment, finding an investor, applying for a bank loan and / or applying for a government program.

Permits and Licenses

This is probably the least “fun” in the opening process, but a necessity if you don’t want to incur large fines. The top 11 general permits and licenses needed are:

  1. Business License
  2. Employee Identification Number
  3. Certificate of Occupancy
  4. Liquor License
  5. Food Service License
  6. Food Handler’s Permit
  7. Music License
  8. Resale Permit
  9. Building Health Permit
  10. Sign Permit
  11. Any applicable construction permits

Permits and licenses vary by city, county, state, so check with your local government for what is required in your area.

Equipment and Technology

Planning the equipment you’ll need will depend on the type and size of restaurant you are opening. In general, the basic list of equipment includes storage containers, serving ware, cooking equipment, appliances, storage racks and shelving, freezer and refrigeration, safety equipment, food prep counters, ovens, grill, ranges and ventilation, sinks, and dishwashers. 

When deciding on the equipment necessary, see what you can purchase used over new. You’ll be surprised at what you can find in good condition at a lower cost without having to sacrifice quality.

Don’t forget about the technology in your start up plans! You will only benefit from implementing the right technology at the beginning. From your point of sale system, to phones and internet, let technology work for you. Technology assists restaurants run their operations seamlessly. Check out a list of technology solutions provided by Cervion Systems that can help your restaurant be successful.

Hiring the Team

Time to consider your hiring needs for operating your restaurant. The roles and number of staff you will need to hire will depend on the type and size of your restaurant. When hiring for these roles, look for candidates with experience, efficient and quick, and works well within a team environment. 

FOH Roles:

  • Manager(s)
  • Servers
  • Bartenders
  • Hosts
  • Food Runners
  • Bussers

BOH Roles:

  • Executive Chef
  • Sous Chef
  • Prep Cooks
  • Dishwashers

Marketing Strategy

Don’t forget to put together a marketing strategy to let people know you’re open for business! With a few basic marketing tactics, you’ll see increased foot traffic and repeat business.

  1. Build an Attractive, Modern Website

    Give people a reason to continuously visit your website; include Online Ordering. Keep your site up to date by always adding new information and images.

  2. Have a Customer Rewards or Loyalty Program

    Give guests a reason to come back with a rewards or loyalty program.

  3. Create Social Media Profiles

    Create Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and Twitter pages, stay active and post about upcoming events, new menu items, staff highlights, and promotions.

  4. Maintain a Google My Business Profile

    Create and maintain a Google My Business profile. This will improve SEO and allow customers to find you easier.

  5. Start Building Your Email List

    Set up automatic email campaigns for customer birthdays, anniversaries, and specials.

  6. Advertise Promotions

    Get people in the door by offering promotions for first time guests.

  7. Host Events

    Host and advertise your grand opening event so people know you’re officially open. Host special brunches and menu offerings for holidays like New Years, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Communicate them on your website, social media and email list.

Business Plan

A business plan is your map on how you open and operate your restaurant. Writing a business plan might seem like an overwhelming task, however if you followed along and created your opening plan, you’re almost there! It’s time to make it official and write it out. Not only will a business plan help you stay on track and hit your goals, it is necessary when looking for funding from investors and banks.
Business Plan Includes:

  1. Executive Summary

    A overview of your business plan and the information included in the business plan. 

  2. Restaurant Description

    Detailed restaurant concept with sample menu.

  3. Customer Demographics

    Portrayal of who your primary customers will be.

  4. Market Analysis

    Analysis of your surrounding competition, the purpose of your restaurant and why it will succeed.

  5. Business Operations

    Detailed description of operating business hours, employee roles, management and ownership and service type.

  6. Financials

    Comprehensive report of estimated start up and operating costs, along with a plan to raise funds.

  7. Marketing and Advertising Strategy

    Detailed plan for Marketing and Advertising, which will let guests know you are open for business!

The planning and execution of opening a restaurant can seem overwhelming, but don’t let that get in your way! Work on each piece a little at a time and soon enough your plan with cohesively come together and you’ll have the information and confidence you need to open your restaurant. We wish you the best of luck in your endeavors, we know you can do it!


Cervion Systems is a Point of Sale provider with offices in New York, Pennsylvania and South Florida. Founded in 1996, with over 20 years of professional POS service experience, Cervion is the leading VAR (value added reseller) offering restaurant Point of Sale. Cervion provides restaurants and bars with local sales and service, modern Apple iPad point of sale systems and affordable programs for new and existing restaurants. Please contact Cervion Systems at 877.476.7246 or sales@cervion.com.


  1. Restaurantowner.com “How Much Does it Cost to Open a Restaurant?” https://www.restaurantowner.com/public/Survey-How-Much-Does-it-Cost-to-Open-a-Restaurant.cfm


Cervion Systems

Written by Cervion Systems

We're a partner in the success of your business. Cervion Systems provides restaurant technology solutions that help your business increase profits and improve your success. Cervion offers a full range of technology products and support services, from point-of-sale systems to integrated merchant processing solutions. We allow you and your employees to concentrate on the day-to-day operations, while we handle your technology systems. Our award-winning staff has helped our customers succeed for nearly 20 years!

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