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How do I Start a Restaurant in Dallas, Texas?

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Opening a restaurant in Dallas offers the chance to work with people, enjoy food and be self-employed. According to the most recent research from the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association, new restaurants in Dallas increased 22 percent from 2007 to 2008. To join the number of successful restaurants in Dallas, consider the factors that a Cornell University study says are key for restaurants to succeed. The study found that restaurateurs need to take into account economic, marketing and managerial perspectives when opening a restaurant.

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Create a restaurant concept. According to Cornell University, one of the key elements to a restaurant's success is having a specific concept that has been thoroughly researched. According to Michigan State University, one way to create a concept is to consider what type of restaurant is missing in Dallas, what type of competition exists for other restaurants and what price range people can afford. To come up with an exact concept of your restaurant, Michigan State University suggests describing the restaurant in two to three sentences, detailing the type of food and demographic.

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Get a sales tax permit and a restaurant permit. The sales tax permit can be acquired online through the state of Texas government site. Show the sales tax permit, your photo identification and pay the $300 fee for the restaurant permit. The restaurant permit is given by the Dallas Food Protection and Education office, which is open Monday through Friday.

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Designate a food service manager. According to the Dallas Environmental and Health Services Department's Food Protection and Education office, each restaurant must have one staff member pass a food service management class, which is available at locations throughout the state. The class includes 14 hours of training on proper food handling, and an exam must be passed at the end of the course. Anyone in the restaurant can be a designated food service manager, including the waitress, general manager or bartender.

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Install commercial-grade equipment. According to the Dallas Environmental and Health Services Department's Food Protection and Education office, sinks must be installed in the kitchen every 25 feet, in addition to a three-compartment utility sink. These items must be in place before the restaurant can open. Equipment needed will vary depending on what type of food the restaurant is serving; the city of Dallas only regulates the type of sink that must be used. At restaurant supply stores such as Lone Star Restaurant Supply, commercial equipment can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the size and type.

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Market the restaurant. To start a restaurant in Dallas, you'll need to let your potential customers know it is open for business. Possible ways to do this are to hire a public relations team, take out advertising in regional magazines and local newspapers or mail out fliers to local residents. Local publications include the Dallas Morning News, D Magazine and Modern Luxury Dallas. To place an ad, contact the advertising representative at each publication. The cost of an ad ranges from a few hundred dollars for a small newspaper ad to thousands of dollars for full page ads in magazines. To find out more about specific ad sizes and price breakdowns, ask the publication for a media kit.


Hire your staff with enough time to train them before the restaurant opens. A new staff will need to memorize the menu and have time to practice your restaurant's style of service.


If you are going to buy a restaurant that already exists or start your own in a former restaurant space, contact the Dallas Environmental and Health Services Department first. The department can tell you if the equipment, flooring, walls and other structural issues meet current health department codes


Journalist Somer Flaherty has been published in magazines such as "Teen Vogue" and "Sunset" as well as online at,,, and others. She is currently an editor at a luxury lifestyle publication, the author of the teen beauty book "Girl in a Fix" and a fashion journalism instructor at one of the top art universities in the United States.