The Ultimate Guide to Opening a Restaurant in 2021!

Everyday, at least three people in France take the plunge and open their own restaurant. Are you tempted by the adventure? Melba has prepared the ultimate guide to help you open your restaurant!

Published on 08/07/2021Sébastien Vassaux

The food service industry is constantly renewing itself through new concepts, products and ideas. Opening a restaurant in 2021 is nothing like opening a restaurant ten years ago.

Many restaurateurs still experience the same problems that were common over ten years ago:

  • How to find an idea for a concept?
  • What are the administrative procedures to be carried out?
  • How to communicate the opening of the restaurant?

Too often, with lack of information and perspective, many launch headstrong into the creation of their restaurant. Unfortunately, opening a restaurant in a hurry can make your project unstable in the long run.

Keep in mind that 80% of new restaurants fail within 3 to 5 years. This is definitely not a situation you want to find yourself in.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome these obstacles and put the odds in your favor. So no, we are not here to assure you of the future success of your restaurant, but we will show you the best techniques to achieve it.

Opening a Restaurant

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1. How to Find the Idea for Your Future Restaurant?

Create the Concept

Before embarking on the opening of your restaurant, it will be quite necessary to think about the idea of the ​​concept which holds your project. This is how you will be able to characterize your competitive advantage.

Do not hesitate to discuss it with your family and friends, it may sound simple, but talking about your project will allow you to make it real in people's heads, and give you a greater incentive for the future.

The concept can reflect your desires and your personality, but it can also be chosen out of opportunism. The important thing is that it echoes the expectations of your consumers.

Then, you have to define your positioning. The latter must be:

Clear and identifiable by your consumers. They need to be able to understand your offer very quickly in order to determine if you are relevant to them.

Differentiating. Your consumers need to be able to identify the differences between you and your competition to make a decision.

The pricing policy will also be crucial in the positioning of your restaurant. The price is an element which differs according to: your economic situation, that of your competitors, the expectations of your customers.

Find a Name

The name of your restaurant should be catchy and create envy. It may seem logical, but the name of your restaurant is one of the first contacts consumers will have with your establishment.

The latter must, therefore, be challenged and trigger in them the desire to cross the threshold of your door. If you get stuck with the name of your restaurant, don't hesitate to use a name generator!

You should also ensure that the name of your restaurant echoes the concept of your restaurant. If it is catchy but it is totally far from your positioning, unfortunately you have to find another one. Always aim for consistency, whether with the name, decoration or communication.

Be careful, once the name of your restaurant is in mind, check its availability directly. To check its availability, go to the INPI website. Once on the site, enter your idea for a restaurant name as well as the product and service classification code (43 for restaurant services).

2. Prepare Your Business Plan

You are probably wondering what a business plan is for? The business plan makes it possible to achieve several major objectives:

  • Have a document that allows you to present your project to people who will potentially fund you. The business plan summarizes all the components of your project to reassure those who will finance you.
  • Strengthen the project. By producing this document you will dig into the subject in depth, and become more aware of the project in which you are embarking. This is an opportunity to validate the feasibility of your project, but also to dwell on its profitability.

Determine the Target

To get started, define your target and what you expect from it. You have to get used to defining and describing these people as well as formulating the questions you will have to answer. Always keep in mind that the end is to convince your interlocutor to invest.

Looking for investment

If you are looking for an investor, it will be essential to focus on the profitability of your establishment.

Looking for a purchase from my business (parent company)

If you are aiming to buy out your company, you will need to focus on strategic issues and point to the return on investment of your restaurant.

Seeking funding or regulatory approval (funding from a regulatory body)

To obtain funding from a regulatory body, you will need to focus more specifically on the conditions issued by them. Make sure you meet all the conditions. Each authority will put forward specific criteria which must be met.

Looking for an acceptance of my offer (raise funds)

If you are looking to raise funds, you should insist on the quality of your management.

Looking for help in managing my business

As part of a search for help in the management of your business, clearly define your objectives. Focus on non-financial issues, such as management aspects. You will have to define all the objectives of your restaurant but also for each of the different services.

Write Your Business Plan

Always write your business plan with your target audience in mind. This will condition the language used. There are no precise rules for building a business plan, but certain information must still be included:

The executive summary: this presentation is there to sell your project and make your target want to take a deeper dive in it. The interlocutor must quickly understand the main points but also want to continue reading.

The team: in this part, you will have to introduce yourself and your team. Try to value experiences and highlight the expertise of your team. Emphasize the synergy of the team and its ability to successfully complete your future restaurant.

General presentation of the project: Where does your idea come from? Why did you start this project? What are your goals?

The detailed description of the future restaurant: You will explain in detail the concept of your restaurant, the decoration, its geographical location, etc.
Also clearly indicate the means by which the operation is envisaged.  Potential customers; the number of staff planned and each of their tasks; your organization; the legal, social and fiscal status you have planned.

Your restaurant will also have to account for the economic environment of your restaurant: the customers you want to reach, the competition, direct and indirect, the market share you plan to take in your sector.

Your commercial strategy: the menu, the type of cuisine, the services provided to customers (parking, valet parking, games for children, swimming pool, etc.), the main suppliers, the price range in relation to the services provided.

There are several online tools that will help you write your business plan. For example, melba will allow you to prepare your menu and quickly calculate your profitability.

3. Training to Successfully Open Your Restaurant

Even if it is quite possible to open a restaurant without a diploma, it should be taken into account that some training is compulsory. This the case for :

  • the operating license
  • training in good hygiene practices for people handling food
  • the license to sell alcoholic beverages at night

At the same time, many training courses will allow you to acquire business knowledge more quickly, but also to lay solid foundations for your future establishment. These courses, of varying lengths, can be provided by the State but also by private organizations.

Mandatory Training

The Operating License

Any manager of an establishment (bar or restaurant) distributing alcoholic beverages must hold a license subject to conditions. This training is not free and lasts 2 and a half days. At the end of this training, you will be issued with an operating license valid for 10 years.

→ To discover the list of organizations offering this training, visit the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

Training in good hygiene practices for people handling food

This training is compulsory for any person working in an establishment handling food. At least one person in your establishment must have completed this training. You can train your employees directly or call on an outside organization.

The license to sell Alcoholic beverages at night

The Night Alcoholic Beverage License allows you to sell alcohol to be consumed on site between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. This training lasts 7 hours and can be delivered online.

4. Aid and Subsidies

There are a large number of aids and subsidies to know before you open your restaurant. Your status often determines which ones you are eligible for. Many grants are also determined by your location, your age, etc.

Regional and Departmental Aid

The region or department, where you are located, influences the assistance available to you. They are free to choose the aid scheme they grant. The local authorities allocate aid in the form of:

  • loans
  • grants
  • interest subsidies

Aid for Employees

If you are an employee and you fear that your restaurant opening project will not be a success, you can claim aid such as the CIF or a business creation leave. These aids will allow you to move forward on your project with peace of mind .


Crowdfunding can be a good alternative to "traditional" financing. This consists of presenting your project on online platforms in order to raise funds. Many restaurants have opted for this method in order to launch their establishment.

5. Administrative Procedures

Business Creation Formalities

The formalities for starting a business have been significantly simplified compared to a few years ago. The administrative formalities consists of declaring your activity and requesting your registration:

  • at the SIRENE directory held by INSEE.
  • at the trade and companies register
  • at the directory of trades

These procedures are carried out via the business formalities center (CFE). This organization takes care of all the elements in your file and transmits them to the various organizations involved in the creation of your business. At the end of this process, you will receive: your Siren number, one or more Siret numbers as well as an APE activity code (main activity carried out).

Additional Formalities

  • Insurance: It is important to assess your risks. Know that it is often very important to insure your professional civil liability.
  • Membership of an inter-professional fund: It is compulsory after 3 months to join an inter-professional fund.
  • Also remember to open a professional phone line and report yourself to the post office.

Before embarking on the opening of a restaurant, the choice of your legal status will be important. This choice will have to be made according to several parameters: level of taxation, level of capital required, level of personal risk, etc.

6. Identify HR Needs and Recruit Qualified Staff

Staff is one of the biggest expense items in a restaurant (at least 25% of the expense). However, your employees are also one of your greatest competitive advantages and have a huge impact on your strategy and ultimately on your profitability.

The recruitment stage should not be done in a hurry. The time you invest in recruiting your future employees will be an asset for your future gains.

Many softwares now offer to help you during the recruitment stage. If you need support, these softwares can be useful!

Define the Need

Before you jump headlong into the recruitment of your future employees, start by identifying your needs. For that, it is necessary to know and understand the nature and structure of a brigade.

In a brigade, each employee has a very specific function. The constitution of your brigade will depend on your establishment and its specificities. There is no one type of organization to favor, your brigade must meet the needs of your restaurant.

Then assess your needs by asking yourself the right questions:

  • what tasks do you need someone for?
  • can you do without this recruitment?
  • are there other solutions (internal, interim, reorganization of work...)

The job description is one of the keys to success. It allows you to define your expectations and, to impose the same rigor and framework for the different people you will see in an interview.

This sheet is divided into 3 parts:

The responsibilities of the role: Here, it's about defining the essence of the job. For example, for a team leader, you could write "Coaching a team of restaurant workers by ensuring their success." The description should b clear, concise and precise.

Expected results: Determine what you expect from your future employees. For example "Set up processes to act as intermediary between management and team members". Find between 3 to 7 expected outcomes.

⚠️ Expectations must obviously present a challenge for your future employees, but they must remain attainable.

Skills: Define the skills you expect from a candidate to fit the role perfectly.

Set the Salary

Now that you have defined your needs and established the profile of the expected candidates, you need to set a salary range. The remuneration of an employee can be made up of a basic salary and supplements to this salary. The basic salary is neither more nor less than the remuneration paid for the work of an employee. Salary supplements can take different forms (tips, accommodation, food, etc.).

You have the right to set the base salary freely, while respecting:

The amount of the SMIC (growth-indexed minimum wage)

The SMIC is the minimum wage below which no employee can be paid. Please note, the minimum wage applies to each person, even if the contract allows a commission fee.

The Collective Agreement

The collective agreement for hotels, cafes and restaurants (HCR), offers a framework dealing with the working conditions of employees and their social guarantees. The HCR collective agreement defines the jobs, classifies them and can associate each of them with a guaranteed minimum wage, the amount of which is more favorable than the minimum wage. The employer who is subject to it must respect this guaranteed minimum wage. The collective agreement also sets out to regulate overtime, trial periods for hiring, severance pay, etc.

Provisions applicable to overtime

Any hour worked beyond the legal weekly duration, or the duration considered as equivalent, constitutes as an additional hour. These hours are eligible for compensation.

If you have no idea of ​​the average compensation applied for each position, you can get information from colleagues with a structure similar to yours. You can also go to job boards and compare the salaries offered.

7. Equip Your Kitchen

Choose the Right Type of Energy

Gas or Electricity? You will have to make your choice in the type of energy you want to use for your restaurant. Gas is traditionally the norm in restaurant kitchens, however, there has been a breakthrough in electricity in recent years, thanks to induction.

City gas

City gas is still the preferred energy for restaurateurs. In addition, there is a wide variety of large gas cooking equipment available. One of the problems with the use of city gas is ventilation. It will be necessary to invest in efficient ventilation to ensure proper evacuation of the burnt gases.


Propane offers almost the same conditions of use as city gas, however, its installation makes it a scarce energy. Propane is only used very rarely, often in fairly complex geographic situations.


Electricity is one of the fastest growing energies. The equipment is more and more efficient. Thanks to induction, electricity now guarantees great precision in cooking management. You still have to be careful because the price of small cooking equipment can often be much higher in comparison with other energies.

Cooking Equipment

To get started in purchasing your future cooking equipment, start by making a list of your different needs. The list greatly depends on the specificities of your restaurant.

There are still essentials: cooking and preparation equipment, to cook your meals quickly and precisely; refrigeration equipment to keep your food fresh and in good condition; cleaning equipment to ensure the hygiene of your utensils... The list is long and it is sometimes difficult to navigate through the multitude of equipment for your kitchen .

We strongly advise you to contact a CHR professional . The materials you find will very often have a higher quality of life than the mainstream materials. One of the other advantages is also safety. This type of material is suitable for professional use.

8. Communicating Your Restaurant Opening

Use the SMART methodology to set your goals

Before embarking on a new project, it is always essential to set goals. It's the same thing for a communication plan as part of the opening of your restaurant. One of the proven methodologies in this area is the SMART methodology.

How to formulate a SMART goal?


Your goal should be clear and precise. The more you specify what you are trying to achieve, the more you will be able to deploy the means necessary to accomplish it.

Ex: "I want to increase the traffic on my restaurant site by 50% in one year!" "


The objective must also be quantifiable. This is essential to ensure that your goal has been achieved. If this has not been reached, you will also be able to measure the difference between your initial objective and the result obtained.


Setting a goal that is far too ambitious will drain your resources and demotivate you.


Why your goal must be more realistic, than those you have reached, to define guidelines

Temporally Defined

The goal should have an end date to define if it was reached within the allocated time.

Determine Your Buyers Personas

By creating buyer personas, you will be able to define what your typical customers look like and make your strategy more effective.

  • Fill in the demographic information of your future customers.

To determine your clients, start by filling in the demographic information of your future customers.

  • Share what you have learned about the motivations of your personas.

Present the motivations of your personas. What are they looking for? What are their desires? How can your restaurant meet their needs?

  • Include real quotes

Include real quotes and create a list of objections you can prepare to respond to.

  • Create messages for your personas

By preparing messages tailored to each of your personas, you will be able to deliver the right message at each point of contact.

Define the Channels on Which You Can Reach Your Audience


The website is still, in the minds of many people, one of the most trusted platforms for finding restaurant information. Uses have changed a lot, and mobile browsing now represents more than 50% of web traffic. Your site must, therefore, be optimized for mobile to ensure that your visitors don't leave without having succeeded in obtaining the information they were looking for.

Social networks

80% of customers would search for the establishment they want to visit on the internet. Several solutions are available to them: google, online directories (Tripadvisor, Lafourchette...), but also social networks. These are essential showcases to boost your visibility. The news feed of your prospects will generally be swamped with information, so it will be necessary to put in place an effective content strategy to be visible.


Email remains one of the most efficient communication channels. It is one of the channels with the best return on investment (ROI). However, you must try out some of these best practices to engage your target effectively.


Opening a blog where you will write articles, related to your business, will allow you to improve your SEO strategy . If this work is done on a regular basis and with a focus on writing about topics that your clients are really interested in, chances are your ROI will be significant.


The return rate for a flyer distribution operation is generally quite low (around 0.1%). For this type of operation to be profitable, it is imperative to play on repetition and quantity.

Opening a Restaurant

Profitability calculation for your business plan, preparation of your card, global management to start with confidence...
Open with Confidence