Changing lifestyles has increased the attractiveness of food outlets in the 21st century. The restaurant market is incredibly diverse with ample opportunity for the personal touch. In recent years many entrepreneurs have entered the restaurant market looking to offer customers something a little bit different.

Why start a restaurant?

The food industry offers an enormous market with plenty of room for smaller players. Whilst some sub-sectors are dominated by heavyweights, such as fast food, there are significant niche opportunities for entrepreneurs based around specific demographics or cuisines. In today’s time-poor society, people are more and more likely to eat outside the home, providing plenty of potential for start-ups.

What skills will I need?

Running a restaurant is not easy. You’ll need to be extremely organised as there are many different tasks to juggle, such as organising staff rotas, ensuring stock levels are adequate, buying accessories, sourcing cheap suppliers and making sure food standards are up to scratch. You’ll also need to be responsible for health and safety which is fundamental to a restaurant’s success; any concerns over the food standards maintained can hit revenue.


Formal training is possible but can prove expensive – colleges are your best bet for finding suitable courses. Hospitality courses may offer some form of managerial experience but are likely to be more general. On-the-job experience is very useful but you’ll probably need to volunteer your services as few restaurateurs will let you work a high-level position with little or no experience. Speak to independent restaurants that may be struggling financially.

Start-up costs

Starting a restaurant can be expensive; aside from the costs of equipping premises and employing staff, there are a number of compliance-related certificates that must be prepared for and purchased. Marketing costs can also be substantial; unless your restaurant occupies a particularly prominent location, you’ll have to drum up publicity via a range of methods. Theme nights and special events can often work well for new restaurants but can be expensive.


Restaurants required tailored insurance cover due to the significant risks involved. Public liability insurance, whilst technically optional, is really a necessity. If a customer injures themselves on your property the resulting lawsuit could cripple your business. If you employ staff, employer’s liability insurance is required by law. You may also wish to look into stock protection and cash protection, the latter of which is recommended if you keep a lot of money on-site. Contents and fittings insurance can also be purchased to protect your interior.

Compliance issues

All businesses that work with food must fulfil significant compliance obligations, such as keeping foods at correct temperatures and ensuring all staff members wear safety gloves at all times. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can provide additional information where necessary and advise on legislation that must be adhered to.

Your first step

The decision to start a restaurant should not be taken lightly. Market research is essential to ensure there will be sufficient uptake to make your restaurant profitable. See what other restaurants are operating in your target area and which ones are succeeding. You may also wish to directly ask local people, perhaps through surveys, whether they would consider the opening of your restaurant a positive for the area. Your next step is training, and ensuring you have the skills and acumen necessary to run a business successfully.