How to Start a Restaurant Business in London

New eBook Reveals How To Successfully Open A Restaurant… Free E-Book!

The restaurant industry in the UK has faced a slump due to the pandemic, creating havoc for many businesses. Many restaurants have shut down, leaving people unable to dine out.
However, as things return to normalcy, London is gaining its buzzing restaurant and dine-out culture back. Many small restaurants have popped up, each with its unique niche and specialities.

The reason these restaurants were able to get off the ground was years of meticulous planning both financially and strategically. If you’re an aspiring restaurant owner and need a primer of what to account for before opening a restaurant, you are at the right place.
This article will help you understand how to start a restaurant business in London. 

Restaurant Industry in London Currently

According to Statista, the UK’s restaurant industry is predicted to generate revenue of 35.55 US billion dollars by 2024. Currently, it employs around 988,000 people, making it a great source of opportunities and national revenue. 

It’s understandable that you might feel overwhelmed and hesitant about opening up your own restaurant. However, there are ways to manage that anxiety. Fret not as there are loads of opportunities and demand for dining out and restaurants in the near future. 

How to get your Restaurant Business off the Ground

Coming up with a Restaurant Idea

There may be many ideas brewing in your head regarding restaurants. Maybe a fusion eatery or probably Thai with an elaborate dessert menu is what you are aspiring for.

Make a mood board of whatever you are thinking. Come up with name options that shouldn’t include boring and drab titles. It should create curiosity among those who hear it for the first time. Talk to friends, go online to research if you must. 

Conducting Market Research is Key

Before you can begin scouting for places or decide the colour theme for your interior, you need to put pen to paper and conduct market research about the kind of cuisine or experience people are tilting towards. For example, Startup UK suggested that market trends in 2019 included a shift towards veganism and vegetarianism. This meant that new restaurants with an extensive vegan and/or vegetarian menu had a chance of attracting a varied clientele.

You will also need to study market trends, evaluate competitors, and look at what you can do differently. Hence, it is necessary for you to look at how a competitor makes their business operational (consider things like timing, location, number of staff, marketing techniques, etc.). Then you can begin by studying the menu and comparing them to your tentative plan.

Creating a Business plan

Review in the End

The key to ensuring a smooth opening for your restaurant is having a comprehensive business plan in place way before you open the restaurant. This is like the blueprint for your journey into the restaurant world. A typical business plan for a restaurant may include:

  • Restaurant Idea — this explains your motivation and reasons behind why your restaurant is the way it is;
  • Pricing — this should break down the costs of everything you need to open your business. From rent and inventory to payroll and even material costs;
  • Menu — A snapshot of what your customers will be eating at your restaurant;
  • Marketing Plan —  This details how you will combine conventional and digital marketing tactics to get word about your restaurant out there. 

A holistic and thorough business plan will help you secure funding, too, if that is how you’re gaining start-up money. How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan.

Location in London is a Deal-Breaker

Once you have conducted a brief market analysis, you need to hunt for the best location in London. London is brewing with all kinds of restaurants at every nook and cranny.

So you need to choose your location where competition is less but still accessible to people. Rent is high in London, but you need to be smart about it. You don’t want to open a restaurant where there is no hustle-bustle. While everyone dreams of having a restaurant at one of the best locations in London, such as Piccadilly, Mayfair and Covent Garden, it is not possible for small business owners to pay the rent for locations in these areas.

Fortunately, there are many areas such as Camden or Notting Hill. You can choose to shop on a busy street or in a locality that forms the majority of your target audience. 

Running your Restaurant

Running a restaurant entails many things. There are still some things needed to do before you can officially open doors to your restaurants, from running daily tasks to managerial duties. For example, if you need to make a marketing strategy, you can follow the business rule where businesses spend 3% to 6% sales revenue.

If not, you can always look for free ways to do it, such as: 

  • Create social media handles — Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are the best to promote your business online
  • Make an attractive website Look at Wix.com or Square Online to create your website. You can even go one step further and have a web developer create one for you.

Finally, when you have a marketing strategy up and running, you can follow these steps:

  • Get registered on Trip advisor — These are places where customers can find your restaurant and leave reviews and compare with other places
  • Getting licenses — You will need food safety certification, alcohol licensing, a construction permit, and music license PRS, to begin with.

Other things to consider when opening up a restaurant are its design and interior. You need to make sure that your restaurant stands out and offers a breath of fresh air in the market. Get interesting signage made and choose furniture that compliments your cuisine.

Registering your Restaurant

Once you have come with an idea to get all your licenses, you can register your restaurant. You need to go on the UK government’s website UK.Gov and enter your postal.

You need to register your restaurant and have your legal affairs in order at least 28 days before you can officially start working. 

Sounds Easy?

Opening a restaurant is a daunting task, but you do not need to be overwhelmed. Once you start to get your hands dirty and your mind flowing with ideas, you won’t be able to stop. In fact, opening a restaurant is an iterative activity, which means that you will keep visiting your business plan to make improvements.

New eBook Reveals How To Successfully Open A Restaurant… Free E-Book!


About the Author

Massimo’s career has grown up through the restaurant world, starting as a waiter through to high-end restaurant openings within an operational management capacity. This depth of experience has allowed him to understand the business from both a guest’s needs to what a team needs, giving him the benefit of an all-rounded view and approach to problem solving.