Starting a restaurant business in DC – all you need to know

Friends enjoying dinner at a restaurant.

Today we will be talking about starting a restaurant business in DC. While the prospect of launching a restaurant is thrilling, 60% of such businesses fail within the first year. Your company will need to distinguish out in Washington DC’s competitive market. There are many restaurants wherever you look and you need to do something to attract (and keep) your customers. Let’s take a look at what it takes to create a restaurant and build it the best it can be so that you have the best chance of success. We will also show you who can help you along the way. Starting a restaurant business (or any other business for that matter) is a difficult endeavor and you will be needing some additional help. Luckily we know all of this.

You will need a concept

The first and, arguably, the most enjoyable stage when starting a restaurant business in DC is deciding on a theme for your restaurant. What you want to provide and how you plan to serve it make up your restaurant’s idea. Do you, say, intend to launch a morning diner or mobile kitchen? Who would be your ideal diners and what kind of prices will you charge them?

It’s important to go as precise as possible at this stage because your restaurant’s idea will determine the food you serve and the clientele you attract. You can look into the most popular types of eateries expected to be popular in 2022 to get a sense of what kind of eatery you might like to operate. On the other hand, if you possess your own ideas, you should pursue them. Trends come and go quickly. It’s impossible to outlive a person with vision. Now you have to think about insurance.

A person ntaking a photo of the food at a restaurant.
What is your thing?

Funding is an unpleasant topic

It takes a lot of money to open a restaurant, with the average cost being $275,000. Some of the starting recurring costs include the following:

  • Security deposit
  • Legal fees (for business formation)
  • Equipment you will be needing (kitchen equipment for example)
  • Furniture like chairs, tables, etc, decoration, tableware, and such
  • POS system
  • Salaries for your employees
  • Marketing
  • Permits
  • Insurance

The majority of startup restaurant money comes from either small business loans or investors. Make absolutely sure you get a thorough business strategy and a budgeting spreadsheet ready to go before approaching investors. Lenders and investors will be able to see your profit strategy laid out in detail using this data.

The wow factor

Even if you have good food and great service, you will need something a bit more to stand out. Having good service and nice food is not enough in a place like DC. There are so many good restaurants wherever you look. You need something called “the wow factor” when starting a restaurant business in DC. For example, many successful restaurants are investing in entertainment as their wow factor. Some are adding stand-up comedy (but this is more appropriate for burger joints and such). Others like something fancy. Maybe you should add a piano and someone to play it for romantic evenings. That can be a nice touch and chances are you will attract more couples. If you are buying a piano, make sure to let experts handle it because transporting anything that big can be a nightmare.

A person playing the piano.
You need to be creative to attract customers.

Location, location, location

The most costly aspect of operating a restaurant is oftentimes the search for a suitable site. It also has a major role in determining whether or not your restaurant does well. There are a lot of factors to consider while choosing a place. The first is convenience for patrons in terms of getting to the store and finding parking. Your restaurant will not be successful if it is hard to get to or if there is not enough parking.

Consider your location in relation to other establishments as well. For instance, if your storefront is situated in a high-traffic shopping district, you might benefit from foot traffic generated by nearby stores.

Let’s talk about permits a little bit

There are federal, state, and local licenses and registrations that must be obtained before a restaurant may open for business. In order to ensure that you don’t skip any steps, it’s highly recommended that you retain legal representation. However, here’s a rundown of some of the licenses you’ll need:

  1. License to conduct business (business license) – You will need to obtain a business license before setting up a restaurant. The specifics of the procedure and associated costs are different for each state.
  2. To obtain a food service license, you will first need to undergo a food safety check conducted by the municipal health department.
  3. To legally offer alcoholic beverages in your eatery, you must first obtain a liquor license. It’s best to get started on this as quickly as possible because it could take a while.

That’s pretty much it. After you are done with all that and you find the right place your next step will be to call so they can help you to settle in your new premises and start your restaurant business in DC as soon as possible.

Tables set after starting a restaurant business in DC.
A liquor license is crucial.

You will do just fine

If you start planning as soon as possible, do your homework, and work on your food (and wow factor) chances are you will do just fine. It will take some time to get loyal customers but once you do that – you are golden. Our last piece of advice is to invest in marketing as much as you can. That can do wonders for your business.