The Ultimate Guide to Setting Up and Running a Restaurant


If you are reading this then you are probably starting to think about starting a restaurant. Like me when I started my first restaurant you will probably be drowning in information. I wanted to put together a guide that simplified the information and put the essentials all in one place. Granted it doesn’t go into the detail needed to make your final decision but I hope that it will go some way to you breaking free of the rat race and becoming your own boss.

Three most important things – Location, location, Location

The chances are you have already thought about where your ideal location is. When you made this choice in your head it was probably based around the area you know quite well and there maybe factors you didn’t consider. You will need to make sure that the property will be suitable for food preparation. Also you will need to check that the premises can can comply to the various regulations.

For example, have think about your staff needs and the space they are going to need to do their job in an hygienic way, are there enough wash basins. If there are not enough wash basins and toilets you will need to install more, and making major plumbing changes to a building can be costly. So don’t just think that you will think about that later and get at least three quotes for the job and make sure the work will comply with current building regulations.

Have a look at the walls and ceilings as these will need to be kept very clean if you are to avoid a ticking off about your hygiene standards. Walls and ceiling should be smooth and easy to clean. You don’t want any cracks or crevices as these will only collected dust and grime, or even worse a make a good home for the local wildlife!

The last major thing to have think about is the room you are going t have to have the kitchen in. You will be installing some pretty major equipment so it is best to go armed with a tape measure, and get some accurate measurements of the room. From here you will be able to go online and use a search term like ‘stainless steel catering equipment’ and this should enable you to find a few suppliers. To give you a cost idea and also to give you dimensions so you can see if it will all fit in the space.

Before you Open Up

If you want to stay open then you are going to have to do a bit of paperwork firstly. The most important is to register with the Environmental Health Department.It is worth noting that many of these authorities are not exactly swift and processing your request and you should allow at least 4 weeks for them to deliver their verdict.

If you are considering selling alcoholmore help, which is very likely, then you will also need to apply for a licence to do so. The last thing you want is to forget something like this and then realise that for the first few weeks it will be water only for the customers!

In addition to the health regulations you will also t have to ensure that you have all the necessary insurance policies in place. After all you want o make sure your new business is protected from damage.


You are going to become a boss to many people, from the waiting staff, to chefs etc the only way you can do this legally is to get registered with HM Revenue and customs.

In terms of the actual employees don’t even think about getting someone on the cheap and paying cash in hand. Instead you want to obtain NI numbers and set up P.A.Y.E. schemes. This will keep you on the right side of the law and also ensure your employees wages, benefits and rights are all as they should be. If you treat people fairly then are more likely to want to work for you.


My advice here is get yourself an accountant to help you on top of the business records and ensure you are getting all the tax breaks due to you. They will ensure that your books are all in order and you don’t any last-minute panics about tax forms. they will also recommend you on the best way to keep your records as you will be legally bound to store five years worth of records.


This is going to become your new obsession, well it is if you want to run a restaurant of any caliber. It is no good just you being the only one in the building that gets the current standards and knows what to do. When you are employing people try to ensure that they have experience and good food hygiene standards – put them to the test. Also check they do have the food hygiene certification they say they do.

The key is to keep good records, showing your procedures and any training. these can then be easily presented to any inspectors.

Health and Safety

It is likely that modern life has stained your option of health and safety and you may well believe that the whole thing is ridiculous. “Back in my day we didn’t have the nanny state looking after us, we could look after ourselves” (and other such statements). Unfortunately this is mainly incorrect as health and safety practices have saved a lot lives. Yes there will be daft common sense things but try to remember that some people just don’t have any common sense and if you don’t provide Health and Safety training they will be at risk. So play it safe and don’t be cynical.

Running the business

You have all the paperwork taken care of and staff chomping at the bit to get going, so how do you make sure that place runs smoothly. The first thing I would want to get sorted would be a list of suppliers. After all there is one thing you can be sure of that the a good supplier can be the difference of staying open and closing. Who is going to come and eat at restaurant that can’t cook the food on its menu because it has run out of suppliers due to poor suppliers.

Are you going to offering any kind of delivery service?

If the answer is yes then getting the right types of vehicles is imperative. You don’t have to buy a fleet of new vehicles but you will need to be very careful that the vehicles are in good condition. They will have to be able to provide a contamination free environment to transport any food stuffs. Just like the main restaurant the food hygiene folks will be ensuring correct standards are kept.


It is going to take a while for news of your new project to spread. Word of mouth will eventually give you most of your customers however this will take an age to happen. So you will need to inject some cash into a marketing strategy.

You should set aside a budget to allow you to produce and print leaflets, newspaper adverts, online advertising etc. You can do this with the help of a marketing agency but I would suggest that the commission payments will eat away at most budgets to make it practical. Instead use Google to its full advantage. there are plenty of useful resources that will teach you the basics and enable you to set up and run a successful marketing strategy.

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