The restaurant industry is a dynamic, fast-paced one that requires careful planning. On this page, you’ll find information on business planning, business structure, and why it's important to plan your menu early.
Create a business plan
Your restaurant’s success will depend on your knowledge of the industry, your finances, and your customers.
Before you invest, start with a business plan that contains a realistic assessment of costs and profits to make sure your business is viable.
Check out these resources from Small Business BC:
- How to Write a Business Plan
- Starting Your Business Checklist
- How to Evaluate your Business Idea
- Overview of Financing Programs
Do your research:
Decide on your restaurant type. Different business types may result in different costs and requirements as you work toward opening day. Things to consider include:
- Will you build a new restaurant business, or make a 'turn-key' purchase of an operating restaurant?
- Will you open a full service restaurant? Limited service restaurant? Food truck?
Demographic information can also be invaluable to help plan and evaluate your business idea. For market and statistical information in B.C., see:
- The BC Stats Business Gateway for business start-up information.
- Stats Canada Financial Performance Data: select B.C. and enter the NAICS code for full-service restaurant (72211).
- Stats Canada household spending profiles.
- BC Stats neighbourhood profiles and population projections.
For more support, contact the business planning advisory services from Small Business BC.
Choose a business structure
Decide which business structure is most appropriate for you: a sole proprietorship, partnership, or incorporation.
A lawyer or chartered accountant can also help you determine which structure is most appropriate for you.
Plan your menu
Planning your menu early is beneficial for several reasons:
- Zoning: Knowing the type of restaurant you intend to open will help you find a location that is properly zoned. In most cases, a cafe will have different zoning requirements than a formal restaurant.
- Kitchen design: A copy of your menu may be required for your Health Operating Permit application. Your kitchen design must be approved by your health authority as appropriate for the type of food you will be serving. Changes to your menu after this approval could cause significant delays.
- Liquor Licensing: A copy of your menu may be required for your Liquor Licence application. To obtain a Food-Primary Licence, you must have a full selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts.
Find required permits and licences
Visit BizPaL to generate a list of the permits and licences you may need to start your restaurant based on your location.
Restaurants are heavily regulated in British Columbia, for health and safety reasons. Having a clear idea of the requirements can help you plan ahead and avoid delays.