Key Takeaways for Opening a Restaurant in 2017

OpenTable partnered with Kristen Hawley, founder of the popular Chefs + Tech newsletter, to create the How to Grow & Thrive in the Restaurant Business e-book, the ultimate guide to serving guests and growing your business at every phase of a restaurant’s lifecycle. We’re sharing excerpts from each stage, so follow along and download the whole guide here.

The earliest stage of your restaurant’s life—the period directly before its opening, the opening itself, and the first months of service—hold a lot of potential. You’ve already made large decisions about operations, systems, concept, location, decor, menu, and staff. Now comes maximising all of those elements for success.

Key takeaways to opening a restaurant:

  1. Understand your place in the restaurant ecosystem. Your location, menu, clientele, decor, and staff all set the tone for your restaurant’s brand, tone, and feel.
  2. Set up your floor for success. Customise your floor management tools to reflect your restaurant’s unique flow—decide when you want reservations, what you expect turn times to be, and when you’ll accept large parties.
  3. Prioritise staff training. The people who work in your restaurant are a critical part of your brand and your communication with guests.
  4. Figure out the best way to tell your story. A solid mix of website, social media, PR, and in-restaurant storytelling enhance and enforce your brand. Be creative!
  5. Choose the amount of online presence you have the ability to maintain. Prioritise your website and Facebook page first, then build awareness on Instagram and Twitter.
  6. Reach as many potential diners as possible. Think outside traditional advertising channels and get in front of diners where they are looking for a special experience. Start building relationships with them early on.
  7. Create a tone guide for consistency across channels. Define your vision, voice, and content plan, and use the guide as a point of reference for your whole team.
  8. Make the most of opening coverage. Enlist a PR agency to help you create all of the assets you need to tell your story—bios, photos, a press release—and get that story in front of the media. Use reservations as a media moment!
  9. Measure your success. As early as possible, strike a balance between business metrics (covers, sales) and anecdotal evidence (social followers, “likes”). Understanding how these work in tandem is key to understanding and guiding your success.
  10. Encourage positive reviews. Ask guests for feedback online and offline to start building your reputation.

Want more tips on opening a restaurant? Download the guide and visit pages 2-22 for more information.

Photos courtesy of Apples + Pears Entertainment Group.