I want to build a restaurant, now what?

Becoming a restauranteur – building a restaurant in particular – is not for the faint of heart; it’s hard work. Alberta entrepreneurs are a nitty gritty hard-working people to begin with, but owning and running a restaurant when about 60% of restaurants fail in their first year, takes a special breed of business spirit and know-how. To be successful, you must first determine if you’re willing to work more than 40 hours a week, if you like managing an often transient staff, if you can manage not paying yourself if necessary, how long you want to operate your restaurant, and what your successor/exit plan is. Owning a restaurant can be a rewarding career for the right person – someone willing to work with its inherent disadvantages: high startup costs, strict codes and food safety regulations, labour challenges, and low margins. Restaurants can be very profitable, but the expenses are high so proper management is key – you must be willing to work extremely hard. Because the restaurant industry is so challenging.

At Cormode & Dickson, we offer our clients guidance and expertise on how to start a business, develop a business plan, and manoeuvre through the Alberta construction industry (zoning, permitting, location, and construction).

The Business Plan

Once you’ve figured out if becoming a restauranteur is right for you, we’ll begin working on your business plan. A business plan is your restaurant’s road map; it will guide you in planning and determine whether your goal is feasible. The best business plans are well researched and incredibly detailed. First you’ll want to decide if you’re going to open an independent restaurant or if you’re going to go with a franchise. Franchises offer ready-made business models and can secure financing with relative ease. They often have a built in demand and successful track records, but there isn’t a lot of room for independence and creativity.

Regardless of whether you’re flying solo or as part of an established franchise, you’ll need to determine financials (start up costs, benchmarks, sales projections); find a location and complete a market analysis (what restaurants are in the area, who your competitors are, which have failed and why); obtain a development permit and business license as well as complete applications for other entities (e.g. Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, Edmonton Fire Rescue, and Alberta Health Services); decide on the point of sale/reservation/ordering system you’ll use as well as software for inventory, accounting, and payroll; find your niche (concept, culture, menu, style, marketing); secure your advisors (mentor, accountant, bookkeeper, lawyer); outline your staffing and training requirements (back of house: chefs, cooks, dishwashers; front of house: managers, servers, support staff); figure out who your clientele is and how you’ll handle lulls; and detail your equipment and supply needs (ovens, refrigeration, storage, tables, chairs, food sources).

Entrepreneurs of Alberta know that starting any business requires research, planning, and foresight; restaurants are no different. As experts in Alberta restaurant construction, Cormode & Dickson aids our clients from the project’s inception through to construction and maintenance – we are with you every step of the way.

If you have an idea, but you’re not sure how to execute it, get in contact with us. Consultations are free!