Some people dream of opening restaurants, envisioning a candlelit French cafe, busy 1950s diner or cozy steakhouse. While restaurant businesses can be profitable and rewarding, it takes plenty of hard work, planning and organization to get the venture off the ground. Restaurants can take on a life of their own after opening, so researching how to organize your business before the first customers sit down helps you maneuver sensible systems into place while there’s still time to tweak plans and make small changes.
Organize your restaurant around a central theme that serves as a reference point for all elements of the business, including menu planning, pricing and advertising. Your restaurant may have a clearly defined theme, such as “health-conscious vegetarian” or “decadent desserts,” but themes can be more encompassing, such as “upscale Continental” or “sushi.” Having a firm concept of your restaurant’s theme will inform decisions about décor, uniforms, store signage and the type of soap dispensed in the bathroom.
Organize your food and drink menu long before the restaurant opens by breaking the menu down into main categories, such as appetizers, soup and salad, entrees and dessert. Additional specialty menus might include take-out menus or catering menus. Drink menus can be organized around alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages, hot drinks such as tea and coffee and house specialty drinks.
Plan your accounting practices. Despite the delicious food and drink, your restaurant is a business and you’ll need to organize reliable accounting and money management systems. Establish point-of-sale systems and determine how employees handle money after customers pay for their meals; you may prefer that tables pay at the hostess stand so that money funnels through one channel. Budgets for food and drink, utilities and rent, advertising, payroll and licensing fees will help you stay on track. Hire a professional accountant to keep things running smoothly.
Formalize maintenance routines. Restaurants don’t run themselves, so you’ll need to develop and organize maintenance routines for the business. Most restaurant employees are familiar with “side work,” which may involve sweeping the floor, sorting silverware or tidying up the bathroom after shifts. Kitchen staff may be responsible for deep-cleaning and sanitizing counters, coolers and cooking utensils. You’ll want to schedule regular maintenance visits for cleaning windows, vacuuming carpets, refinishing hardwood floors and re-upholstering booths and chairs.
Maintain a running list of required ingredients, tracking which menu items feature each ingredient to help organize food orders. If two-thirds of the items on your Italian restaurant menu feature tomatoes, you’ll know to order larger amounts of tomatoes.
Invest in accounting software to help standardize and formalize the restaurant’s money systems.
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