Checklist for Opening a Restaurant


If you're ready to start your own restaurant, you'll find plenty of challenges and details for follow up. A checklist helps make sure nothing slips through the cracks. During the initial planning stages you'll gather information, and it doesn't matter whether you research your market or your location first. The important thing is to make sure you research both comprehensively.

Checklist for Opening a Restaurant

This checklist includes three vital steps to help get your restaurant established and ready to open the doors.

Design and Layout Of Your Restaurant Facility

Once you've selected your location, the layout and design of your establishment will play a major role in the success of your restaurant. This includes the size and layout. As a rule of thumb, most restaurants follow the following design plan:

  • Dining room - 40-60 percent of the building's space
  • Kitchen space and prep area- around 30 percent
  • Storage space
  • Office space

The largest amount of space is designated for the dining area because this is where you'll make most of your money. As you plan your design, take the time to visit other restaurants similar to the one you hope to open. Study what works and what doesn't.

Adequately Stock Start Up Inventory

With your facility underway, the next step is to plan your inventory. You'll want to be adequately stocked. If you buy an existing business this will be a little easier because you can review sales from the previous year on which to base your calculations, but if you're opening a restaurant for the first time, you'll have to make projections based on your business plan.

How much inventory you'll need will depend on what kind of restaurant you open and how big it. For the first year, expected ranges can fall between:

  • $8,000 - $60,000 for food
  • $2,000 - $15,000 for beverages
  • $300 - $1,000 for paper products

Hiring Employees

The people you hire to work in your restaurant will define your restaurant's reputation. What staff you need will depend on the kind of restaurant you plan to open as well as its size. Personnel categories include:

  • Bartenders
  • Busboys
  • Cooks
  • Dishwashers
  • Hosts
  • Manager
  • Servers/Waitstaff

If you have a small staff some duties might cross from one job category to another. This may even hold true for a bigger establishment when it's brand new. For example if things are busy and staff is inadequate for the rush, the manager might have to take on the role of host and servers might have to bus tables. Make this clear when you're hiring. You'll want to hire people who are flexible.

Hiring a Manager

Needless to say, the person you hire as a manager can make or break your business. You'll want to hire your manager about a month before you open. This way he/she will be available to help you set up. It is wise to hire someone with previous local restaurant management experience if possible. The benefit is that they will be familiar with:

  • Local buying sources
  • Local suppliers
  • Local methods

Be sure to check references. You'll want a candidate who has proven managerial skills and who has successfully supervised restaurant personnel in the past. Needless to say, if you want quality, you'll have to be willing to pay for it. Salaries will depend on your location, but on average you can expect to pay:

  • $40,000 - $50,000 per year plus a percentage of sales for an experienced manager
  • $36,000 - $40,000 per year for an entry level manager

Another option you can use to sweeten the payroll package when you can't pay as much as you like is a profit sharing arrangement. This benefits both your manager and the restaurant because he/she will be motivated to help you build a successful enterprise.

Was this page useful?
Related & Popular
Checklist for Opening a Restaurant