Careers Business Ownership Small Restaurant Ideas Share PINTEREST Email Print Image by © The Balance 2018 Business Ownership Industries Restauranting Retail Small Business Real Estate Nonprofit Organizations Landlords Import/Export Business Freelancing & Consulting Franchises Food & Beverage Event Planning eBay E-commerce Construction Operations & Success Becoming an Owner By Lorri Mealey Lorri Mealey Twitter Lorri Mealey has nearly a decade of restaurant experience, including owning and operating her own restaurant in Western Maine. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 12/05/19 Not every new restaurant has to cost a fortune to open. There are ways to open your own restaurant on a shoestring budget, without sacrificing quality or service. Restaurant concepts such as mobile food trucks and pop-up restaurants are a hot trend at the moment. Another avenue to a successful restaurant business is through catering. Many restaurateurs get their start in the restaurant business by catering. Finally, choosing a small space to open a new restaurant will help keep costs down, while still giving you an opportunity to build a solid business reputation. Restaurant Food Trucks One of the biggest trends in the restaurant industry right now is food trucks. A food truck offers many of the same opportunities as a brick and mortar restaurant, without the high costs. A bonus of operating a food truck business is that you can go to where the customers are located. Many food trucks use social media like Facebook or Twitter as their only means of advertising, tweeting or posting each morning, where the truck will be stationed during lunchtime. Like a traditional restaurant, a food truck requires financing, but the costs are usually far less of an investment than starting a restaurant from scratch. Pop-Up Restaurants One of the hottest trends at the moment is pop up restaurants. More prominent in large cities, pop-ups are just what the name implies, a restaurant that pops up for a few days, weeks, or months, often in a usual location like an empty warehouse or rooftop. Other pop-up restaurants rent existing restaurants, during their off-hours, paying a percentage of the profits to the restaurant owners. Many well-known chefs have opened pop-up restaurants as a way to further build their reputations in the culinary world. However, you don’t have to be famous to open your own pop-up restaurant. What you do need is enough money to set up a temporary restaurant, a safe and secure location and all the necessary permits that your town requires. Small Restaurants Sometimes in order to go big, you have to think small. Selecting a restaurant location that is small, even tiny, can help you acclimate to owning a restaurant, without being overwhelmed. Some of the best restaurants in the country offer just 10 or 20 seats at a time. And a smaller restaurant oozes warmth and ambiance that larger ones don’t. A small restaurant, with a small kitchen, limits what you can offer on the menu, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Instead of standing dinner menu, you could offer a rotating prix fixe menu. Catering Many people, like Paula Deen, got their start with catering rather than opening their own restaurant right away. Catering parties offer you the chance to plan menus, interact with customers and organize and oversee staff. Catering important events, such as weddings, take a great deal of skill, from communicating effectively to knowing when and where to prepare and serve the food. It is a great way to see if you truly enjoy the hospitality industry enough to take the leap of opening your own restaurant. Easy Advertising Ideas Social media is becoming an increasingly important way for restaurants to advertise. Instead of opening the phone book to call for reservations, people may opt to check a restaurant’s Facebook page to see what the nightly specials are. The bonus of using social media to promote your restaurant is that it’s free and fairly user-friendly. The key to a successful social media campaign is to update your pages regularly so that customers know they can rely it on for current information. No matter what route you choose toward becoming a restaurateur, it will require hard work, organization, and patience. Each concept listed above has its own benefits and liabilities. The end result is a business that you created and can be proud of.