How to Start a Restaurant in Florida: Your Step-By-Step Guide

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As the number of people who dine out continues to rise, more restaurants popped into existence to meet consumer demand. There are now over 1 million restaurants in the United States.

Nine in 10 consumers enjoy going to a restaurant, and 3 in 4 people say that dining out with friends and family is preferred over cooking at home. If you have a passion for food and are wanting to tap into this market by starting a restaurant, there are many details you must attend to.

Opening a restaurant requires a lot of time and work. You may have many questions about how to start a restaurant because of how daunting the process seems.

If you're looking to become a restaurant owner, then keep reading. In this comprehensive guide, we'll take an in-depth look at all the essential steps you need to attend to if you want to get your restaurant launched and be successful.


Table with silverware and button for free guide for Florida restaurants


A Step-By-Step Guide For How to Start a Restaurant

Over 470,000 people are living in Miami, Florida. Though there is a multitude of Miami restaurants, there are still ample opportunities for a new restaurant to break out onto the scene and be a huge hit. After all, tourism continues to thrive in the area and drive sales.

Here are our top essential steps you should follow to get a restaurant up and going.


Restaurant Branding Unified

Develop a Brand

The first step in establishing your restaurant is developing your brand. Determining the concept behind your restaurant includes:

  • deciding the style of your restaurant
  • choosing the type of food you want to service
  • picking what kind of ambiance you restaurant exudes

A brand is everything. It is the driving force behind the personality and mission of your restaurant.

The style of restaurant you choose will help dictate the type of food you serve. Do you want to be a quick-service restaurant or a midscale or upscale one? A midscale restaurant might be a casual family dining restaurant, whereas an upscale restaurant might boast excellent Italian cuisine.


variety of plated cuisines


Choose Your Cuisine Style

Once you know what you want your restaurant's brand to be, you need to narrow down your cuisine style.

For example, let's say you're going to an Italian restaurant. You need to choose whether this is going to be a casual family Italian restaurant, or maybe it's a reservation-only upscale spot. While both of these restaurants might serve Italian food, they're going to have drastic differences in the type of food available.


Menu Mockup


Design Your Menu Items

After you've selected a cuisine style, the next vital step is laying out your menu items.

Every restaurant is unique (unless it's a part of a franchise chain). Even if you've chosen to go with a casual family Italian restaurant, your menu can still be unique and different from other restaurants in the same niche. 

One restaurant might choose to focus more on pasta-based dishes. At the same time, perhaps you want to go with more traditional, authentic dishes that use locally-sourced ingredients.


Restaurant Plate on a map

Choose a Location

After you have the basics of your restaurant laid out, you'll need to decide upon a location. There are several factors to take into consideration when choosing a spot for your restaurant:

  • accessibility for customers
  • cost of the building to buy or rent
  • local ordinances
  • traffic
  • parking
  • visibility
  • local competition of other nearby restaurants
  • history of the building
  • proximity to residential and business areas
  • lease terms for the building

Location is everything when it comes to a restaurant. About 45% of people dine out multiple times a week. When they leave their home to get food, accessibility is a crucial motivator.

If your restaurant suffers from poor location or terrible parking, the odds are many will pass up your restaurant — no matter how delicious your food is! — in favor of dining somewhere closer. People dine out for both the experience and the convenience. There are other open restaurants in Miami, so don't give your customers an excuse to not go to yours.


Signing a Permit Application


Apply for Permits and Licenses

Obtaining permits and licenses is a vital step that cannot be overlooked.

To open a restaurant in Miami, you'll need to get various federal, state, and local permits and licenses to operate in the city.

You'll also need to register your restaurant name with the state of Florida. Miami requires a copy of your registration to verify your business, such as when the local county issues a local business tax receipt.

Another example is if you intend for your restaurant to serve alcohol. If so, you'll need to be issued an alcohol beverage license. The license requirements can vary based on the type of alcohol you serve. The three license types are for:

  • beer
  • beer and wine
  • beer, wine, and liquor

Another aspect to remember is that your restaurant will need worker's compensation coverage. If you'll be hiring four or more part or full-time employees, then the coverage is a state requirement.


Restaurant Exterior

Curb Appeal

Once you have your building rented or owned, the next thing to consider is a bit of restaurant renovation. People dine out as much for the convenience of the food as they do the experience. 

It's common for people to decide where to eat based upon the outside decor of an establishment. Are you going to choose to eat somewhere that has immaculate landscaping and an inviting exterior? Or somewhere surrounded by dead shrubs and peeling paint on the walls?

Also, be sure not to overlook the doors and windows. The quality of the glass you use will impact:

  • the general aesthetics of the establishment
  • how much external noise diners can hear
  • the quality of energy efficiency for the building

If the doors and windows look to be old, consider retrofitting them with impact glass. 

Impact glass is sturdier, able to withstand damaging forces like high winds and flying debris common in Miami during hurricane season. Impact products will also help maintain an even temperature indoors for your patrons.


Check out our free guide on refreshing your Florida Restaurant.


Restaurant Owners Happy Opening

Open a Successful Restaurant Today

If you follow our tips for how to start a restaurant, you'll be on the right track for founding a successful business. Opening a restaurant takes much work, but with the right plan and strategy in place, the amount of stress involved can be reduced.


Alco Logo

If you're thinking of opening a restaurant in Miami, consider partnering with Alco to get assistance with installing impact windows and doors. 

Contact us today!

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