Over 660,000 restaurants were operating in the United States as of 2021, with over 11 million employees. This figure gives an idea that the restaurant business is booming in the U.S. As an intending restauranter, this is a market you can play in and make money.
In this guide, we walk you through the process of starting a thriving restaurant business in America.
The American Restaurant Industry by the Numbers
The statistics of the restaurant industry in the U.S. are as follows:
- According to Restaurant.org, restaurants operating in the United States make up to 10% of the workforce.
- An average American orders up to $3,000 worth of food online per year.
- Up to 50% of the American population order food online.
Steps to Starting a Restaurant Business in the United States
With these statistics, you now understand how profitable it can be to start a business in the country. These are guidelines for starting the business:
1. What are the Relevant Qualifications?
As an intending restauranter, what are the qualifications expected of you to start a restaurant business in the United States?
First, you may need to get a culinary degree from a recognized institution. Having a degree in hospitality management also comes in handy to prove your mastery in handling a business that sees to taking care of people.
Second and most important, you have to find out the applicable laws on starting the business. For example, are you permitted to start a restaurant business in America if you are a foreigner? According to Malescu Law, a foreigner can open a restaurant in the country, but complying with the international laws relating to business transactions by foreigners is very important.
2. Define a Restaurant Concept
What concept are you adopting for your restaurant business? This is the fun part and it requires your creativity to pull it off.
Here are the factors worth considering:
Design of the Restaurant
What design best fits into your restaurant model? Is it going to be a dine-in restaurant or are you going to focus on making deliveries?
The interior or decoration of your restaurant should also align with the concept or branding you have selected for your restaurant.
The brand identity of your restaurant is also another important concept to consider. Here, you want to be particular about the:
- Brand Name: It should be short, easy to remember, and communicate the objective of the business.
- Brand Identity: This includes the logo, typography, and branding of the business’s merchandise.
- Menu Design
3. Get the Targeting Right
The target market is also important and should be considered in the early stages of starting your restaurant business.
The factors to look into when choosing the target market are:
- Market Segmentation: It is pertinent to define the market segment you want to serve. Ideally, you don’t want to offer your services to a location where many other restaurants are already existing. Also, avoid offering the same menu, especially if it has been offered by the other restaurants. Rather, come up with a pivoted concept to make your menu different from your competitors.
- Choose a Location with Corresponding Demographics: The demographic of your target location should align with the market you are looking to operate in. This includes making sure that your menu offers meals that your target market likes, their income can be able to allow them to afford your meals and they are in the ideal age bracket.
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4. Write Your Restaurant Business Plan
A business plan is not limited to startups or businesses looking to gain traction in the shortest time possible. Your restaurant also needs to have a business plan.
These are the content to add to your restaurant business plan:
This is where you write detailed information about your restaurant brand.
As the name suggests, it is a summarized version of your restaurant business. It should cover the most important aspects of your business.
In this section, you talk about your competitors, the existing solutions they offer, and how your restaurant brand can offer something better.
5. Choose a Location
The location of the restaurant can either make or mar its success because this is in proximity to the target market. The ideal location is near or close to the customers, not saturated with other restaurants, and accessible.
Other factors to consider here are:
- The cost of living as helps you to determine the best salary range for your employees.
- Availability of parking spaces, especially if you are offering dine-in services.
- The rush hours.
6. Obtain the Necessary Permits and Licenses
Apply for the relevant licenses and permits to operate a restaurant business in your target location. Also, find out your tax options and any other fees your new restaurant business will be required to pay.
7. Design the Kitchen Layout
Start designing the layout for your kitchen. Here are tips to help you:
- Furniture: How many persons or diners do you expect to dine at your restaurant? The dining room furniture should be comfy and able to accommodate a large number of diners.
- Food Preparation: The kitchen should be spacious and have shelves where the necessary cooking tools can be easily gotten.
- Décor: The décor of the restaurant should not only be in line with your brand identity but also have improved ambiance with lighting.
8. Partner with a Food Supplier
Get in touch with a reliable food supplier to supply your restaurant with food items when they are needed.
You also need to get in touch with an equipment supplier to help you get the right tools for your new restaurant business.
9. Hire Your Staff
Start hiring the staff or employees to work at your restaurant. On the list of employees to hire are:
- Kitchen Staff, including dishwashers, chefs, and prep cooks.
- Bar Staff, including cocktail servers and bartenders.
- Management Team, including general manager.
- Wait Staff, including waiters and waitresses.
10. Open Your Restaurant for Business
With every other thing in place, you can now open your restaurant for business. Focus on offering exceptional service and if you can, offer discounts on the launch date. This should form part of the pre-marketing strategies that will attract more customers.
Starting a restaurant business in the United States takes time and you need to make lots of research to get it right. Also, make a great first impression (on launch day) and be strategic with marketing to trigger the growth of your restaurant over time.