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How to Start a Restaurant in Virginia

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Opening a restaurant is a huge undertaking in any state in the union. But it may be a bit easier in Virginia. Starting with epicurean and founding father Thomas Jefferson, who brought plants like eggplants and endives home from France, Virginia is a huge eating center. As you open your own restaurant, you can decide if you want to focus on local produce like oysters from the Chesapeake Bay, apples from the Shenandoah, or the famous Virginia peanuts or introduce a whole new type of cuisine.

Opening a Virginia Restaurant

Choose your location. Take into account whether you want a lot of foot traffic--in which case Richmond, the capital, may be a good bet--or if you want more upscale clientele. If the latter is true you might look into Hunt Country, which is horse country. Or you might check out Williamsburg, a touristic town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once you have zeroed in on a location, check out available properties, remembering to stay within budget.

Decide what kind of food you would like to serve. See if there is a kind of restaurant that people in that area might want, but does not yet exist. Does a city have every kind of ethnic food except Japanese? If the other Asian restaurants seem popular that may be a good place to start.

Write a business plan. Take into account how much startup capital you will need, including salaries for employees, rent, renovations, cooking equipment, ingredients, etc. Take care with proofreading the document, and possibly running it by a friend. The proposal will need to be perfect to convince potential investors. List the capital that you already have in the document. The state of Virginia offers small grants to entrepreneurs, so check out their website to see if you qualify.

Present your business plan to potential investors. Once you have raised the necessary capital, rent your space and start up your restaurant.


Before you open, make sure you have the necessary food handlers and liquor licenses.

  • Before you open, make sure you have the necessary food handlers and liquor licenses.

Rebecca Jenkins has contributed to newspapers and blogs since 2004. She has written for numerous publications, including her college newspaper and the "San Francisco Chronicle." Her work has also appeared on various websites. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Dublin and has done master's work in political science.