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Opening A Restaurant Business

Every year across the UK, hundreds of passionate cooks, entrepreneurs, and those who just love food and want to be their own boss wonder, “What do I need to open a restaurant?”

Good food and eager customers for a start. But if only it were that simple. The truth is that being able to cook and running a food business are two separate skills entirely.

Understandably, there is a considerable amount of legislation, paperwork, and admin surrounding food businesses, but it’s all doable. Here, we guide you through some of the key areas you’ll need to consider.

What do you need to open a food business?

Let’s start with the basics. You need to decide what sort of food you want to serve, where you want to serve it from, and who you want to serve it to.

It’s important to carry out some market research. Find out if there is a demand for the food you’re going to offer and, if your business is static – a brick-and-mortar restaurant as opposed to, say, a food van – that you’ve chosen the right location.

Check out your competitors, too. What are they selling? How much are they charging? After all, while cooking is about ingredients, business is about figures.

You need to work out what your premises might cost to rent or buy, what its running costs might be, and what you would have to buy in terms of equipment, fixtures, and fittings before you can get started.

Starting your restaurant business

If you need to borrow money from the bank, then you’ll need to produce a business plan – in fact, even if you don’t need a loan, this is still worth doing because a business plan will give structure to your ideas and be a helpful blueprint going forwards.

You should include the results of your market research and competitor analysis, a marketing plan, your overheads, details of your menu and pricing structure, a financial forecast, and the funding you’ll need.

Along with rent for your commercial premises, don’t forget to include costs around hiring staff, buying furniture and decorating your restaurant, stocking ingredients and drinks, buying equipment, insurance, and printing menus.

Do you need a licence to sell food?

Anyone preparing, cooking, storing, handling, distributing, supplying, or selling food –so that’s everything from restaurants, pop-ups, and food vans to takeaways and home caterers – must register with their local authority.

It’s free to register, and your registration can’t be refused, but ideally, you should register at least 28 days before opening.

How to open a restaurant with the right paperwork in place

This doesn’t have to be as complicated as it might sound. The Food Standards Agency is a good source of information on what you need to do before you start trading.

They can also advise on regulations around storage, labelling and food preparation areas, and food hygiene rules.

It’s a legal requirement to have a Food Hygiene Certificate, and all businesses should be able to achieve the highest rating of five, so this is what you should aim for.

You may also need licences and permits for things like selling alcohol and playing music. Ask your insurance provider about public and employers’ liability insurance and business contents and buildings insurance.


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