Restaurant and catering start-up checklist
You've decided to follow your dreams and open a restaurant or catering business, which is no ordinary task. What do you need to know? What preparations need to be made?
The Restaurant and catering start-up checklist is designed to help you create and implement your recipe for success. For general information on business start-up, consult our Business start-up checklist.
- Business start-up checklist
When you're setting up your business, you need to ensure that all of your bases are covered. Consider the following steps as you navigate through the business start-up phase.
Knowing the restaurant and catering industry
As a restaurateur or caterer, you need to know your industry, customers and suppliers inside-out. Your marketing strategy will be as crucial to your success as the items on your menu. Use these resources to help develop your knowledge base and become an expert.
- Research – Restaurants Canada
Read about current trends and statistics in the food service industry.
Get data that sheds light on population characteristics such as location, age, income, education level, and more.
- Canadian Industry Statistics — Food Services and Drinking Places (NAICS 722)
Access information on the number of establishments, salaries and wages, financial performance data and company directories.
- Canadian Industry Statistics — Caterers (NAICS 72232)
Access information on the number of establishments, productivity, investment and company directories for the food service and drinking place industry.
- Marketing basics for the restaurant and foodservice industry
Find marketing tips, promotional ideas and advertising articles straight from Restaurants Canada.
- Nutrition information for foods sold in restaurants and food service establishments
Find out about the voluntary guidelines from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for providing nutrition information to your customers.
- Buying a business
Find out what you need to know before buying a business: where to look, how to evaluate potential acquisitions, and what a fair price would be.
Learn more about buying a franchise as an option for starting a business.
Designing and setting up your restaurant or catering business
Whether you build your business from the ground up or you plan to buy an existing one, you need to have a very organized, functional set-up. From the appetizers you serve, to the supplies you require, you will need to have every detail in place. Significant time and attention to detail will be needed for setting up your food service business, transporting your food, and kitchen and menu requirements.
- Menu Design
Design your menu to attract customers and to promote your restaurant.
- Menu costing
Learn how to set your menu prices to maximize profits.
- Restaurant design
Set up the interior and exterior of your restaurant to balance functionality with ambience.
- Restaurant kitchens
Follow these tips to make your restaurant's kitchen efficient, safe and functional.
- Stock control and inventory
Explore various stock control techniques and learn how to develop a suitable inventory system for your company.
- Finding and managing suppliers
Find suppliers to fill the many needs of your business.
- Protecting your business
Your company is your greatest investment. Discover safeguard options that will help keep your business secure.
Complying with restaurant and catering rules and regulations
You will find that the food service industry has a number of specific regulations. From storing and preparing food to serving alcoholic beverages, you need to have your house in order before you open your doors. Explore these regulations and guidelines early on in the planning process.
- Permits and licences
Find the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal permits and licences that you may need to start or manage your business.
- Human resources regulations
It is important to understand your obligations and responsibilities as an employer with regards to hiring, labour standards, wages, employment equity, leave, and more.
- Sales taxes on food and beverages
Find out how sales taxes apply to food service meals in each province and territory.
- Reporting gratuities: Employment income not reported on a T4 slip
Find out how to report tips and gratuities for income tax purposes.
- Liquor Service Training Program
Find out how you and your employees can be trained to responsibly serve alcoholic beverages in the Yukon.
- National Food Safety Training Program
Learn about Restaurants Canada's food safety training courses offered across the country.
- Food safety
Access information on food safety, including product recalls, safety training, allergies and how-to guides on handling specific safety issues.
- Environmental Public Health
If your business is a food establishment, swimming pool, social care facility, and/or personal service facility, you need to learn your obligations.
- Tips or gratuities (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Learn about how tips and gratuities are the property of your employees.
- CRA checklist for small businesses
Use this checklist from the Canada Revenue Agency to help you understand each stage of the lifecycle of your business.
Red Seal Trade certification in the restaurant industry
Red Seal Trade certification is available for certain occupations in the food service industry. You may want to consider these qualifications when you are staffing your restaurant.
- Red Seal Trades
Find out more about trades that are designated under the Red Seal Program. This program is recognized as an interprovincial standard of excellence.
Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced entrepreneur who's been in business for years, you can never be too informed when it comes to your business.
- Contact the Canada Business Network
The Canada Business Network has centres across the country that offer guidance, information and resources to help make your journey in business a success.
- Business support organizations
Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and coaches can help you transition from new business owner to experienced entrepreneur.
- Starting a business
Want to be your own boss? Find out how to start a business.
- Canadian Finance and Leasing Association
Find leasing and financing companies that could help you procure items such as equipment, vehicles, and inventory, through asset-based financing.
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