Checklist for Opening a Restaurant

Creating a checklist for opening a restaurant is a helpful tool in the planning stages. A checklist can help you identify areas you haven't covered, make sure you've completed items you need to check off and ensure you're ready when you open the doors.

Restaurant Planning

  • Create a concept
  • Draft a menu
  • Pick a location
  • Write a business plan

Restaurant Paperwork
Financial Paperwork

  • Set up bank account
  • Merchant account
  • Payroll service
  • Obtain funding

Building Paperwork

  • Zoning paperwork
  • Building permits
  • Restaurant permits
  • Liquor license

Running a Restaurant

  • Business insurance
  • Worker's Compensation
  • Liability
  • Liquor bonds
  • Create employee manuals
  • Create application/hiring paperwork
  • Check federal and local staffing regulations for necessary paperwork
  • Comply with OSHA and federal signage and paperwork

Restaurant Creation

  • Comply with necessary regulations and building code requirements
  • Design front-of-house seating area
  • Design functional kitchen
  • Price construction and select a contractor
  • Create a construction schedule
  • Secure any remaining permits and construction-related paperwork
  • Build the restaurant
  • Install any code-required signage
  • Plan and build parking lot
  • Complete landscaping


  • Set up utilities
  • Purchase or lease kitchen equipment
  • Select dishes/flatware/service items
  • Select a linen service
  • Select and install POS system


  • Create security protocols
  • Hire a security service
  • Install a double-door safe
  • Plan a night drop
  • Re-key all locks after construction and before opening

Hire Staff

  • Set wages and hire staff
  • Chef
  • Cooks
  • Prep cooks
  • Bartenders
  • Waitstaff
  • Busboys
  • Dishwashers
  • Host/hostess
  • Management and supervisors
  • Certify ServSafe or other restaurant certification programs
  • Create and distribute employee manual
  • Determine review/raise/evaluation process

Restaurant Opening

  • Order pre-opening inventory
  • Establish ongoing inventory amounts and order process
  • Create inventory and ordering forms
  • Set up inventory in kitchen/prep space
  • Label and organize all inventory to comply with local, state and federal regulations


  • Create schedule
  • Train staff
  • Run practice openings (friends and family opening)
  • Organize sidework
  • Develop opening/closing checklists for kitchen and front of house
  • Run soft opening
  • Organize restaurant opening

Restaurant Marketing
Printed Materials

  • Graphic design/logo/colors/fonts
  • Menus
  • Business cards
  • Signs
  • Gift certificates
  • Letterhead


  • Develop advertising plan
  • Get a listing in the Yellow Pages
  • Utilize online resources
  • Create Web site
  • Get a listing with local business organizations
  • Invite newspapers/publications to restaurant
  • Create positive customer experience for good word-of-mouth restaurant marketing
  • Locate and monitor review Web sites for restaurant feedback 
Related Life123 Articles

Thinking about how to open a restaurant can be an intimidating prospect. Opening your own restaurant isn't for everyone, but thinking about the steps involved can help you decide if you're ready to take the plunge.

Think learning how to make a restaurant menu is easy? You will be surprised at how difficult it is, since you will need to consider not only your potential customers but also design and layout.

Frequently Asked Questions on
More Related Life123 Articles

By discovering how to open a coffee shop, you can help everyone rise and shine, and maybe make a little money at it, too.

Hoping to learn how to start a bakery business? While opening a bakery might seem easier than opening a restaurant, a bakery poses its own set of specific business challenges.

Curious how to open a bar? The road is a long one, filled with permits, paperwork and financial roadblocks. If you can overcome these roadblocks, though, you, too, can own your own bar.

© 2015 Life123, Inc. All rights reserved. An IAC Company