Reading time: 6 minutes

Entering the restaurant industry can be an incredible way to participate and bring life to your community. However, the restaurant industry is a very challenging environment for your new restaurant. There are substantial startup costs, lots of competitors, and numerous licensing requirements. However, if you are a chef with an incredible idea, a passion for food and making people happy, it is definitely worth a shot. This article will outline some steps you can take to open a restaurant and ensure you are running a successful business.

Licensing and Food Safety

All new restaurants and food businesses need licenses. These can be done through the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) or your local council. They may have different obligations, so make sure you completely understand them.

Depending on the type of restaurant that you operate, you will have different licensing requirements and obligations you need to follow. You may need to consider the Food Act, Wine Act, Animal Products Act or Agricultural Compounds Act. If you want to sell alcohol, you will need to apply for a specific license for your district. You will also need to make sure that you have a certified duty manager on the premises at all times if you sell alcohol. 

You will likely have to keep your license updated and have frequent inspections, so make sure that you have suitable, clear protocols to ensure that you can comply with these standards. To comply with the Food Act, you will need to ensure that you can exclude dirt, dust and other chemicals from the areas where you prepare and serve food. 

Finally, you will also need a license to operate a dining area on public land, like a footpath or a park. If you wish to operate a restaurant in a public area, you also need to make sure that you keep the area clean and tidy and pack up any furniture at the end of the day. 

Licensing and Registering Your Business

No matter what type of business you are starting, there are several processes that you will need to go through to register your business. 

Firstly, you must decide on a business structure and register your business with the New Zealand Business Network or Companies Office. You will need to make sure that your business name is unique. Furthermore, you will also need an IRD number for your business to ensure that you are meeting your tax obligations. 

Preparing a business plan is an excellent way to ensure that you have a clear plan for your business. The restaurant business has high barriers to entry – it is an expensive industry to enter, so you will need to keep an eye on your costs and expenses as your business begins. Thus, a business plan allows you to develop a business model, how you will operate, and your restaurant concept. Furthermore, it will also allow you to explore your target market and work out how to capitalise on your unique selling point for potential customers. Finally, this allows you to set targets for your profits, seek restaurant funding, and keep your finances under control. 

Therefore, finding a mentor for your business who has experience in the industry can be extremely helpful. In addition, you can contact the Regional Partner Network to see if they have any services that may apply to you. 

NZ Startup Manual: A Legal Handbook For Founders

Essential reading for anyone building their startup. This free guide includes practical advice and seven real-life case studies.

Download Now

Coming Up With a Unique Selling Point

When you enter an incredibly competitive market like the food industry, it is good to do market research and make sure that you have a unique restaurant concept.

That being said, if you have a story behind your journey to creating a restaurant, it could be helpful to share it. This helps people understand your restaurant’s story, help it stand out, and be more excited to visit your new restaurant. Ultimately, this can help you become a successful restaurant.

Developing a marketing strategy is essential to make sure that you hit the ground running. You will need to see what customer base you are catering to. If you are a chef, you will likely have a vision for your business based on what you like to cook. Therefore, you should ensure your restaurant’s location suits your restaurant concept for your restaurant. Accordingly, do not start a restaurant in an area that is already saturated with businesses of that type. Additionally, don’t start a restaurant in a quiet area at night or where people do not frequent. These are all issues to consider when setting up your restaurant business plan.

Hiring and Training Staff

Finally, you will need to employ staff to help you with running your restaurant. For instance, these may be other chefs, business managers, waiters or other staff members. Make sure that you understand who you will need to fill in the gaps in your skills.

For example, if you are a chef, you may want to find someone to handle the business or management side.

Next, you must ensure you have good employment agreements in place for every staff member you need to hire. You can have templates available for every type of job you are hiring for and then update the details to suit every employee. 

Likewise, you will need to make sure that you train staff correctly in food safety. This can be as simple as an online module or in-house training with an instructor.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, starting a new restaurant is a very challenging venture for new restaurant owners. First, you will need to make sure that all your licenses are correct and up to date, and you will need to register your business. Next, to ensure the success of your business, you will also want to come and come up with a unique selling point that makes your business stand out from the competition. Finally, you will also need to hire and train staff and ensure that they uphold and comply with food safety and other licensing requirements. 

If you need help and want to open a restaurant, our experienced startup lawyers can assist in our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Must I register as a company when I open a restaurant?

Not necessarily. Check out this article if you think that registering as a company is the right step for you. Most likely, registering as a business will be sufficient to open a restaurant. 

Is the restaurant business an easy one to break into?

Not at all. The hospitality industry is known for its challenges, both for the business and lifestyle of hospitality workers. However, that is not to say you should not open a restaurant and give it a try.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards