More people are becoming health conscious and concerned about ethical eating. As a result, there is a need for restaurants that serve tasty, animal-free meals. But starting a vegan restaurant requires more than just drive and a good heart. Careful planning and foresight in the short term can help ensure the long-term success of your vegan eatery.
Opening any restaurant requires an investment. Talk to your financial analyst and make sure that you have enough money upfront to cover all expenses as well as your own cost of living for at least a year. Your planner should also be able to advise you in terms of any needed licenses and insurance.
Contact your local department of health to determine the requirements for opening a restaurant.
Make sure you choose a highly visible location. Many restaurants fail not because of food but because of the lack of traffic.
Hire a capable staff of cooks and servers and make sure they study up on vegan cooking. You want to ensure that they understand the intricacies of vegan cooking and baking. At the same time, they should also learn to bend their cooking and serving to meet the needs of customers with special diets. For example, some people have allergies, are gluten-free vegans and/or raw vegans. Your staff should be knowledgeable about each of these diets and should able to meet all of their needs.
Decide on a small but varied menu. Avoid making overly elaborate food. Choose dishes that are easy to prepare, that will turn a profit and that are universally appealing. Make as much as possible from scratch using local foods; not only will it save you money but it will also taste better.
Once the foundation to your vegan restaurant is in place, it's time to get out the word. Place ads in your local paper with a coupon to entice first-time visitors. Offer free samples to passers-by to attempt to lure them in. Since it's a vegan restaurant, you might want to offer sample that taste decidely "un-vegan" to surprise and delight potential customers, such as luscious cupcakes or barbeque seitan. If you can afford it, consider hiring a professional public relations manager.
Write a press release that includes the basics of your restaurant and send it to all local media including papers, radio stations and TV stations.
A week or two before opening, consider having a "dress rehearsal" night. Invite family and friends to play the role of "customers." You can then use this time to practice cooking and serving under pressure and to work out any kinks before opening night.
Open the restaurant, get cooking and have fun.
Try to enlist the help of a mentor--someone who is successfully running a vegan restaurant. Join the local Chamber of Commerce to receive discounts on group health insurance, and other perks.