Did You Know?
You will need a retailer's license if you are selling merchandise at your restaurant.
Barbecue meat is one of the favorite food items of the Americans. Whether it is picnic time or game time, many people find barbecue a means to bond with their family and friends. Also, many like to visit such restaurants from time to time to enjoy tasty and spicy food. If you are aspiring to start a barbecue restaurant, you must be ready to conduct a thorough market research and have a detailed business plan.
Also, do not spend too many funds in building and developing a restaurant space. Hire or buy existing spaces. You should also prefer to employ experienced chefs and staff. If you want to know more about how to start such a restaurant, here are a few tips that will help you out.
Have a Large Offering
Offer everything from beef, lamb, chicken, pork to seafood for your barbecue restaurant. Do not have a limitation on the menu as it will limit your customer base. Offer beef ribs, lamb ribs, chicken wings, steak, pulled pork, brisket, sausage, prawns, fish, scallops, lobsters, etc. Needless to say, also offer side dishes and other items like salads, sandwiches, and burgers. You can also offer pulled meat nachos, which are very popular among the customers. Don't forget to offer some delicacies like barbecue corn on cob or fries for vegetarians.
Tip: Conduct research about the popularity of a barbecue item so that you can make it your signature dish.
Licenses and Permits
You will require a business license to start your restaurant. Hence, you will have to register your business as "doing business as." Apart from that, you will also need to get an EIN number. You must also get the food handling and safety license. You and your employees may be required to attend classes about food handling and sanitation. Also, check with the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) for their guidelines. You may also need to get the liquor license for serving the same. Apart from that, you will have to get the Building License from the fire department. You may be also required to get a music license if you are planning to play live music. You can expect on-site inspection from the authorities, so be ready for it.
Tip: Check with your local, state, and federal authorities about the requirement for starting a barbecue restaurant even before you frame your business plan.
You have various options for locations to set up your restaurant. You can either set it up by a highway where you will get a lot of traffic or even find a place in commercial areas like strip malls where high foot traffic will be guaranteed. You can also start your restaurant near a college campus where you will get a lot of barbecue-enthusiastic students to be your customers. You will also have to decide whether you will have a seat-in, drive through, or take-away restaurant. You can also have a mix of all the three. If you are planning to invest only in barbecue trucks, you will not require to hunt for a space at all. Depending on the type of restaurant, you will have to look out for a space.
Tip: Ideally, look for at least 1600 sq ft of space that accommodates about 35 people with a separate 550 sq ft kitchen area.
Ambiance and Activities
People do not expect to come to a formal setting when they arrive at a barbecue restaurant. So, keep the ambiance of the restaurant informal. Give it a more southern feel and decorate it to give it the feel of a 'Texas' restaurant. You can opt for patio furniture for an outdoor feel, or restaurant booths for an indoor feel, both of which are easy to maintain. Apart from this, if you want, you can also have picnic tables to give it a very informal theme. If you have a young crowd coming in, offer live music or activities like face painting for children.
Tip: You can even arrange some indoor games to keep people busy while they wait for their barbecue dishes to arrive.
Once your business grows popular, try to invest your funds towards aggressive marketing to get more and more customers. Try to set up restaurants in different areas by starting a chain. If you have a limited seating capacity, you can even offer home delivery of the food items to cater to a large number of customers. Many of the barbecue joints located on the outskirts of city also serve as picnic and party venues. Not only this, but you can also offer your restaurant and the area around it for weddings. Many people prefer to have quiet weddings with their close relatives and friends, and will be ready to pay for it. However, all this requires a certain amount of investment, which you will be able to undertake once your business grows.
Tip: Keep experimenting and introducing new food items on your menu to make your restaurant even more popular.
If the area where your business is located has several barbecue restaurants, you will need to take special efforts to get your customer's attention. You can do this by designing a unique brand identity for your business. Take the help of a professional designer to get your logo, business name, and other collaterals designed. Ensure that it is not similar to the color schemes or font families of your competitors so that it will not confuse your customers. Remember that you will be using this right from your menu cards to newspaper inserts, so it should be eye-catching and interesting.
Tip: Visit your competitors' restaurants as a customer and study how they have designed their brand identity.
You can plan to sell merchandise of your brand to the customers who arrive at your restaurant. It can be anything from pre-cooked BBQ items, gourmet wood chips, caps, t-shirts, car stickers, table mats, aprons, utensils, stationery, etc. One of the best ways to advertise the delicious food at your restaurant is to offer the special sauces and condiments you use for your delicacies. Selling such merchandise will not only help in generating additional revenue, but it will also help in branding your restaurant. Have a dedicated store space for these items, and do not forget to put them on display.
Tip: You can also sell gift coupons or discount coupons of your restaurant.
You will have to make a contract with a meat supplier for regular supply of farm meat. Cook and test the meat before finalizing the order. It is always better to go for a reputed supplier, as your food will affect the health of your customers. So, do not compromise and go in for substandard meat. For your other requirements like butter, spices, oils, condiments, etc., you can visit a wholesale store to stock your inventory.
Tip: Try making your own sauces to save on cost; create a unique identity and add to the taste.
Apart from the regular kitchen equipment, you will require a full-fledged good quality smoker for your barbecue. You will also require a commercial refrigerator to store all the meat. You will require a gas range, ovens, fryer, grill, sandwich prep station, soda dispensers, meat slicers, condiment dispenser, cooking utensils, etc. You will also require the necessary cutlery and cookware. Don't forget to have a napkin dispenser for your restaurant.
Tip: Don't buy cheap secondhand equipment as you would incur a lot of cost on repairs.
Marketing and Advertising
As this business is very competitive, you will have to undertake aggressive marketing and advertising initiatives to stand out from your competitors. If your restaurant is not immediately on the main road, you will have to invest in neon signs. You also have to invest in newspaper inserts, pamphlets, door handles, flyers, etc. Apart from that, you must advertise in local newspapers too. Also, advertise on the local radio stations, as it is a great way to reach out to your target market.
Tip: Utilize social media websites extensively to engage with your target market. Introduce offers that will be cost-effective and tempting to resist.
It is important that you consult an insurance agent to know about the kind of insurance you will require. Also, you will need to get liability insurance to separate your personal wealth from your business one. Hope you will utilize these tips to start a barbecue restaurant when you are doing background work for your venture.