An operator speaks to ICE management students

How to Open a Restaurant

Opening a successful restaurant, bakery or any other food business takes more than just a great idea — it requires concept development, finance, market savvy and operations, along with how to handle real estate, marketing and social media — in other words, decisions that can make or break your restaurant’s success.

Keys to Success for Opening a Restaurant

Before you begin scouting a location, hiring staff or designing a menu for your new restaurant, you’ll need to make sure your business gets off to the right start. Having the skills to build your food business on a foundation of shrewd market analysis and business planning — skills ICC students learn in the Culinary Entrepreneurship program — will help make your restaurant dream a reality.

Starting Your Own Food Business: Identifying Opportunity

An idea is a great starting point for opening a restaurant, bakery or food business, but without the right market conditions, even the best idea can fall flat. To determine whether or not there is opportunity to turn your restaurant idea into the thriving business, you’ll need to find out if your idea is viable for success by doing a thorough analysis of the market.

Your market analysis will help you answer these and other questions about opening a restaurant:

  • Is there a need for my product or service? What “problem” will my business solve for the consumer?
  • Are consumers willing to pay for my products or services?
  • Is there opportunity to open my business in my desired location?
  • Can I provide my product or service at the right price for the market and still generate revenue?
  • Is the timing right to launch my business now?
  • Who are my competitors? How will I differentiate myself?
  • How large is the market? Is the industry growing or declining?

Answering these questions help you decide if the market circumstances are in your business’s favor and will lay the groundwork for making smart decisions for your restaurant or bakery later on.

You may have a great idea for a food establishment, but right now that’s all it is — an idea. To turn that idea into a viable business, ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program gives future food entrepreneurs an in-depth knowledge of how to find real business opportunities through market assessment, feasibility and other important entrepreneurial skills.

Starting Your Own Restaurant or Bakery: Planning for Success

A business plan is a roadmap for your success as a food entrepreneur, and the process of writing a business plan helps you clearly define your restaurant’s concept and business model, test market assumptions and validate feasibility.

Not only will creating your business plan help you stay on track with starting and running your restaurant, but it is also a tool to help you clearly communicate your passion and vision to investors who want to help fund the growth of your food business.* Once you’re up and running, the business plan helps you act quickly to take advantage of trends.

“Everyone likes to remind culinary entrepreneurs that most restaurants fail, but what they leave out is that most restaurateurs open without a solid business plan. If you want to prove the naysayers wrong, open your restaurant with a solid business plan.” – Rob Anderson, ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship alumnus and chef/owner of The Canteen in Provincetown, MA

Writing a business plan requires you to review all of the important aspects of opening your business:

  • How much money do I need to get started?
  • What are my funding sources?
  • How long before I break even? Generate a profit?
  • What will set me apart from my competitors?
  • Who are my target customers? How will I market to them?
  • Who will be the key players in the business? What staff do I need to hire?
  • What are my risks? How will I handle potential problems?
  • What are my operational milestones? How will I gauge success?

A comprehensive business plan should answer these questions and more, helping you to clarify your vision and lay the groundwork for future growth.

Pursue Your Culinary Entrepreneurial Dreams at ICC

If you’re serious about starting your own restaurant, bakery or other food business, you need to develop the entrepreneurial skills and business expertise needed to succeed in this competitive industry. ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship instructors include those from world-class institutions such as Cornell University School of Hospitality, Babson College — ranked #1 in entrepreneurship education — and the gold-standard Union Square Hospitality Group, ensuring you have the best academic resources and chances for success.

The instructors leading ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program — seasoned experts from both the academic business field and the culinary entrepreneurship industry — are there to help provide you with the knowledge, guidance and invaluable mentor-ship that can last long after the program ends.

“My best advice: Find a mentor, or two or three. I found most of my mentors through the ICC program.” – Michael Chernow, Culinary Entrepreneurship alumnus and co-founder of the The Meatball Shop

Entrepreneurs can explore ICE's Restaurant & Culinary Management program.

This blog post was originally published by the International Culinary Center (ICC), founded as The French Culinary Institute (FCI). In 2020, ICE and ICC came together on one strong and dynamic national platform at ICE's campuses in New York City and Los Angeles. Explore your culinary education where the legacy lives on.

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