Ready to Open Your First Restaurant? Here’s Where to Start

06.1.22 | Business Planning

Like many aspiring restaurateurs, you’ve spent months or even years dreaming up your perfect eatery. Now it’s time to make that vision a reality. 

There’s a lot that goes into launching a successful restaurant, from finding a great location to hiring staff and building out your menu. Regardless of what your ideal restaurant may look like, it’s best to begin with the basics. 

When you’re ready to open your first restaurant, here’s where to start.

Dreaming of opening a restaurant? Download our Ultimate Guide to Opening an Eatery

Define Your Vision 

Before you get to work on the logistics of your restaurant, you’ll need to have a clear idea of what it will be. No two restaurants are exactly the same, and your greater vision will have a big impact on the small details. For instance, if you plan to open a vegan spot you may need to rely on different suppliers than a steakhouse. Your target demographic will also play a critical role in choosing the best location for your restaurant. 

As a guide, outline the elements of your dream restaurant on paper. What style or type of cuisine will you serve? What does the restaurant space look like? Who are your customers? Determining these characteristics first is an important part of successful restaurant planning. 

Thinking about opening a restaurant? Check out these helpful blog posts to get started. 

Assess Your Finances Honestly 

While opening a restaurant can be a rewarding and profitable venture, it can also be quite costly. As part of your planning, ensure you have a strong understanding of your personal financial health. During this process, be as realistic as possible. While a thorough assessment of your financial assets may be discouraging, it is better than landing yourself in hot water down the line. 

Beyond the physical space of your restaurant, launching a small business comes with a wide range of ongoing costs. You should budget for utilities, repairs and renovations, hiring costs, wages, kitchen supplies, equipment, insurance and advertising as regular costs of business. 

If you’re unsure where to start with your finances and what your funding options are, ask an expert. Financial planners who specialize in small businesses can provide you with a full picture of how costly your restaurant will be. Plus, they can also help optimize your current budget strategy, and take advantage of any available government programs that support small businesses like yours.

The restaurant industry is changing in 2022. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you should be aware of new trends. Learn more here

Understand Licensing and Legalities

Although exact requirements will vary based on municipality, opening a restaurant in Ontario will require you to obtain certain permits and licenses. You can determine applicable requirements by contacting your local business board. 

In addition to permits, there are other legal regulations you’ll need to adhere to as a restaurant owner. For instance, if you employ staff members, you’ll need to follow local and provincial employment laws. And, as a restaurant, you’ll also be required to follow applicable food safety regulations. 

These items may seem obvious, however, they are an important part of restaurant ownership. A proactive approach to understanding the licensing and legal requirements of your business is the best way to avoid potential violations. 

The Canadian government has made new pledges to support small businesses in 2022. Learn more about these benefits on our blog.  

Find a Hospitality Agent

Just like searching for the perfect home, finding the right space for your eatery will require working with a real estate agent. However, when opening a restaurant, you’ll want specialty help. Hospitality agents are real estate professionals who work specially in the service and hospitality industries. They understand the unique factors that come with buying or leasing a restaurant and are your best resource for launching your restaurant successfully. 

Plus, hospitality agents can do more than just help you find a great space for your restaurant. As industry experts, they can connect you with business brokers, marketers and other crucial resources to help get you started on the right foot. 

Want to learn more about restaurant operations? Check out these helpful resources from our blog. 


Finally, you’ll need to determine the best location for your restaurant. Although it may seem obvious, it’s hard to overstate the importance of location. From surrounding demographics to foot traffic and neighbourhood image, the precise location of your restaurant could be the determining factor of whether or not it’s successful. 

Finding the perfect site may seem overwhelming, however, your hospitality agent can help ensure you make the right decision. Factoring in your distinct restaurant vision, their industry expertise and local market knowledge can determine where the best place to open up will be. 

When you’re ready to open a restaurant, get in touch with us. As experienced hospitality agents, we can help. 

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