New to the Restaurant Business? Here's What You'll Need to Get Started
As of 2022, the USA has over 1 million restaurants and 15.1 million individuals working in this industry. Additionally, the restaurant industry employs 10% of the total workforce in the US alone, and it is anticipated that by the year 2028, 1.6 million additional jobs will be created in the restaurant industry.
With all these stats in mind, the restaurant business sounds like a lucrative one.
Undoubtedly, the restaurant is a dynamic, innovative, and fast-paced industry. However, with new chefs looking to make their restaurant dreams come true it is quite challenging to make your ventur profitable, especially in the initial years. This is all due to the incredibly fierce competition in the industry.
For this reason, new owners must thoughtfully consider all factors contributing to the success or failure of opening a restaurant. Not sure what these factors are? That’s where we come in.
If you’re going to get into any industry, you need to do your homework. Before looking at what you’ll need to open a restaurant, here’s a bit about the history of the restaurant industry.
A Brief History of the Restaurant Industry
From the ancient 'thermopolia' through the medieval taverns and inns that offered food and shelter to travelers, a long line of establishments paved the way for the restaurant industry as we know it today. It wasn't until the late 18th century, just on the cusp of the French Revolution, that the first modern restaurants opened their doors, where customers could walk in to pick meals from a menu.
The 19th century was a time of extraordinary expansion for the United States, notably in terms of transportation modes. Since individuals could now travel greater distances with more convenience, there was a corresponding rise in the demand for eateries. In the beginning, Americans started emulating their French counterparts since they were seen as the pinnacle of elegance and delicacy. However, they still emphasized locally available ingredients, such as Northwestern oysters.
Chinese, Italian, Greek, and other immigrant groups brought their cuisine to the US and adapted it to suit the general public's tastes, which was a natural progression for a country with individuals always seeking new opportunities. When the 20th century arrived, the restaurant business started to mirror the lives of US citizens solely. It became more difficult for individuals to take time out to sit down for a meal, which contributed to the proliferation of fast food restaurants like McDonald's.
Modern restaurants may refer to a broad range of dining facilities, from high-end artisan restaurants to food chains and franchises with multiple locations. On one end of the range, you have devoted chefs with the skills and expertise necessary to pay special attention to the quality of the ingredients and the advanced procedures used in the preparation. On the other end of the spectrum are chains like McDonald's and Burger King that prefer dealing with pre-made food items.
Restaurants did not always have the same atmospheres that they do now. In fact, the history of the restaurant industry demonstrates a great deal of evolution. Next time when customers visit your establishment, make an effort to introduce them to what restaurants used to be like decades or centuries ago—this will help them appreciate the variety of alternatives available even more.
Beginner’s Guide for New Restaurant Business Owners
No matter where you come from or how much experience you have, nothing can fully prepare you for the launch of your very own restaurant. On top of that, it doesn't matter how much research you do; there are certain aspects of running a restaurant that you can only learn from experience. However, the tips mentioned below might help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls.
Step 1: Define and Choose a Restaurant Niche
There is a diverse selection of dining establishments located worldwide, and maintaining the immaculate operation of each requires a broad range of specialized skills. Start by looking around your side of the world; what food requirements have not yet been met? Which of these three options—opening a food truck, a catering business, or a restaurant—would serve your target audience most effectively? Once you have a niche in mind, move on to the next step: a business plan.
Step 2: Create a Specialized Business Plan
In the same way that recipes provide instructions on how to prepare a delicious dish, the business plan serves as the recipe to ensure the restaurant's success. Writing a business plan is ultimately about thinking through and answering some important questions—broken down into three categories. These are:
- The market you serve
- The viability of the overall plan
- The challenges you will face
This method, when carried out correctly, will assist you in refining and defining the subsequent stages required in launching the restaurant.
Step 3: Apply for Licenses and Permits
When it comes to licenses and permits, the entire process revolves around two Ps: paperwork and patience. Note that the fees associated with acquiring each will vary according to the restaurant's concept and the city and state. A few licenses are necessary for any restaurant, such as business licenses, while others are contingent on the type of restaurant you run (i.e., liquor licenses). The following are some additional licenses and permits that you will probably need:
- Sales Tax License
- Certificate of Occupancy
- Signage/Sign Permit
- Food Service License
- Food Handler’s Permit
- Building Health Permit
- Dumpster Placement Permit
- Valet Parking Permit
- Employee Identification Number
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishes an updated version of the Food Code every four years. Nevertheless, the specifics of what is needed, highly suggested, and merely optional differ from one state to the next. You can read the 600+ pages published by the FDA, but we suggest hiring any agency regulating Food Service Codes to ensure that all of your bases are covered.
Step 4: Plan and Create a Memorable Menu
Collaborate with the restaurant's head chef and bar manager to generate ideas for food and beverage programs. You might take many paths depending on the kind of restaurant you want to operate. For instance, if you offer barbecue, consider how you can differentiate your ribs from those of another local BBQ cuisine. Next, you'll need to price your menu. At this point, the cost of food, sales forecast, inventory, profit margins, and other relevant restaurant metrics come into play.
Always remember that the menu is the centerpiece of any restaurant and should always reflect the brand's identity. Additionally, it also serves as a marketing tool to encourage new customers to give your food a try. The selection of dishes, determining prices, designing the menu, and organizing the items are just a few of the many aspects of creating a one-of-a-kind and unforgettable dining experience. It all comes down to investing in the right technology and equipment.
Step 5: Invest in High-Quality Equipment and Supplies
When it comes to commercial restaurant equipment and supplies, it can either make or break the establishment. According to a study conducted by the National Restaurant Association, the most important factor in determining the amount of money saved is the efficiency of the equipment used. Nevertheless, you must exercise extreme caution while selecting the most suitable option according to your pre-designed menu. Here are some essential equipment and supplies to consider:
"Smallwares," also known as serviceware, refers to a wide range of commercial equipment and supplies, including those used in the restaurant kitchen (such as utensils and cookware), that are small in size. When launching a restaurant business, many individuals first consider selecting new appliances; however, smallwares should never be put on the back burner. With the right smallwares in place, you can ensure the operations of your newly launched restaurant running smoothly.
- Kitchen Utensils
- Kitchen Knives
- Steam Tableware
- Food Storage
- Ice Cream Supplies
- Food and Employee Safety Products
- Coffee Service
- Restaurant Signs
- Chef Wear
When it comes to starting a restaurant business, even the smallest detail matters. Generally, the brand's idea and purpose are all communicated via the cuisine, the design of the space, furnishings, and workers. Dinnerware, also known as tableware, is one of the essential components that will bring the presentation of your dish to life. Check out TigerChef for a terrific selection of restaurant dinnerware from vetted brands.
- Restaurant Flatware
- Melamine Dinnerware
- China Dinnerware
- Plastic Dinnerware
- Wooden Dinnerware
- Glass Dinnerware
As the name suggests, tabletops are the supplies placed on top of the restaurant table. Any business that deals in food must place a significant emphasis on selecting appropriate tabletop supplies. This is because customers will be using these items from the get-go, so it pays to make a good first impression. The tabletop at your restaurant is where customers first encounter the essence of the quality cuisine and drinks you provide. At TigerChef, we have a comprehensive selection of tabletop supplies that are sure to wow your patrons.
- Tabletop Serveware
- Tabletop Accessories
- Condiment Holders
- Beverage Service
- Server Supplies
- Kitchen Knives
- Food Preparation Tools
- Seafood Preparation
- French Fry Cutters
- Commercial Slicers
- Meat Processing Equipment
- Restaurant Scales
- Commercial Mixers
- Commercial Blenders
- Commercial Immersion Blenders
Every restaurant owner is required to satisfy several capabilities associated with the hospitality business, and one of the most crucial aspects to consider is the availability of commercial restaurant equipment. In the restaurant business, having the right equipment is essential to running a successful establishment. This covers prepared foods and ingredients, as well as the machinery used. Invest in the following commercial restaurant equipment list to start your business on the right foot.
- Cooking Equipment
- Food Warming and Holding Equipment
- Countertop Cooking
- Commercial Refrigeration
- Dishwashing Equipment
- Commercial Sinks and Faucets
- Commercial Ice Machines
- Beverage Equipment
- Work Tables
Restaurants are among the most challenging businesses to operate. Considering that the entire business revolves around food and food-related items, cleanliness and hygiene have the utmost importance here. Don't let yourself be caught unprepared; instead, make sure you have janitorial supplies on hand. By preserving a clean and healthy environment, you may steer clear of unnecessary "negative marks" and keep your doors open throughout the year.
- Cleaning Supplies
- Restroom Supplies
- Restaurant Maintenance and Supplies
- Floor Maintenance
- Commercial Trash Cans
- Kitchen Floor Mats
- Janitorial Carts
When it comes to the commercial kitchen, it is important to ensure that things are stored correctly. Not only do the appropriate supplies guarantee that your facility will continue to comply with regulations, but they also make things simpler for your workers. In the end, the appropriate storage supplies can help you reduce the time spent in the kitchen and improve the quality of service you provide to your customers. Here’s a list of commercial storage supplies to help you get started.
- Bussing Supplies
- Food Service Carts
- Storage Racks
- Restaurant Shelving
- Transport Carts and Dollies
- Storage Equipment
- Food Packaging Supplies
Food and Beverages
Sharing a delicious meal is what draws people together. Whether individuals are looking to check out the newest restaurant in town or prefer to go out to their favorite café Downtown, the food and beverage culture throughout the world is more prevalent than ever.
Therefore, when stocking up commercial equipment and supplies for your newly established restaurant property, it is essential to maintain a sufficient inventory of food and beverage supplies, including:
- Gum and Candy
- Water and Beverages
- Condiments and Sauces
- Coffee, Tea & Hot Cocoa
- Pet Food and Pet Care Products
- Sugar, Creamer, and Sugar Substitutes
If we talk about pre-pandemic conditions, ceramic plates, stainless steel cutlery, glasses, and cloth napkins were an industry norm. Disposable packaging became the only alternative available when restaurants across the United States frantically shifted their focus to takeaway service. But even today, the tableware is still anchored by disposable items. Even better, these items are great for catered events to present appetizers and cocktails. Some of the essentials include:
- Disposable Take-Out Containers and Supplies
- Disposable Plates
- Disposable Bar Supplies
- Disposable Utensils
- Disposable Catering Trays
- Party Supplies
- Disposable Bowls
- Disposable Mini Dishes
- Disposable Glassware
In any hospitality workspace, each piece of equipment is specialized to carry out a certain function. Therefore, it is necessary for any establishment, regardless of its size, to have access to equipment and supplies that will make it possible to perform tasks smoothly and efficiently.
With so many commercial supplies to choose from, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Don't worry; just follow the comprehensive list above, and you're good to go.
The Final Cut
Despite the initial paperwork and documentation and investing in equipment, owning a restaurant may be one of the most satisfying experiences in life. If launching a restaurant has been one of your lifelong dreams, or if you are already in the process of opening your very first restaurant from the ground up, know that running it successfully is a humongous task. However, with a beginner’s guide like this for reference, you’ll be able to go far.
Commercial Equipment and Supplies at TigerChef
Each restaurant’s common pitfalls may not be the same. However, if food is your passion, the steps outlined here might serve as an excellent starting point for turning your dream into a reality. As discussed earlier, the equipment and supplies are the centerpieces of any restaurant; if you haven't stocked up on this must-have utility, have a look at TigerChef’s website —the #1 shop for restaurant supplies online. TigerChef carries all you need to get the job done with speed and professionalism.