If you are considering opening a restaurant now, chances are you've been waiting for the right opportunity for the past year. Many people had to put their business plans on hold during the pandemic, and potential restaurateurs had it harder than most. Restaurants had their doors shut at the start of the pandemic and limits on alcohol sales and curfews made it difficult for them to survive, let alone thrive during the pandemic. Now with vaccines being rolled out across the globe, it is time to restart our economies and our businesses. The good news is that the playing field is much more level now than it was before the pandemic so it’s not a bad idea trying to get your new restaurant opened in the next few weeks. The uncertain environment into which we are emerging, though, makes it more important than ever that your restaurant sees quick success.
For this reason, it is crucial that you don’t make the same errors that tank thousands of new restaurants. Here are the most common mistakes you need to avoid.
I get it. Money is tighter than ever and your dream is to serve great food rather than creating a design oasis. Prioritizing menu design and the perfect staff makes plenty of sense. However, with restaurants pushing hard to compete in a difficult environment, you need to stand out. Food is a large part of that but the food, no matter how good it is, is never the first thing a person sees when entering a restaurant for the first time.
Cheap interior design can be off-putting, as it gets dirty quickly and can start looking worn before long. Furnish your restaurant with chic pieces that complement your restaurant’s theme. They don’t have to be expensive but do not choose them for their low price point. No one wants to sit in a restaurant that looks shabby in a post-COVID world.
The unfortunate reality is that if you are relying on your restaurant to make immediate profits in order to survive, you are going to get a rude awakening. In these uncertain times, many new restaurateurs are working with limited capital or high-interest loans. But most restaurants take between three to five years to start turning a profit.
If you can adjust your business plan to work according to this expectation, you will be able to succeed. If you simply have no choice but to start turning a profit in the immediate future, you may want to rethink your ambitions.
There are many individuals out there who dream of owning a restaurant but cannot quit their jobs to make it happen. Instead, they try to start a restaurant as a side-hustle, thinking that they can hire the right people and work nights and weekends to manage their new business.
Unfortunately, starting a restaurant is often more time-intensive than any full-time job. There are so many variables to consider, and there is no guaranteed route to success. You need to work hard to adapt at any moment, and your full attention needs to be available. The idea that you can wait to quit your job until you can rely on income from your restaurant is little more than a pipe dream.
One of the most common mistakes new restaurants make is trying to cater to all different tastes. The impulse is to ensure that anyone who is hungry can find something on the menu, no matter what their dietary requirements or preferences.
However, there are too many fast food outlets that offer lowest common denominator options better than you could hope to. Going niche is a far better strategy. Find a theme and stick to it. It won’t suit everyone who walks past your restaurant, but it is more likely to draw in those who will enjoy your food than any joint that lacks an identity.