Restaurant Start-Up

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Restaurant or Bar Dream? Make Your Move

Restaurant or Bar Dream? Make Your Move

by David Klemt

Chess pieces on a chessboard

If your dream is to open a restaurant, bar or nightclub, you’re not doing yourself any favors by waiting to make it a reality.

The same goes for starting up any other type of hospitality business.

We’re in uncharted territory and things seem unstable. But waiting to move forward with your concept is setting you back.

Industry Challenges

We can all agree that the destruction wrought upon the hospitality industry in 2020 continues to be felt today.

Tens of thousands of business closures. Millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue lost.

Some experts say the veteran operators and workers won’t be back. The financial damage and psychological trauma will drive them out of the industry. Others disagree, myself included, saying those operators won’t stay down for long. This industry works its way into people’s blood.

The pandemic is responsible for the permanent or long-term closure of nearly 20 percent of restaurants in America. Most of the restaurants lost were well-established operations. The industry is down 2.5 million jobs that it will take years to recover.

Since March of last year, Canada has seen the closure of 10,000 restaurants. The country is facing the loss of 800,000 industry jobs.

Waiting to open a restaurant or bar, therefore, seems to make sense. Only no, it doesn’t.

Don’t Wait

Time is rarely on anyone’s side. And I’m not the first to say that perfection is an illusion. Our industry would be a fraction of what it is if people chose to wait for the “perfect time” to open.

That doesn’t mean it’s great to throw caution—and hundreds of thousands of dollars—to the wind.

Rather, those with a vision for a business in this industry owe it to themselves to move forward.

Let me put it this way: If you have an idea but you’re waiting for “the right time,” you’re already behind.

Forward Progress

The key is being strategic, making calculated decisions.

There are operators who successfully opened new concepts in the midst of the pandemic. We’re going to see new entrants in this industry this year as well. Will you be among them?

Maybe you’re not ready to break ground or sign a lease. Perhaps you’re not ready to send in a crew to renovate a space.

However, there are crucial moves you can make so that when you’re ready ready, you can move quickly. Think agility.

Will you be applying for a grant to fund part of your business? Complete the paperwork and submit it now.

Do you need a consultant? Do your research now and schedule those conversations.

You need demographic, feasibility and other studies done. Will you do them? Will you retain the services of an industry researcher?

If you’re not yet ready, take meaningful steps today because your future competitors are making their moves. It takes longer than you think for each crucial step to be completed, and there are dozens.

Your concept won’t become a reality if it only lives in your head. Don’t watch your opportunity to thrive in this industry pass you by.

Image: Kei Scampa from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Container Kitchens: The New Footprint

Container Kitchens: The New Footprint

by David Klemt

Make My Ghost Kitchen container exterior

Would it be a surprise to anyone after the past twelve months that shipping containers may be the new commercial kitchens?

According to two 2021 Restaurants Canada Show panelists, custom containers are the future.

A partnership between a builder and designer is providing restaurateurs with an intriguing solution.

Meet the Problem Solvers

Jonathan Auger is the president of Juiceworks Exhibits. The company operates out of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Juiceworks designs, engineers, and fabricates memorable exhibits and installations. Click here to view projects for clients such as Genesis, Infiniti and Volvo.

Nicholas Goddard is the founder of Portage Design Group, located in Toronto.

Portage specializes in interior design and offers a full suite of services, including research, sophisticated design, and construction management. The company’s restaurant design work can be seen here.

Together with a small but skilled team, Auger and Goddard have formed Make My Ghost Kitchen.

Custom Container Flexibility

In some cases, a smaller restaurant footprint is attractive to operators. This is due in part to guest behavior we’ve seen since 2020. That is, guests haven’t been able to or felt comfortable with dining indoors at restaurants.

Then, of course, there’s the cost factor. A smaller footprint, generally speaking, equals lower initial investment and rent. An operator with a new concept can use a container before investing in a brick-and-mortar location.

Other benefits relate to market testing; expansion; virtual and ghost kitchen operations; and delivery and pickup.

Operators looking to expand or add retail, along with QSRs, are showing interest in Make My Ghost Kitchen’s containers. One explanation for the interest is simple: containers are highly mobile.

An operator sends their kitted out container to a potential market. They open up shop and test the viability of their concept. If the reaction is less than desirable, they move the container to another market.

For example, one client set up a container complete with a delivery window. In just six hours they sold 3,600 burgers.

Custom Container Costs

Make My Ghost Kitchen’s custom containers come with the necessary equipment. They also feature a delivery window and fabricated with a small pickup vestibule.

Obviously, prices go up with the quality of equipment. Other customizations, it stands to reason, can also push container costs up.

On average, however, Auger says an eight-foot by 20-foot container can be had for as low as $20 per square foot. Prices can climb north of $50 to $75 per square foot, however.

Whether functioning as a ghost kitchen or marketing showpiece, operators can choose from ventilation solutions. The containers can vent to interior (which heats them up quickly) or exterior. Another cost to consider is water. If a municipality doesn’t grant access to their water it will need to be trucked in.

Finally, a custom-kitted kitchen can be an asset. If an operator decides it’s time to move on, they have the potential to sell their container.

Image: Make My Ghost Kitchen

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Kitchen Showdown: Virtual vs. Ghost

Kitchen Showdown: Virtual vs. Ghost

by David Klemt

Person ordering Uber Eats

The lines between virtual and ghost kitchens are growing increasingly blurry as they rise in popularity.

The terms aren’t interchangeable—they’re separate concepts.

Let’s snap the two into focus so operators can decide for themselves which, if either, is for them.

Virtual Kitchen

A virtual kitchen or virtual restaurant supports a brick-and-mortar concept. This includes food trucks.

Standard process is as follows:

  • A concept in a certain category seeks to expand their menu options without diluting or otherwise damaging their brand.
  • They create new menu items and sometimes a new brand.
  • Their existing kitchen or kitchens create these new items, which are online- and delivery-only.

A virtual kitchen has a brick-and-mortar location in a technical sense, but the brand’s existence is essentially digital as far as consumers know.

Ghost Kitchen

These facilities are delivery-only and commonly produce virtual brands’ items, which is a possible source of the confusion surrounding ghost and virtual kitchens. A truly virtual brand is only available online, either via its own ordering site or a delivery app—it has no brick-and-mortar location of its own.

We’ve known since the Chicken Wars first started that chicken sells, apparently in all forms. Several virtual brands, largely focused on wings and sandwiches, are succeeding with the help of ghost kitchens.

However, ghost kitchens also rent themselves out to or otherwise enter into contracts with third-party concepts with brick-and-mortar locations of their own to produce their delivery menu items.

The explosive rise of delivery is driving investment in ghost kitchens (former Uber executive Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens is an excellent example). It’s also the reason that so many industry experts and speculators declare ghosts “the future of restaurants.”

Not the Same

This quick rundown should clarify the differences between virtual kitchens and ghosts. Their missions may be similar but their operations are not.

Image: Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Meet Customers Where They Are

Meet Customers Where They Are

by David Klemt

Suburban community

If news stories are to be believed, Americans are fleeing big, expensive cities en masse.

Are those stories accurate or examples of sensationalism?

Mass Exodus?

The pandemic is, without any doubt, reshaping the United States. It is, in fact, transforming any nation on which it has gained a significant foothold.

Several sources claim that a mass exodus to the suburbs and rural towns is taking shape across America.

The authors of these stories often cite survey results, housing and rental price fluctuations, financial struggles and the cost of living in many cities, and anecdotal “evidence” to make their points.

On its face, just the argument that cities like Los Angeles and New York City are too expensive to live in with so many people struggling financially makes sense. And stories about astronomically high rent compared to square footage and median income in dense, expensive cities are commonplace.

Haute Exodus?

Still other stories tell tales of the wealthy migrating from major cities to “wait out” the pandemic.

Since wealthy people have the means, they’re able to leave densely populated areas for destinations with smaller populations. The logic being, the less people in an area, the lower risk of infection.

There are reports referring to NYC as a “ghost town” and describing San Francisco as a shell of its former densely-populated, well-heeled self.

Again, much of the reporting is supported by anecdotal and social media “evidence.”


Forbes, which has published articles supporting mass exodus claims and also disputing them, has made the argument that the situation is nuanced.

Eric Martel, a Forbes Councils Member, analyzed U-Haul Migration Index (UMI) and uncovered some interesting data. Martel finds that net migration in San Francisco and Los Angeles is lower—significantly so in LA—than it was in 2018. In NYC, net migration looks higher.

More reasonable conclusions regarding Americans and the pandemic seem to be:

  • Large numbers of people have moved out of some major cities. NYC seems to be a good example.
  • Some of the wealthy have temporarily left highly-populated cities, choosing to stay in places normally considered vacation destinations for longer periods of time.
  • People appear to be moving toward the outskirts of larger cities where rent and prices tend to be lower than that of city centers.
  • Suburbs near the outskirts of major cities appear to be popular migration targets.
  • Some of this “migration” is temporary, driven by the ability to work remotely. It’s likely that some people who have moved out of cities will return when they perceive things have returned to “normal.”


Jack Li, co-founder and CEO of Datassential, suggests operators check out so-called second-tier cities—Austin, Nashville and Charlotte, for example—and the areas where cities meet suburbs. The reasons are simple:

  • Innovation and food trends tend to start cities, reaching rural areas last. That means second-tier cities, city outskirts, and suburbs are quicker to embrace trends and innovations. (Location.)
  • Less-expensive commercial real estate prices. (Cost.)
  • Potential increase in the number of families. (Customer density.)
  • Potential increase in the number of seniors with financial means. (Customer density.)

The impact the pandemic has had makes informed decisions that much more critical to success in this industry. Demographic and feasibility studies are more important now than ever.

Both are cornerstones of the KRG Hospitality approach, whether an operator has several years’ experience or is a neophyte. Click here to learn more about how KRG Hospitality can help you and your concept, click here to learn about KRG Momentum coaching, and click here to download the KRG 2021 Start-up Cost Guide & Checklist.

Image: The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels

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Introducing KRG Momentum

Introducing KRG Momentum

by David Klemt

Seeking an alternative to complete start-up planning and project management? The solution you’re looking for is KRG Momentum.

Just like every operator is unique, each project brings with it distinct challenges that require individual approaches and plans.

Some projects are already under way but need help moving forward. KRG Momentum gives these projects the help needed to cross the finish line and achieve long-term success.

What is Momentum?

Owning a hospitality business may look great on paper, but starting a hospitality business can be really quite stressful:

  • There are what seem to be endless hours of planning.
  • There are numerous third-parties involved.
  • There are often hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake.
  • There are over 500 unique tasks to complete.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first, fifth, or twentieth project—it’s crucial that you be both prepared and organized when opening a new concept or expanding operations.

However, not every project requires our full suite of targeted solutions, which includes feasibility studies, conceptual planning, business planning, brand development, guest experience strategies, food & beverage programs, and operational assessments.

If you’re beyond the idea stage but find your project is struggling to reach the finish line, we’re here to help. And just like a project in its earliest days, you’ll receive the unique, fully customized KRG treatment.

Is Momentum the Solution for You?

KRG Momentum provides a unique, coaching-style program that helps your start-up make continual forward progress:

  • Receive a dedicated consultant who will be an approachable advisor for you and your project. They’ll review and navigate your start-up questions and challenges, and be your compass to provide you with a clear path towards a successful opening.
  • Weekly 1-on-1 video/phone sessions with access to a private calendar: a weekly session in which we evaluate the past week and define required actions for the next week with a focus on budgets, timelines, and industry-specific consulting.
  • Your dedicated consultant is also available for second opinions and the review of: key documents, location, concept, branding, layouts, equipment, menu, service, technology, labor and financial optimization, system development, operations, marketing, and overall strategic clarity.
  • Your consultant will help you see the blind spots throughout your project, positioning you to maintain your budget and desired opening date.
  • Your consultant will help you make strong, educated decisions throughout your start-up project that will have a positive impact on the successful start of your restaurant, bar or hospitality brand.
  • And finally, your advisor will coach you so you become more confident, energized, and motivated about your opening while holding you accountable and helping you become a better leader through the creation of new habits, communication methods, and decision-making processes.

Click here to schedule a call.

Or, if you’re looking for a more hands-on approach where we develop the winning plans and property for and with you, we invite you to learn more by choosing your preferred option: Restaurants & Cafes, Bars & Lounges, Boutique Hotel & Resorts, or Golf, Gaming & Entertainment.

Images: KRG Hospitality

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The 2021 Restaurant Start-Up Cost Guide & Checklist is Here! Download Today

The 2021 Restaurant Start-Up Cost Guide & Checklist is Here! Download Today

by David Klemt

This guide gives anyone starting a restaurant, bar, brewpub or other F&B venue the best chance for success in 2021.

Hospitality has endured a nearly endless thrashing for almost an entire year. The calendar has ticked over to 2021 but still, the pummeling doesn’t have an end date.

However, the industry has endured and continues to do so. We don’t know when Covid-19 will cease presenting a threat but we know this: there’s no end to the fight in those in the hospitality community.

Veteran and neophyte owners and operators are still going to open new venues in 2021, pandemic be damned. That fact means it’s more crucial than ever before that owners are positioned for success.

The KRG Hospitality 2021 Restaurant Start-Up Cost Guide & Checklist aims to structure the process of opening a restaurant or bar to maximize an owner’s opportunity. The guide contains 2021 start-up costs, renovation costs, scaled costs, an in-depth milestone checklist, and more that will help readers understand the process and keep them on track to go from concept to opening doors as smoothly as possible.

Click here to download the guide and start down the path of restaurant or bar success today.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Make Your Restaurant Concept ABSURᗡ in 2021

Make Your Restaurant Concept ABSURᗡ in 2021

by David Klemt

Those seeking new restaurant opportunities in 2021 should give serious consideration to Absurd! Kitchen Co., KRG Hospitality’s unique turnkey QSR.

Development of the concept was motivated by the realization that operators need to continue to pivot to survive the pandemic and thrive in a post-pandemic world.

“At KRG Hospitality, we immediately pivoted in March 2020 into ‘rescue mode,’ understanding the immediate needs of so many independent operators,” says Doug Radkey, president of KRG Hospitality.

Moving forward into 2021, guests will be more concerned health, safety and their comfort than ever before. Absurd! was developed as a response to heightened guest expectations and to create a path forward for operators in the post-Covid-19 era. Not only is the concept forward-looking, it’s designed for turnkey operation.

Restaurant guests were growing accustomed to the convenience of frictionless ordering, pick-up and delivery. Lock downs, restrictions, and health and safety concerns have pushed delivery and pickup closer to the forefront of guest expectation. Absurd! leverages the latest in technology and utilizes a subscription element to reward loyalty while offering a convenient and safe QSR experience.

In the new era of restaurant operation we can expect guests to be less tolerant of waiting in lines. Multiple publications have published articles hypothesizing that the Covid-19 pandemic we lead to the end of waiting. Considering the importance of social distancing and how commonplace curbside pickup has become, it’s understandable that many guests have developed a preference for speedy, safe service.

Equally understandable is a guest wishing to keep interactions with other people to a minimum. The ability to peruse a menu via QR code or pay their bill using their own device has offered a level of comfort to guests during the pandemic. It’s logical to believe these guest habits are here to stay.

At Absurd! locations there are no traditional lines. By design, there’s no contact between guests and staff. Guests interact with a location via designated pick-up or drive-through areas. In the pick-up area, guests access food-safe storage units through their mobile devices to grab their orders. The drive-throughs only serve delivery drivers or those who have placed pre-orders. Convenient, safe, time-saving restaurant features for a post-pandemic world.

Absurd! cuisine is inspired by Southern flavors and dishes such as loaded chicken strips, fried waffle sticks, breakfast bowls, and sandwiches. There are options for the full range of dietary needs and preferences, such as dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan meat alternatives. Along with a competitive, high-quality menu, KRG Hospitality has developed a retail offerings that include branded dry spices and meal kits, leveraging another trend that has seen significant growth during the pandemic. The concept’s packaging is sustainable, and adding a food truck can expand an Absurd! operation’s reach.

“Approximately 85 percent of the food menu will be prepared on-site, including the seasoning mix and ‘dredge’ for the fried chicken, which is intended to also be gluten-free and dairy-free,” says Radkey. “The brand is able to accomplish this by maintaining a small but robust and strategic menu mix over the breakfast, lunch, and dinner day-parts. Other food items such as the chile cornbread, breakfast biscuits, and sandwich buns will be sourced through regional partnerships.”

While developing Absurd!, KRG has created a loyalty program to go along with it that’s relevant to today’s guest preferences and consumer habits. Loyalty programs have made the news lately, with attention being paid to how they’ve been changing for the past couple of years. Tech has emerged as a driver for such programs, combining guest data and personalized digital interactions to increase loyalty. However, creativity is a crucial element as well. Recognizing the value of a unique but easily understood loyalty program that offers an attractive value proposition, KRG’s approach for Absurd! is a beverage-based subscription service.

“With a low monthly cost of approximately $8.99 USD per month, the Absurd! beverage subscription program, which is optional, gives the brand an easy way to attract customers and convince them to change their traditional F&B ordering habits while building a strong base of loyalty (and data),” says Radkey. “Consumers today are accustomed to low-cost monthly subscriptions. Therefore, we think it is time for restaurants to tap into that opportunity. The ‘unlimited drinks’ within this program include coffee, iced tea, lemonade, and an assortment of flavored soda waters.”

Absurd! Kitchen Co. isn’t unique for the sake of being different. First and foremost, the concept was designed for experienced and new operators alike so they can thrive in the new era of hospitality. The dedication of KRG Hospitality to helping operators flourish with concepts that are scalable, sustainable, profitable, memorable and consistent is ingrained in Absurd’s DNA.

The concept is a recession- and pandemic-proof QSR that doesn’t rely heavy upon day-to-day involvement by the owners, making it ideal for operators of any level, from the neophyte to the experienced hospitality group.

Click here to learn more about Absurd! and visit to download this turnkey concept’s information packet.

Image: KRG Hospitality

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Your Media Strategy Ready for Launch

How to Get Your Media Strategy Ready for Launch

Originally Posted on Typsy – By Doug Radkey 10/02/2018

The development of a restaurant can be extremely daunting with its many moving parts and it’s easy to miss crucial start-up strategies within the mix of it all.

One you don’t want to overlook is your intended media launch strategy. Today, the word ‘media’ means so much more than your local newspaper outlet.

The worst thing you can do is start your marketing and promotional campaigns one week before opening or simply expect a Field of Dreams “if you build it, they will come” type of scenario to work.

Hint: it doesn’t!

A successful restaurant launch includes building plenty of buzz for the three-four months leading up to the opening. It also means developing what we call a communications strategy to deal with the variety of media outlets both before and after opening.

A strong communications strategy will prepare you for the most effective social, digital, and community-related marketing tools in relation with targeted media partnerships which will then target your specified audience across a multitude of touch-points.

Aside from the established chain restaurants, many aspiring and independent restaurateurs do not have the budget for their own in-house marketing team (or outsourcing an award-winning agency). And that’s okay. In order to be fully present within your community both before and after opening, restaurateurs just need to ensure they have the necessary marketing plans in place.

This means projecting the right voice to attract the right audience. This also means determining the tone of your content, the nature of your interaction, and the overall approach to your brands messaging.

It also means knowing how to handle any third party media attention before and after opening.

To develop an effective communications strategy – you want to focus on three key areas: your social media, your public relations, and your direct-to-consumer channels. Let’s have a look at each.

Social Media

Within both your marketing and communications plan, you firstwant to develop a social media strategy. There is no getting around this today. Use plenty of simple, cost-effective strategies in the weeks prior to opening to create the buzz you want (and need). These methods will also maximize exposure (to both the public and other media outlets) in addition to early revenue opportunities during what’s known as your ‘honeymoon period’ – the first three months of operating.

This includes developing and/or executing on:

  • Social media channels, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, that your target audience actually uses each and every day
  • The development of strategic monthly content calendars for each social channel
  • The creation of social media contests and sales-driven promotions
  • Social media paid-advertising campaigns to further build your targeted community
  • Digital marketing partnerships where you can leverage both social media and email marketing
  • Food and beverage photography and videography strategies to enhance your visuals

It’s not easy building an online community from scratch. Your social media presence must have a strategy behind it – not a ‘spray and pray’ method of posting a food photo and hoping your target market will engage with it. It is imperative that you’re consistent, unique, and strategic. You also want to build digital partnerships that will help you successfully piggy-back on another’s already built social media community.

Public Relations

Leading up to the opening and for the first one-to-two months after – you want to build strong relations with your local media partners. Pairing this with a strong social media strategy is crucial in developing the awareness you need to get a head start in generating revenue.

You want to consider the following methods:

  • The development of your key brand messages to create consistency and reduce confusion
  • The creation, management, and distribution of press materials including a press kit, fact sheets, press releases, and owner/chef biographies
  • The development of a targeted media list – online, print, and broadcast. Know beforehand who you want and don’t want to associate throughout your local media. Don’t waste time meeting with media outlets that don’t have the same target audience as you do
  • Partnering with key influencers (bloggers) and tastemakers (farmers, breweries, wineries, and other key suppliers to your restaurant)
  • The identification and training of your start-up brand ambassadors; this includes ownership, management, and other priority personnel

At a minimum, you want to send out press releases and contact your local restaurant bloggers, podcasters, food critics, and social media influencers. Engage with your local industry dignitaries on social media and then inform them of your newly developed restaurant. Create an invite only event either before or during your soft opening to maximize on their value and to amplify your story.


To tie all of your social media and public relations together to create a winning communications strategy, you want to include a variety of direct-to-consumer campaigns throughout the first 30-90 days of opening.

You want to ensure your target market is seeing your brand across a variety of channels. Pending your choice of concept – you want to entice them to visit your venue approximately three times before the end of your honeymoon period.

You can achieve this by creating the emotion that your target audience is going to miss out on the hottest new restaurant in town (FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out). You can do this by creating the following:

  • A variety of menu tasting and beverage pairing events
  • Direct mail marketing campaigns to targeted hyper-local neighborhoods
  • Community marketing outreach and partnership opportunities (events, donations, and sponsorships)
  • Site sampling and street activations by personally taking food samples and marketing material to local businesses (using your developed brand ambassador strategy)
  • In-house return visit campaigns that measure the return-frequency of customers

How will you reach the maximum number of targeted customers with the least amount of spending to maximize your return-on-investment? How will you plan to be memorable and stand out from the competition as time goes on? Start early and be creative, imaginative, and bold in all of your efforts while being prepared to handle social media, public relations, and direct-to-consumer strategies.

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The Ultimate Checklist for Restaurants

The Ultimate Opening Day Checklist for Restaurants

Originally Posted on Typsy – By Doug Radkey 08/06/2018

Before opening your doors to the public, there is an enormous and often overwhelming list of both tasks and strategic milestones to first complete.

This list traditionally starts 3-6 months (sometimes even more) prior to opening day. 

In this industry, there is never a ‘one-size fits all’ approach, but there are some general guidelines to follow, that any seasoned restaurateur will likely agree with, no matter if it’s a 3 month or 6 month project.

Your opening day checklist shouldn’t just be a piece of paper either, it is ideal to hold weekly meetings throughout the start-up phase and consider using an online project management dashboard to promote effective communication within your entire start-up team.

Let’s have a look at a generic restaurant opening-day checklist with the appropriate time-frames that should be shared with all members of your opening day team.

Design and Build

Even prior to signing your lease, you should have a grasp of who your design and construction or renovation team will be. Don’t waste your time afterwards sourcing and negotiating – the clock is now ticking.

For many independent operators, this is often 120-180 days away from your projected opening day. This is also where having your feasibility study, concept development plan, and business plan will help speed up the process, positioning you to make strategic – business driven decisions.

During this period you should expect the following:

  • Completed schematic designs (engineer and architect related drawings)
  • Submission of drawings to local municipality for approvals
  • The hiring of your project/construction manager or foreman
  • Receive quotes for exhaust hood systems and any other customized concept specifics that may need additional lead time outside of 2.5-3 months.

The project manager should then put in place what is known as a ‘gantt chart’ indicating construction or renovation milestones. From there, the construction of your restaurant dictates the remainder of the schedule for concept and operational specifics. You should work backwards from that projected completion date, often 90 days, and by ideally adding 2-3 weeks for potential delays.

3 – 4 Months Out:

  • Apply for liquor license – if required
  • Finalize graphic designs and other branding initiatives
  • Secure both web and social domains
  • Order bar and kitchen equipment – order earlier for customized equipment
  • Order furniture for restaurant (tables, chairs, umbrellas etc.)
  • Order any additional millwork related pieces for your concept – earlier for customized ones
  • Develop vision, mission, value, and culture statements for your concept
  • Develop staff positions, specified roles, job descriptions, and wage structures
  • Prepare your operational strategies (marketing plans, training programs, onboard packages, staff policies, operational templates/checklists etc.)
  • Decide and finalize choice of operational vendors; cleaners, pest control, grease trap cleaners, exhaust hood cleaners, security, telecommunications etc.

60 Days Out:

  • Install exterior signage and execute first portion of marketing plan including social media launch
  • Create start-up menu and prepare your food and beverage supply chain management
  • Setup payroll structure with bookkeeper and all staff paperwork filing processes
  • Interview and onboard any key management (chef and/or general manager)
  • Decide and order small-wares for both the kitchen and bar area
  • Decide and order staff uniforms with any logo artwork or embroidery
  • Decide and order point-of-sale systems in addition to any sound, video, and digital menu boards
  • Cost out menu and prepare both menu covers, design, and engineering strategies
  • Review current construction status and milestones – adjust remainder of schedule as needed
  • Install (and test) all kitchen & bar equipment and organize all ordered small-wares
  • Interview and onboard remainder of your team leading up to 30 days to opening

30 Days Out:

  • Install point-of-sale system and merchant services for both testing and training
  • Finalize recipe booklet & menu cards with photos for both kitchen and bar area
  • Setup line and employee stations; walk-through menu, steps required, and adjust
  • Begin 1-2 weeks of training for all new hires focusing on operations, equipment, and service sequence
  • Order and organize all food and beverage for training, soft openings, and opening day
  • Execute 30 day marketing and media launch strategies to begin second phase of building buzz
  • Create staff schedules for the next two weeks of soft openings plus first week of opening
  • Construction should be nearing completion minus final touch-ups and inspections
  • Setup a preventative maintenance program for all equipment and create emergency contact list

14 Days Out:

  • Host a photo/video shoot for food, beverage, and interior for marketing purposes.
  • Host first week of soft openings – using a strategic list of invite only guests
  • Make tweaks to operations and service sequence by observing timing, traffic flow, and guest emotions

7 Days Out:

  • Execute final portion of start-up marketing, media, and promotions plan.
  • Host second (and often final) week of soft openings – using a strategic list of invite only guests
  • Finalize tweaks to operations and service sequence by observing timing, traffic flow, and guest emotions

Opening Day:

D-day has arrived. Are you ready? By now all the previous groundwork you’ve done should mean that you’re prepared to open your doors to the public. Just a few more things before you celebrate:

  • Ensure venue, both interior and exterior, is impeccably clean with no signs of construction
  • By completing both training and a two week soft opening – your team should be confident and well prepared for the first round of guests
  • Be calm, you got this! 

As you can see, there is so much that goes into an opening and one should not attempt to go about it alone. Starting a restaurant, whether ‘from scratch’ or by over-taking an already built establishment (and re-branding), is incredibly challenging.

But by being prepared with the appropriate plans and checklists, you’ll be opening your restaurant with success! 

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Bar Design 101

Bar Design 101

By Doug Radkey – 07/26/2018

There is truly a science to the design and layout of a winning bar. Outside of implementing a timeless interior, a bar needs to consider many factors including but not limited to; efficiency, hyper-local competition, and overall guest experiences – within its design elements.

Completing a bars ‘concept plan’ should be one of the first steps any aspiring bar owner should take. A concept plan will outline vision, value, mission, and culture statements plus its initial architectural, entertainment, and menu development characteristics (wishlist).

Once you’ve defined your concept, you can begin adding more heart and soul to the design and overall guest experience strategies; the back-bone to a memorable bar. Every component of the bars interior design, entertainment plan, and menu development process should enhance the guests’ overall senses (also known as emotions).

Here are items you can work on for your vision, prior to delivering a presentation to any designer, consultant, and/or architect.

Energizing the Space

Consider ways to not only maximize the space, but energize the space. What experiences can you deliver? Use this time to consider adding space for sound engineering, live music and/or DJ’s, interactive games, mix of televisions, and the right mix of socializing and networking opportunities.

Social Space

In today’s market-space, it is imperative that all newly designed bars (and restaurants) take into account social media, guest photos, and guest videos. Keeping the energized space in mind, how can you add space with the right lighting for taking group photos (with your branding in the background) in addition to taking videos and photos of cocktails and/or food.


The next focus needs to be on bar efficiency. Consider the size of establishment, guest capacity, and your point-of-sale requirements. Then add multiple bartender stations while choosing the correct equipment, bottle display, overhead glass racks (less breakage), and under-bar space plus the number of speed rails, ice stations, garnish stations, cutting boards, and sinks within a one pivot movement for each bartender. This will then determine the size of ‘bar’ required, which will assist in developing your budget (and beverage menu).

Kitchen Space

A winning bar will also have a memorable food program. Offering premium food and focused, high-quality beer, wine, & spirits is a recipe for maximum revenue potential in today’s market space. Ensure there is space for grills, flat-tops, deep fryers, burners, and a convection oven (or combi-oven) plus space for prep areas, freezers, and refrigeration to provide a quick (and profitable) food program.

Seating and Lighting

This will entirely depend on the chosen concept. Your choice of lighting and seating will determine length of stay, the amount of money a guest will spend, and how they will interact with guests in their party plus other guests at your bar. Every seat and light fixture must have a purpose. This is just as important as laying out the actual back-bar itself and should be discussed with designers, architects, and consultants.


Consistency through all design elements (interior, exterior, menus, website, social media, and other marketing collateral) is the final consideration piece. Look for ways to incorporate subtle additions of logo colors and branding throughout the venue. Where ever the guests will take the most pictures and videos, make sure there is a way that people will know they’re at your bar!

There are numerous other variables and details required, but starting with this will make you look like a pro when you meet with a designer by having a concept plan completed and a true vision of how you want your bar to be laid out. A professional designer should be able to then take your vision, tweak it to professional standards, and implement it into drawings that will ensure it meets local codes and your overall budget!