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Starting a Food Service Business? Here are Some Things to Plan For

What makes one food service establishment last for years and another fail so quickly? Of course, the quality of the food and the attentiveness of the service are important. But there's really a lot more to it than that.

If you're thinking about opening a new restaurant, food-truck, or catering business, fully understanding what you are in for and being prepared is the best way to succeed. Here are a few things to think about from the experts at Food Services.

You Need a Solid Business Plan

Your first investment in a new food service business isn't financial. It's an investment of your time to put a solid business plan in place, accounting for a few different things.

  • What type of establishment are you opening? Full-service, fast-food, food-trucks, and catering business will all have their own particular nuances.
  • What licenses and permits will be required for your business?
  • Depending on the type of establishment that you're opening, you'll need a different number of employees, both hourly and management.
  • What type of food will you specialize in. You'll want to both plan your menu and decide on a price range that will net enough of a profit to support the business.
  • Where will your business be located? You'll want to think about who will be attracted to your food, the other competition in the area, and how much space you will need.
  • What is your start-up budget? Consider expenses like rent, insurance, labor, equipment, furniture, utilities, and the initial cost of food and beverages.
  • How will you market your business? Do you have a logo? What's the name of your establishment?
  • Is your business a sole proprietorship, a general partnership, or a Limited Liability Company?


Once you have a business plan in place, you can begin to take care of the specifics of the plan to get your restaurant up and going.

Licensing and Permits

The first thing that you want to do is obtain or start the process of acquiring any licenses or permits that you will need. Depending on the particular permit, they can sometimes take a little time to complete.

  • You'll need an EIN, Employee Identification Number.
  • Your city and state may both require a business license and a food service license.
  • If you are seating patrons, you'll need a Certificate of Occupancy from your city.
  • If you serve alcohol, you'll need a liquor license defining what types of alcohol you are permitted to serve.
  • You may also need a cabaret license if you have an area for dancing.

Equipment

The supplies and equipment needed will probably be the biggest part of your opening budget, depending on the type of establishment that you are opening and whether you are buying or renting the things that you need. Here are a few things to think about.

  • Kitchen equipment and appliances for preparing and cooking as well as refrigerators and freezers for cooling.
  • Furniture and decor. Even food-trucks might have outside seating.
  • Dishes, glassware, napkins, silverware, and to-go packaging items will be needed.
  • If you have a bar, you'll need additional equipment and supplies.

Hiring Employees

Regardless of what type of food service establishment you are opening, the quality of your employees will be a huge factor in your success. Plan for in-depth interviews and always verify references to make sure that you get the best candidates.

Pick the Best POS System for Your Establishment

The days of hand-written order pads and yelling orders to the kitchen are long gone. You'll want a Point of Sale computer system both for communicating orders and tracking sales and statistical trends.

Regardless of what type of establishment you are opening, an efficient, reliable POS system will make your operation run smoother and be more profitable.

These are only a few of the basic things that you should be considering when you are opening a new food service establishment. The most important part is the planning. Keep everything organized and follow your plan.