Thinking About Opening a Restaurant in Cottage Country? Read This First

04.18.22 | Business Planning

If you’ve had the privilege of visiting cottage country, you know there’s nowhere else like it in the world. Lush greenery, crystal blue lakes and laid-back community atmospheres are just some of the features that make the area so special. Cottage country is a great place to visit, but it can also be an amazing place to call home and even start a business. In 2022, a growing number of restaurateurs are looking for new and exciting places to open an eatery – and cottage country has a lot to offer! 

Cottage country is an amazing place to open a restaurant. However, there are a few special factors to be aware of before you get the ball rolling. An expert real estate agent can help guide you through the nuances of starting a business in a remote community. In the meantime, here are a few key insights from our team to help get you started. 

Ready to start a restaurant? Download our Ultimate Guide to Opening an Eatery

Location Matters

In Ontario, cottage country is a fairly broad term. In most instances, the cottage country title typically refers to the regions of Muskoka, Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton and Georgian Bay/Lake Simcoe. Though each area and community offers its own unique charms and identity, many cottage country townships share similar characteristics when it comes to local trends and businesses. 

Based on your vision for what kind of restaurant you would like to open, some communities may be better suited than others. For instance, a common factor in many restaurants’ business plans these days is third-party delivery apps. In most remote cottage communities, these delivery services do not exist. While this may seem like an obvious detail, it’s an important element to consider if you’re expecting to utilize this service. In recent years some restaurants have opted to set up in-house delivery services to meet the needs of nearby residents. 

A great real estate agent who specializes in hospitality will be able to help you better understand the local factors that may impact your business. 

Looking to open your dream restaurant? Check out these helpful resources from our blog. 

Seasonal Factors

As you may expect, communities in cottage country can change drastically based on the season. As a restaurant owner, there are a handful of seasonal factors that you should be aware of before opening. Of course, summer is the busiest time of year in cottage country.  However, an influx of tourists and seasonal locals doesn’t just mean you’ll have more income. 

Based on the unique trends of your community, the warmer months could mean hiring additional staff members to support the greater foot traffic. This is something that will take careful preparation before peak season arrives. 

Be Ready For Supply Chain Challenges 

In 2022, many restaurants in large cities across North America are still facing critical supply chain shortages. For businesses in remote communities, receiving critical supplies can be even more challenging given their distance from larger urban hubs. While these difficulties may become less prevalent as we transition to a post-pandemic economy, it is something restaurant owners should expect in the short term. 

Outside of interruptions related to COVID-19, cottage country is also notorious for creating substantial traffic jams on Ontario’s highways. Not only can this traffic slow your customers down on their way to the cottage, but it can also impact deliveries or shipments you may be relying on. 

Looking for more business insights? Here are a few more helpful tools for aspiring restaurant owners. 

Local Resources

If you’re new to cottage country, partnering with local experts can offer you critical support while navigating the business landscape. The good news is that there are a handful of organizations within cottage country dedicated to ensuring local businesses thrive. 

The Downtown Bracebridge BIA offers a variety of support programs for new business owners. The organization provides a variety of resources ranging from marketing to networking. Muskoka Small Business Centre (MSBC) is another excellent organization that supports small business owners. MSBC offers a variety of in-person and online tools for helping local entrepreneurs succeed. In addition to market research and financial support, the organization runs mentorship programs for small business owners who are new to the region. 

Regardless of where you choose to open your restaurant, a real estate agent who specializes in hospitality is your best resource to help make your business a success. 

When you’re ready to open a restaurant, get in touch with us and learn how we can help every step of the way.