Customer Success

The 12-Minute Guide to Opening a Restaurant in The UK

This guide is all you will need to consider while opening a restaurant, whether it is a cafe, dine-in or takeaway.

Thinking of opening a restaurant in the United Kingdom? Not sure where to begin? This 12-minute guide is all you will need to consider while opening a restaurant, whether it is a cafe, dine-in or takeaway -

1. Choose The Location Based On Your Audience

Chatting in a coffee shop

A good location makes or breaks a restaurant. If you are opening a dine-in restaurant or a takeaway, you must consider where your target segment is and then determine the location accordingly. Choosing an inappropriate location for your restaurant, such as a restaurant designed for teenagers around an office park, will never attract potential customers. In addition, your restaurant should be located in an area where it gets maximum visibility, should be easily accessible, and should have convenient parking so anyone can find it and not tucked away in a dark corner. If you are considering opening a cloud kitchen, considerations such as population density, per capita income, and disposable spending patterns should be considered before making a decision.

2. Design Your Menu with Care


The better you design your menu, the higher the chances that customers will choose your restaurant, and subsequently, choose to spend more at your establishment. You should make sure it matches the theme of your restaurant. Don't make your customers confused with complex menus they can't understand. Ensure that your menu is well written, descriptive, easy to read, and does not appear cluttered. Divide your dishes into clearly identified sections, highlight special dishes, and explain them in an eloquent way. Include allergy and dietary information where necessary. Keep your target audience in mind when designing your menu. You definitely don’t want to serve Burgers and Tacos if you are targeting people on a diet. To comply with the new taste preferences, you can also introduce vegetarianism, veganism, and flexitarianism options.

3. Don’t forget The Licenses And Documentation Needed To Open a Restaurant in the UK

When it comes to opening a restaurant, there is a fair amount of paperwork to be done so be prepared for some back and forth between the government bodies. The licenses that are needed are -
Food Business Registration
It is mandatory to register your food business with the local authority. Once you've registered your business, you will be visited by the Food Hygiene Agency for an inspection.
Food Premises Approval
If your restaurant has any non-veg items in the menu, you have to apply for Food Premises Approval and must be inspected by your local council in order to obtain the license.
Premises License
If you plan to sell alcohol or provide any other type of licensable service, you’ll need to obtain a Premises License.
Personal License
You must have a Personal License to sell alcohol which means every sale of alcohol is authorized under you.

4. Secure A Go-Ahead From Other Statutory Bodies

People signing documents for a wedding

When you plan to open a restaurant you have to get yourself registered with some statutory bodies as it is mandatory to cover legal and compensation costs in cases of mishaps. These include -
Employer’s Liability Insurance
It covers the legal costs of employees getting injured in the workplace.
Building's Insurance
It covers the cost of damage to the restaurant building and everything inside.
Public Liability Insurance
It covers the cost for instances when a customer goes sick or injures themselves in your restaurant premises.
Pest Control Regulations
You would have to abide by Pest Control Regulations in place to ensure pests are controlled and get it approved from the The Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations.
Food Hygiene Certificate
While it's not a legal requirement to have a food hygiene certificate, when it comes to handling food, this certificate will help to ensure your restaurant is a safe place to eat.
Covid-19 Restaurant Regulations
Make sure you're operating your restaurant in line with the latest Covid-19 rules for your area. Bear in mind that they differ from location to location.

5. Generate Buzz For Your Establishment Pre-Launch

I finally got my chance today to do a bit of reportage at London Fashion Week, where I witnessed a peaceful protest against London Fashion week, highlighting the cruel use of real fur in some of their clothes. This is a side of fashion no one talks about so it was good to be on the scene and be part of history.

If you are a smart marketer, you have already thought of the ways to promote your restaurant. Consider both online & traditional methods of marketing for your establishment. For offline marketing activities, you can try putting up hoardings, distributing pamphlets, free sampling and more. And for online marketing, create social media and web advertising campaigns, share the story of how your restaurant began, videos featuring your chefs talking about their specialty dishes, and highlight unique features that make your restaurant unique from the competition. This will help create a lot of anticipation and excitement among your customers.

6. Host An Opening Event To Grab Eyeballs

Why not host a grand opening for your restaurant? This event will introduce your restaurant to the local community, build a buzz and give you a chance to showcase your menu to your target audience and build relationships with them for a repeat business. Make sure you ask your guests for feedback so you can make the necessary changes to improve your restaurant business. You can even reach out to influencers to cover your restaurant's opening if you have a high budget. It's worth a shot!

7. Stay With The Times And Adapt Latest Technological Advancements

Technology enables your restaurant to offer a smooth and convenient experience to your customers. Not only does it give your customers a peaceful experience, it helps you improve table turn times, reduce labor costs, and better understand your customers with valuable data. Some of the digital tools whose use is rapidly growing in the UK and should be adopted by new restaurants are - EPOS systems, digital menu boards for kitchen staff, online table reservation systems, QR code menus, online ordering, POS system software, integration software and inventory management software.

8. Analyze Your Competition

Imagine how many restaurateurs are thinking the same way and are already in this market making money just like you. Therefore, choosing a location, designing a menu and promoting your restaurant will not suffice. You must also analyze your competition. The first step is to determine who your competitors are and what techniques they are using to increase sales. Further, invest in studying their menu and trying to make your menu different from them. Analyse their marketing strategies and tailor your plans accordingly.

9. Stand Out From Your Competitors

Photo shoot was cancelled today so I took my chess set to the studio to shoot various chess ideas..

It’s not enough to just research what your competitors are upto, you also have to create a strategy that positions you in a unique manner. Restaurants such as Ballie Ballerson Shoreditch and The Karczma have created an identity for themselves with their unique interiors and we all know how famous they are. Give your customers a ‘Wow Factor' which makes them talk about you. You can set up your restaurant’s ambience according to an unique theme or  design your menu entirely different from your competitors. Introduce appealing loyalty programs and offers, invite guest chefs and host local artists at your venue. Stand out in your community by helping those in need, cater a charity event or donate unused ingredients to a nearby shelter. Get original by supporting local businesses like dedicating your menu to local, organic ingredients. Did a local ice-cream parlor just open next door? Team up to offer your customers a free frozen dessert during their first week of business.

10. Learn From Reports Of Your Performance

You must have detailed reports of the number of sales occurring at your restaurant, the number of bills generated, the number of offers and discounts given, and more. Since you will have a detailed report of all your sales, including the highest selling items and the least wanted ones, you must accordingly consult the reports, and bring the required changes.

11. You Must Market Your Restaurant Well

Ironing out your strategy

A Restaurant owner needs to focus on their marketing strategies as much as they need to focus on their quality and operations. This is especially important in today’s time when the competition is sky-high. You can give discounts, special offers or customized birthday and anniversary offers for your customers. With the relevant customer data and their purchase pattern, you must stay at the top of the mind for your customers with constant communication via multiple channels.

12. Adapt Strong Accounting Methods

Most restaurants don’t have a professional Financial Accountant to keep a track of all their finances. As a result, a lot of restaurants fail to keep track of their daily expenses and income, inventory records and may make errors in tax calculations or have trouble while configuring discounts and offers. A big challenge in the restaurant industry is data reconciliation with online food delivery partners, inventory records, and more, and a strong accounting standard in your organization will help you avoid key errors.

We hope this 12-minute guide has helped you with everything you need to start your restaurant business in the United Kingdom. UrbanPiper has recently launched in the United Kingdom and has partnered with top aggregators such as Just Eat, Uber Eats, and Deliveroo to power restaurants across the country. Do reach out to us if you need to take your business to the next level.

Rituza Pradhan
Sales Marketing Manager

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