Many people dream of one day opening a restaurant, but few make it to this point. Making a plan and taking steps towards accomplishing your goals can be difficult, but it’s the only way to achieve this dream. You must do the research and put in the time it takes to open a successful restaurant. Whether you plan to be the chef or hire a chef and be the general operating manager, you need to put yourself out there to make it in this business.

Here are five things to do before opening your restaurant:

1. Choose a theme


You need to choose a theme or niche for your restaurant that will differentiate you from your competition and provide an edge for marketing. Your theme should encompass every aspect of your restaurant, including the menu, decorations, uniforms, and overall customer experience. Themed restaurants may seem over the top and require a high level of detail, but a clear theme is an ideal way to differentiate yourself and acts as a guiding light for all other parts of the planning. Your theme can be based around a type of food like Cajun, French, or Italian. Or, the theme can be based on an idea or concepts like rock and roll or southern hospitality.

2. Choose the menu


Based on your theme and the vision you have for your restaurant, you need to choose the items that will be featured on your menu. The menu will likely include appetizers or starters, sides, main food items, drinks, and desserts. The menu is going to be highly unique to you and will directly impact the overall success of your restaurant.

3. Order equipment and supplies


When choosing food items for your restaurant, you will need to take into consideration the necessary equipment to cook what you wish to serve. You can check the GoFoodservice website to get estimates on the commercial kitchen equipment you are considering. Equipment costs will need to be factored in for your overall budgeting.

Do not open your restaurant without being fully prepared. Order all of the restaurant supply equipment you will need well in advance, so you have time to make exchanges or returns if what you initially order does not work out the way you intend. Additionally, ordering everything well in advance will allow you to learn how to use all of your new equipment properly and efficiently. For example, if you plan to offer milkshakes, you want to have plenty of time to learn how the milkshake machine works and to practice. Price out all the equipment you need prior to ordering to ensure you are staying within your budget.

4. Develop policies and procedures


You will need to decide every aspect of your business from how orders will be delivered to the kitchen to what everyone will wear while at work. Every policy and procedure should be written down in an employee manual. You need to take into account what your employees need to know to keep themselves and others safe while in your restaurant. Don’t be afraid to look to other restaurants for examples of restaurant safety measures that you can follow.

Especially with the spread of COVID-19, all restaurant employees need to have a safe work environment and safety procedures in addition to basic food safety. As a restaurant owner, this will have to be a top priority going forward, but your employees and your customers will appreciate your efforts to follow best practices.

5. Hire and train your staff


Once you are prepared with the theme, menu, policies, and procedures, you can start hiring and training your staff. Quality control is essential in the restaurant business, and that begins with properly training your team to ensure the restaurant operations run precisely how you intend. Once your restaurant is open and running, you will need to take steps to ensure all employees are following procedures and maintaining the image and quality of service you want your customers to expect. If your expectations are clear from the start of training, you shouldn’t encounter too many issues.

Restaurant stock photo by Leonardo Izar/Shutterstock