Your Design

cafe-designThe design phase can be one of the most enjoyable yet stressful aspects of opening a new restaurant. First impressions for your customers could be the make or break of them returning to your restaurant again. So, you want to create a comfortable, functional and well thought out space as this goes a long way when it comes to customer impressions. The kind of ‘comfortable atmosphere’ you create for your diners  all depends on the concept you’ve chosen for your restaurant. In a fine dinning restaurant you might find fancy light fittings, large tables with white table clothes, expensive wine glasses, elegant background music, compared to a family Italian eatery where checkered red table clothes, formica cups and paper serviettes.

Seating Capacity
One important factor is seating capacity. How many customers can you comfortable (and legally) seat. Cheaper more casual restaurants usually focus more on maximum seating capacity where as high end, fine dinning restaurants focus on ambience and atmosphere first. By now you will have decided on your restaurant’s concept so taking the next step into the design phase shouldn’t be too difficult.

Getting the Most out of Outdoor Areas
For those lucky enough to have outdoor areas, you need to ensure that adequate shade, lighting, fencing and security are all considered. We used a team of Geelong fencing contractors to create the most epic outdoor entertainment areas at one of our recent restaurant openings in Victoria. The team designed an amazing outdoor space with different level decks, merbau fencing privacy screens and planter boxes. It was a clear win with customers on opening night – the sun was out, drinks flowing and delicious food followed. Investing in a quality and reliable contractor will make your life much easier.

Continue Reading

Licences, registrations and permits


In this post I want to talk about licences, registrations and permits you might need for your restaurant or café business. Let me just be clear though, this is just general advice as laws and requirements will vary between states in Australia. Make sure you do your own research and if you’re new to the industry speak with other restaurant owners to get their advice. Oversight on one small thing when it comes to licencing and registration could be the different between being able to open your doors to the public or not.

When I was starting out in the industry, dealing with licencing and registration requirements were a headache but now I have the process down pat. There are so many variations depending on how you’ll run and operate your restaurant. Consider some of the questions below:

Continue Reading

Something else you’ll need to consider…

For this blog post I want to move away from expanding on the 12 steps I mentioned here and talk about a very important aspect of running a successful restaurant – keeping it clean, hygienic and beautifully presented. Your kitchen and front of house staff can be expected to do some cleaning but you’ll need to outsource and hire professional cleaners too. You need to make sure you factor that into your costs at the beginning as from experience, many new restaurateurs don’t factor this into pricing in the early days and struggle to find money for the services when they’re needed.

Some outsourcing you will need to consider hiring include carpet cleaners, window cleaners and lawn mowers just to name a few. In my restaurants I hire general cleaners for ongoing works and have a list of other local businesses like the above three I mentioned, that I hire on an as needed basis.

Continue Reading

Location, location, location


… And how to choose the right one for your restaurant!

A crucial step in planning for your new restaurant is choosing the location. You can’t just pick any old location, it has to be the right location. There are four important steps you need to consider when choosing a location for your restaurant:

  1. Population of the area
    You need to make sure your restaurant is in location that has a population big enough to support it and make it thrive. Some questions to ask yourself, “does this location get frequent foot and car traffic?” (are people walking or driving past your restaurant regularly?) and “what’s the demographic of the suburb?” (no point having a Fine Dining restaurant in a lower socio-economic area of town).
  2. Accessibility
    Is there enough local car parking to cater to your customer’s needs? Ideally, your restaurant would have its own carpark or at the very least, ample parking close by. Is there any public transport or taxi stands nearby for people who don’t drive? You want to make it as easy as possible for people to reach your restaurant.
  3. Visibility
    Can your restaurant be seen from the street? Is there enough room for signage or advertising? Will people walking past know your restaurant is there?
  4. Competition
    Are there many competitors in the area? Are other restaurants in the area booming or struggling? If other restaurants in the area are booming there is room to grow but if other restaurants in the area are struggling, it’s likely that the area isn’t going to be a prosperous location for your restaurant.

location-location-locationIt’s so important to consider these steps when looking at different locations for your restaurant. Gather as much data about the area as you can, your local Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start for statistical data and business analytics.

Don’t get sucked in by cheap rent, an ocean view or lack of competition in an area as these don’t necessarily mean your restaurant will be successful, in fact they could mean the opposite.

As always, leave any questions in the comments section below or via my contact page.



Staffing your restaurant



There’s a lot to consider when beginning the process of staffing your restaurant and for that reasons I’m going to write this blog post as an introduction to futures posts with more detailed information on each of the points I raise below.

I’ve used the term “make or break” a lot throughout my blog but that term is 100% appropriate when it comes to staffing your restaurant. You want good staff representing your restaurant.  Customers might come for the food initially but if your customer service isn’t on point you can almost guarantee they won’t return and even worse, will tell their
friends and family about it.

Continue Reading

Creating your menu


There are two parts to creating your restaurant’s menu. The first, deciding what dishes will be included and the second, creating the physical menu that your customers will read.

This is probably one of my most enjoyable aspects of opening a new restaurant – deciding what dishes make the cut and make it onto the final menu (not to mention taste testing!!). In your initial stages of planning your restaurant from concept to completion, the final menu can seem way off but you can start planning your menu in the early days, even without having hired a chef.

When deciding on my restaurants concept (more here), I always have an idea of what kind of dishes I’d like to be served and I make a list, but ultimately, I do not finalise the menu until I have hired a head chef and consulted with them.

Continue Reading

Deciding on your restaurant’s concept


To define your restaurant’s concept, you need to know what you want to serve and who you want to serve it to. These days there are so many different types of restaurants it can be a bit like “information overload” when you’re first coining the idea of opening a restaurant but work through it as this is an important step and if done correctly, will set you up for future success.

Continue Reading

Where do you start?


Thinking “where do I start with opening a restaurant?” You’ve come to the right place. I hope through my blog I can share my 15+ years knowledge and experiences with those who are starting out in their own restaurant building empire.

Over on the Your Journey page are my 12 MUST DO steps before you start your restaurant. One of the best places to start reading my blog is right there. Also check out Manna’s Mission to find out more about me and my history in the hospitality industry. Once you’ve discovered those pages then continue on reading through my blog posts.

Happy reading.