Is now a good time to open a restaurant? Whether you’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant or you see an opportunity to expand in your market, deciding when to take the plunge can be tough. There’s no denying that COVID-19 dramatically shook up the restaurant industry, especially for small, locally-owned businesses, yet there were still plenty of new restauranteurs who successfully entered the scene.
If you’re local to Louisville, KY, then you might be familiar with these local eateries that opened their doors in 2020:
- CASK Southern Kitchen & Bar
- Swizzle Dinner & Drinks
- La Bodeguita De Mima
- El Mundo opened their Highlands location
- Royal’s opened their Middletown (& J-Town!) locations
If you’re thinking about your business goals for the new year and opening a new restaurant makes it on the list, we recommend you start asking “How do I open a restaurant the right way this year?” Because it can be done. Opening a restaurant right now isn’t impossible, it’s just going to look a little different.
The Reality for the Food Industry
So many small businesses across the country are closing because of the pandemic. You don’t want to be one of them. Not joining the shutdowns, however, is going to require some creative thinking and a lot of patience.
With more people looking for local food options, it could actually be a very exciting time to open a new restaurant. As long as you expect the unexpected and are prepared for managing pandemic-related precautions and regulations in your establishment.
Regulations & Safety Guidelines of a New Restaurant
One of the most important factors for all current and future restaurants is to follow all of the regulations and guidelines set out by the CDC and your state. Following safety regulations keeps everyone in your business – employees and customers alike – healthy. And it keeps your doors open!
Go ahead and start brushing up on the different steps you will have to take as the owner of a food establishment by checking out this article by the FDA.
Design Your Eating Experience Accordingly
If you’re planning on opening a new dining experience there are things to consider that may have looked different pre-pandemic.
One thing veteran restauranteurs recommend is starting with a smaller menu comprised of dishes that are easy to make, sell well, and travel with little disruption. As restrictions ease up and diners become more consistent, then you can start adding items onto the menu.
After you’ve dreamed-up your menu, it’s time to consider seating. Many states, including Kentucky, have restricted indoor dining over the past year and capacity guidelines have varied. While they’re currently open (as of the writing of this article), it’s important to have a plan for multiple dining scenarios.
If you have the capabilities, providing a heated, socially distant, outdoor dining space allows for your patrons to get a full dining experience without being inside your building. If an outdoor space isn’t in the cards for you, however, you will want to make sure you are able to be fully operational as a take-out-only restaurant.
Whether you have seating available or not, your take-out sales will be particularly important during this time. Your dining experience can even cross over to how you package your food. Investing in quality take-out packaging and custom food labels can allow your patrons to associate you with a positive experience, even when they’re at home.
Think back to the places you’ve ordered from the past few months. Whose take-out sticks out in your mind? Either the food that got soggy and fell apart and the restaurant that did something clever to deliver an exceptional experience. Word to the wise, you want to be among the clever ones.
Restaurant branding is always important, but especially these days when a unique brand and presence will help you survive.
Social media and other outlets for digital marketing are going to be your friend. You want to get the word out and you want to get the word out well.
In times of increased takeout, your brand will shine through to your customers in more ways than just your storefront. Instead of focusing on etched pint glasses and specialty menus that may not see the light of day for a few more months, make sure your to-go packaging makes its own statement. An easy way to do this is with takeout labels specifically for your carryout and delivery orders.
If you’re just starting your restaurant venture, you’ve got a long way to go before packaging meals up for customers, but when the day does come, we’ll be here to help make sure your takeout stands out!
Louisville Label has all your to-go label packaging needs covered. We offer labels to seal packages, logo labels for to-go packages, labels with space to write order information in, and more. If you’re considering opening a restaurant, cafe, or food truck in the coming months, well-branded to-go packaging labels will be critical to serving customers and building brand awareness. Let Louisville Label come alongside you in this venture! Get a quote for to-go packaging labels today.