Whether you own your own restaurant, are well on your way to becoming a restaurant owner, or are an aspiring entrepreneur wanting to get into the business, there are a few things you need to know. Some of these tips are important for legal reasons, others for functionality purposes. If you are new to the business, there is much to take into consideration. Without further ado, let’s jump right in:
Each state is different in regards to how many licenses and permits you will need before your first paying customer places an order. However, there are some common licenses that you will need in every state before your restaurant can open its doors:
1. Business License – All restaurants must comply with local, state and federal business licensing rules. Whether this means registering your restaurant’s trade name at city hall or filling out specified forms, your restaurant must be registered legally.
2. Building License – Obtaining a building license means proving that your physical establishment is safe. Often issued by fire commissioners, occupancy and other building licenses require you to prove that your establishment has and maintains working fire extinguishers, emergency exits and the like. Depending on where you live, you may be required to prove that your building can withstand the forces of natural disasters like floods, tornados and earthquakes.
3. Food Handling and Safety License – In some states, restaurant owners are required to complete a mandatory food handling and sanitation training before they are allowed to serve food to the public. This may require classroom certification, on-site inspections or both. As a new restaurant owner, it may be a good idea to get two or three other staff members certified through this process due to the fact that at least one certified person must be present at the establishment during all hours that it is open.
4. Liquor License – If you are considering serving alcoholic beverages at your establishment, this is something you need to look into right away. Some towns have ordinances that limit the number of liquor licenses that can be issued on a single block or in a single neighborhood. Therefore, it is important to investigate the guidelines in your area early on. Obtaining a liquor license could mean having to purchase one from the restaurant across the street.
Hiring a Great Chef
Your first chef, or kitchen manager, needs to be someone that can handle the stress and uncertainty of a start-up. When you are hiring a chef, it is important to note their credentials, experience and whether or not they share the same vision as you do. If a chef has ten years of experience cooking fine, French food, and your new restaurant specializes in comfort food, you may not want to hire that chef. Though he/she may have the most experience out of anyone you interview, their experience may not match what your restaurant needs.
When looking at a potential chef’s experience and credentials, it is important to note prior establishments she has worked at and the pace of each. Your chef needs to be able to keep up with the pace of your new business and be able to handle the volume of orders expected during a rush. In addition, your chef needs to be able to direct other staff members calmly during these busy times. Therefore, you will need to look into your potential chef’s leadership experiences as well.
Another key attribute you need to look for is consistency. Especially with a new establishment, customers will be spreading the news of how delicious your food is through word of mouth. If a customer is pleased with an entrée and decides to bring his entire family to the restaurant to share in his first experience, and the food is not the same, you will have a problem. It is very important that with the necessary speed, the chef you chooses is also just as thorough as she would be if she were cooking on a slow day.
Lastly, your new chef needs to have the same goals in mind as you do – creating a fantastic menu that will attract patrons on your block, in your neighborhood, in your city and beyond. Therefore, it is important to employ a chef whose vision is the same as yours and can also share your philosophy on customer service. This will give your patrons just another reason to keep coming back to your establishment.
Establishing an Internet Presence
Your website will lead patrons in your area to your restaurant. Once you have an easy-to-navigate, attractive and fully functional website, you can begin adding your establishment into Google’s business database. Using Google Business will allow you to register your establishment on Google Maps, add your hours of operation, phone number, pricing, and links to your website and menu to Google’s search engine – and even allow patrons to use Google to leave reviews of your establishment.
If you are new to the business, it is important to keep these three things in mind: Licensing, hiring your first chef, and your internet presence. Without these three things, you will not be able to operate legally, offer your patrons consistent, delicious food promptly, and offer different options to your customer bases like online ordering or online reservations. Getting a head start on these three things will put you well on your way to success.
Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.
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