5 Keys to Opening a Successful Restaurant


1. The 3 Key Ingredients are Food, Service, and Ambiance

You want to create a lasting experience so they become brand ambassadors and start recommending to friends. One night with bad service can be damaging. Make sure there's something about your menu that's special, especially if you want to franchise - everyone loves to share their favorite secret spots on social media - is there something to write home about?  Can people reference it and easily invoke a feeling? I've seen this done right, and seen this done wrong, so make sure you cover all your bases. 


2. Understand Your Space and How it Will Be Used

Based on your location, what kind of clientele will be stopping in? If it's fast casual, you'll want tables and chairs that are durable and can be easily wiped down. You'll also probably need extras because you know people love to shove together tables and squeeze in chairs. Also, with rent going up and square footage going down, you have to be creative with your space. Can you fit a long standing communal table in your bar? People will be likely to stay longer if there's a place to lean, even if it's a tight space. Do you attract a young crowd? Plan specials nights, invite a DJ, make sure your media is on point. 


3. Manage Your Expectations AND Budget

My first goal when starting a project is to try to align expectations with budgets.  You have to  be able to quickly evaluate a potential space and identify potential budget busters so that you can take that into consideration as you evaluate the cost.  Also, just know you're probably going to spend more money than you think. 


4. Location, Location, Location

This part is half connections and half luck, but when you find a location that meets your desires you have to make sure it works for a restaurant.  Make sure that you have all the correct zoning, parking requirements, accessibility for deliveries, and trash removal.  Focus on what the amenities of the space is and try to maximize it’s design potential. 


Negotiate a Good Lease

By fully understanding the liabilities and process of a project you are better able to negotiate a favorable lease. Stipulation about who pays for what and what are each parties responsibilities should be clearly spelled out in the lease.  Milestones should be in place that are in line with realistic timeframes of how long it takes to get approvals. Get a good lawyer early, even if you can't afford one, you can't afford not to have one. 

Did I miss anything? Let me know!

Are you looking to open a restaurant or entertainment space but haven't found the design concept you've been looking for? SFJones Architects is a leader and trusted partner in restaurant design, branding, and consulting. Get in touch today!