How to Start a Small Restaurant - MBB Management

How to Start a Small Restaurant


There’s nothing small about putting up a small restaurant. You may be looking at a conservative startup with a limited budget, but the amount of planning and preparation needed to pull it off may overwhelm you.

If you’re eager to start a new food business at a small scale, let the following strategies lead you to succeed in your small restaurant venture.

Here are 8 Tips to consider on how to start a small restaurant business.

1. Decide on the kind of restaurant that you will run.

Before going into the technical aspects of putting up a restaurant startup, make sure that you know which kind of restaurant you want to have. You can go about a variety of ways in determining this, by answering questions such as:

  • What kind of food are you passionate about?
  • Do you want a casual diner or a luxury restaurant?
  • Will you be offering food delivery options?
  • How “small” is your small restaurant?

By answering these questions, you can get a glimpse of the restaurant that you like to start. If you have difficulty in choosing the best kind of food establishment to venture into, check out our list of unique small restaurant ideas to point you towards the right direction.

2. Look for the perfect location.

You probably like your future restaurant to be packed with patrons, right? Unfortunately, that won’t happen if people find it hard to locate or visit your dining establishment.

Any restaurant consulting expert will tell you that location is one of the primary factors that determine the success of your business.

When looking for a good location, make sure to choose a space with the following features:

  • Accessibility: Your restaurant will definitely benefit from easy access, because people will naturally gravitate towards places that they can reach.
  • High foot traffic: Consider locations with a huge spending population and capacity.
  • Parking availability: A lot of restaurants are lined up with customers when they know that parking spaces are available.

3. Choose a particular concept and target market.

This technique is somehow related to selecting the kind of restaurant business that you want (strategy #1). In other words, you need to decide on your restaurant’s concept and the specific part of the population that you want to attract.

Avoid being a one-stop food destination that serves a mishmash of local and international cuisines. Aside from stressing out your kitchen staff, this will also dilute your restaurant’s branding.

In terms of target market, determine who you want to visit your restaurant often. Young adults or elderly patrons? Solo diners or families? Casual fast food fans or fine-dining professionals? By knowing this, you can create more focused strategies for your menu, operations, and marketing.

4. Take care of financial and legal requirements.

Your restaurant investment will never prosper without funding and sound financial management. Figure out your startup capital and build your restaurant within budget. Avoid taking out a loan when you’re starting out.

Best of all, create a business plan. This allows you to visualize the financial realities of your small restaurant to cover operational requirements, marketing expenses, and other considerations.

Any brick-and-mortar business will have to abide by local zoning laws. This involves requesting for business permits, conforming to health and food safety regulations, and buying insurance for your business and your workers.

5. Come up with the right floor plan.

Restaurant management may sound easy when we’re talking about a small business, but don’t make the mistake of disregarding seemingly minute details such as table layout. Remember that your restaurant’s dining area will make the first impression, and so you need to come up with an efficient seating and storage layout.

A good floor plan for your restaurant should include the following:

  • The kitchen area should comprise roughly 40 percent of the entire business space.
  • Restrooms should be available and accessible, but not directly exposed to the dining area.
  • Dining tables need to be spaced at least 3 feet from each other, while chairs should have at least 1.5 feet in between.

In addition, you should refer to this guide for small businesses in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

6. Scout for cost-friendly suppliers.

When planning on how to start a small restaurant, you should be on board in terms of the supplies needed to keep your business running. This involves listing down ingredients required for your menu, kitchen appliances and cookware, dining implements, seating and tables, and consumables like straws and paper towels.

Once you’ve determined your supply needs, it’s time to look for suppliers. Choose individuals or companies that can not only commit to your demand but also offer the supplies at competitive rates. Bottom line, it’s going to involve a balance between cost, quality, and availability.

7. Invest on effective marketing techniques.

Make your restaurant’s presence felt by launching a good marketing plan. Let your future customers know what you’re offering and give them enough reasons to continue coming back.

What’s great about marketing these days is that you can do everything online, through websites, ad banners, and social media. One of the best ways to attract customers is by offering freebies and discount vouchers.

8. Do a test run.

The best way to check if everything is in order is through a small-scale test. Invite family and friends to a small gathering to test-drive your small restaurant and ask them for honest feedback.

Another good technique is to do a soft opening or soft launch. This allows you to test your restaurant operations while at the same time assessing the kind and number of customers that you’re attracting. Make sure to offer special discounts during the introductory launch.

No matter the size, setting up a new restaurant business may sound daunting. Don’t worry, because we at MBB Management are willing and able to help you out! If you need additional advice on how to start a small restaurant, contact us today so that we can set up a meeting and discuss your needs.

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