Opening a new business requires so many decisions, that there are bound to be a couple of slip-ups. Here are five common mistakes and how to avoid them!

1. Underestimating capital needs

There are many good new restaurants, with great prospects that run out of money. First-time owners can sometimes not properly take into account the startup costs involved in opening a restaurant. Examples include delays, construction overruns, additional costs mandated by local inspectors… Not to mention other costs like permits, pre-opening payroll, and liquor licenses. These costs can be underestimated or missed altogether. We recommend getting professional help to estimate the startup capital you will need.

2. Believing you’ll start making money on opening day

Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against this happening. It takes time to build sales volume to a decent level. Even with strong sales from opening, food and labor costs are high as the team gets comfortable and more productive. Not factoring in an adequate reserve for operational deficits after opening is another big mistake. Even well run chain restaurants factor into their startup budgets an allowance for funding operating deficits for 2–3 months. Once again, work with a professional on this to get a detailed idea of what you need to put aside, and what to expect.

3. Lack of documented systems, procedures and training manuals

Restaurant operations involve the repetition of hundreds and thousands of tasks. Therefore, organization and execution are key to a successful restaurant. Sometimes the owner may have a clear vision of what they want, but if it is not clearly identified on paper, it can be difficult to train employees accordingly and ensure everyone is on the same page and have a consistent level of service. Ensure that the appropriate systems and procedures are in place for every scenario to avoid lack of organization and ultimately sales. For example, when you have a waiter called in sick at the last minute, ensure your management knows how to deal with it and where to get last-minute staff. Staffy is here just for that!

4. Having the grand opening on opening day

You don’t want to get slammed on your first day being open because of declaring it your grand opening. There will still be kinks that need working out, and staff need to get comfortable and acclimatized. If you blow it on opening day, it’s likely you won’t see many of those guests again. Do a soft opening for a week or two, before declaring your grand opening.

5. Focusing on what YOU like

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that you don’t like asparagus and therefore doesn’t want to see it on the menu. Because you are not the customer. Find out what the people in your area want, and what price point they are comfortable with. Conducting surveys, talking to those in the community, or conducting focus groups are all great ways to achieve this.

Staffy is a staffing company that provides you with temporary on-demand restaurant and event staff within 90 minutes in Toronto, Vancouver and New York. Whether you need to hire a bartender, waiter or catering staff, Staffy has you covered! Learn more at


Lucy Cullen


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