Opening a restaurant can be an exciting thing, but it can also be very tricky. Restaurants are one of the riskiest businesses out there. The first thing you can do to ensure the success of your new restaurant is to make sure you choose the appropriate space. You’ll want to make sure that you have the right kitchen facilities for the type of restaurant you’re opening (for example, a sushi restaurant would need a different type of kitchen than a barbeque restaurant), enough room to accommodate a crowd, and perhaps most importantly, that you’re in a good location. This might sound like a lot to think about, but searching for the right space doesn’t have to be stressful.

How Much Can You Afford?

The first thing you need to do, before you even start looking for a space, is to sit down and figure out a budget. You’ll need to form a realistic estimate of how much revenue your restaurant is going to be pulling in per month. A good goal for your rent and utility budget is 5 to 10 percent of your monthly revenue. It may help to sit down with an accountant. They can help you estimate what your revenue might be, and from there you can figure out what you can afford to pay each month for a space.

Location, Location, Location

Once you have a budget in mind, the next step is to choose a location for your restaurant. Everyone’s heard the saying “location, location, location”- it can make or break your restaurant! Depending on where you live and who you want to be attracted to your restaurant, you have to decide if you want a space along a main road, somewhere with a lot of foot traffic, etc. You’ll also want to watch out for potential competitors. Trying to establish a new Mexican restaurant next to a Chipotle that’s been there for ten years is probably not a good idea.

Space Size Matters

The next step is to decide how much square footage your restaurant needs in order to be successful. This will also depend on what kind of restaurant you’re establishing. If you’re opening a coffee shop and going for a small, relaxed space filled with plants and vinyl records, then you won’t need much square footage. However, if you’re opening a restaurant that will serve a full dinner menu, then you’ll need plenty of space to put seating for your customers, possibly a bar, and you’ll need a good kitchen space as well. Be aware that if you’re opening a restaurant in a big city, you’ll pay a premium for space. For example, in New York City, spaces are rented out for over $100 per square foot! Do some research into the general guidelines on square footage per customer for different types of restaurants. The aforementioned coffee shop would require less space per customer than the full-service restaurant.

Legal Issues

You’ll want to make sure you have all the necessary permits to open your restaurant. These permits include, but are not limited to, a business license, a liquor license if you plan on serving alcohol, and a food service license. You’ll need to go through an inspection by the health department before you open, and in some cases your local fire department must clear your space to ensure it is safe for your employees and customers. Plan on spending a few thousand dollars on the fees for those licenses, especially the liquor license.

Giving Your Space a Personality

Finally, perhaps the best part of opening your own place is deciding how to decorate it! You’ll need to decide on what kind of tables and chairs or booths you want, what sort of art you’ll put on the walls, the lighting in your restaurant, and more. Every part of the room contributes to the overall feel and aesthetic, so choose carefully- but remember to have fun with it, too. You have an opportunity to put your own personality and flair into your place. Small personal touches can make a huge difference. Just remember to make the decor appropriate to your food and restaurant theme, for example it would be weird to dine somewhere that looked like a diner but served Mexican food.

Ready to Get Started?

Excited to start planning your own restaurant, but not sure where to start? Let us help! Schwarz Properties specializes in commercial and residential property management in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Not only do we lead the market for industrial and warehouse space, our portfolio also includes retail space, restaurant space, residential properties, office space, and much more. If you are looking for restaurant spaces, please contact Schwarz Properties at (336) 625-6076 or visit us on our website.