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Starting A Pub or Restaurant Business? (Part1)

Updated: Jan 13, 2023


Covid19 was a turning point for many individuals; backs were to walls and people forced to go on furlough. But, being stuck in our homes, motivation seemed to have infused the UK tap water. People emerged from dark places and began starting new ventures, side hustles, and most importantly, trying to learn new skills.


Unfortunately, many ventures failed and side hustles turned to dust with the reality of how difficult starting up and maintaining a new business can be. It has also been very difficult to predict demographic trends as the world comes to a new norm.


Throughout the lockdown, a lot of people put their efforts into cooking, baking, recipe design and other forms of new food creation. Seeing business opportunities with their newly found time, and food being part of the essential business category, people took the plunge and started selling their masterpieces. Most producing takeaway/delivery style businesses.


Now, over two years on these start-ups are gone. During this time, a lot of pre-existing retailers and other commercial properties decided to close down their physical outlets to focus on their online sales. This left a gap for new pubs, restaurants and cafes to be created in these spaces. But these opportunities were not exploited as the world woke up, and began to venture out again. People are ordering fewer takeaways and once again looking for dining and drinking experiences. The leap from takeaway to a restaurant in hindsight might have been the best course of action, but in uncertain times many could not afford the risk.


There is still a huge opportunity to exploit here, with many businesses like banks closing down their prime locations to reduce costs, leaving valuable space for food and drink experiences, along with other sub-urban and rural warehouse sites closing down. Now people are willing to travel to the outskirts for something new.


If you are on the fence about starting a new venture in the hospitality sector or want to develop your current food/drink business, it's not too late to start and it's not too late to start again - there are many lessons learnt in failure but not so much in never trying.


Take a look at this short, two-part guide to get the fundamentals right for starting up your restaurant business. This is not a failsafe guide and there is no guarantee for success. Hard work and dedication will always be the main ingredient but, this guide is sure to set you on your way...


Introduction

Starting a restaurant business can be an exciting and rewarding venture. However, it is also a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. This guide will provide an overview of the steps necessary to begin a restaurant business, including planning, operations, marketing, financing, and opening. With the right preparation and dedication, you can be well on your way to becoming a restaurant entrepreneur.


Planning:

1. Research: Gather information about the local food industry and the types of restaurants that are successful.

2. Location: Choose a strategic location for the restaurant.

3. Menu: Develop a menu and cost out each item.

4. Design: Create a concept and design for the restaurant.


The planning phase can be, and should be iterative, like an ongoing cycle. Research is essential for informed decisions making, implementing change and keeping up with the latest trends and technology. Restaurant owners should do regular research internally and externally (you can check out our SWOT & PESTLE Analysis Templates to help structure you research).


Just like researching, the menu should have successful staples and then be flexible enough to change and experiment. Keep your food and drinks menu fresh, and regularly survey your audience for approval.


Operations:

1. Staffing: Hire the right employees for each position.

2. Equipment: Purchase or lease equipment necessary for the restaurant.

3. Licensing: Obtain permits and licenses required by law.

4. Suppliers: Identify and contract with the necessary vendors.


If this is your first rodeo, then hire experienced staff or at the very least get professional advice on running and managing the restaurant. If your staff are experienced bartenders, table attendants and chefs then they have the fundamentals, you just need to make your mark on how service is delivered. Depending on your budget, an experienced restaurant manager could save you time and costly mistakes and take a lot of day-to-day issues away from you, allowing focus to spent on more important functions.


Don't underestimate the value of your suppliers. Good suppliers will work with you to deliver your needs and offer their professional experience where you are potentially lacking. A good supplier will ensure your money goes as far as possible, they should be rooting for your success. There are multiple suppliers to pick from offering many different services. Get tenders from a few different ones to ensure competitive prices. Don't make decisions based on cost - paying more for a service can sometimes go a lot further than cheap and cheerful.


Marketing:

1. Branding: Develop an identity and brand for the restaurant.

2. Promotions: Design promotional materials and create a marketing plan.

3. Social Media: Use social media to reach potential customers.


The identity and the brand needs to reflect yourself in the first instance. The customers then gravitate to you and your restaurant. You can't have an identity based off what people might like, be yourself and adopt the style that suits you and let this radiate through your products, services and staff. Your business fingerprint is no different to your physical one, you can't be something you are not for very long and the passion will dwindle.


Promotions and social media can work together hand in hand. One thing for sure, you can't neglect either of them. You have to keep banging the drum, but bang in tune - people want and need to know you're there with clear-cut messages, don't make noise with no substance. Remember, there's a big audience out there, there's always a first time someone reads your message, so make it count!


End of part 1.... Look out for part 2 in the next few days.

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