Food might be the greatest thing out there on planet Earth, however, opening up a restaurant is no fun journey. There are a number of things that one should keep in mind before taking that step – you need to think about the logistics, funding, supplier, the cuisine, your kitchen staff, and most importantly the person behind the magical experience that your taste buds go through aka the Chef.
But don’t let that discourage you! Having your own restaurant could be challenging, but not impossible. As such, we decided to speak to the social media influencer Mohammed WEDO, who recently opened his first restaurant Malgoom, to give us some tips on launching your own restaurant here in Bahrain.
Here are 7 things to keep in mind before opening a restaurant in Bahrain:
- Consult a kitchen supplier and engineer. Every kitchen needs reliable equipment and ingredients at reasonable prices. This is why Mohammed suggests that the first thing anyone should do when they decide to open a restaurant is to consult kitchen suppliers and engineers, to ensure the success of your restaurant. Maintaining the level of consistency and the quality of the food and service are incredibly important at the very first phases of the restaurant especially when you’re trying to establish your brand. “I would highly recommend working with a local supplier as it will be easier for maintenance and purchasing equipment, especially if you had a change of heart,” Mohammed says.
- “It all depends on whether the concept and target are well defined.” You simply cannot launch anything, let alone a restaurant without having a proper plan in mind – better yet, have it on paper. According to Mohammed, before approaching consultants and advisors, you really need to have a crystalized vision of what you want to do and what you want to achieve. This will not only save you time, but it also allows your consultants to add value to your plans in the initial steps of your business. Need a consultancy agency to help you? You can check out Culinare and Beyond and Beyond Borders Consulting.
- Get yourself a legal adviser or counsel. “I would highly recommend some legal advisors to be involved to save time and help with the procedures,” Mohammed shares. Since you will need to obtain permits and licenses to open up a restaurant, it’s recommended that you have a legal advisor to help out with the paperwork. You can check out the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism for more details on what permits and licenses are needed.
- Jot down the characteristics you need before hunting for staff. According to Mohammed, although there is an abundance of staff providers, finding the right staff could still be challenging. He recommends that you first write down the characteristics you’re looking for in every position you’re filing, then filter out through the CVs. He also adds that you shouldn’t depend on the CV of the candidate – always interview them and see if they match the characteristics you have listed. Nonetheless, Mohammed states that the best way to know if you’ve employed the right person or not would be after hiring, so always try them out for a couple of months during the probation period before employing them.
- Consult everyone around you. Whether it’s a friend, a colleague, a family member, a competitor, ask around and gather as much data as you can. However, Mohammed gives a fair warning and advice you to get ready to face and hear a lot of discouraging comments – they typical Bahraini ones of “there are plenty of other restaurants” “the market is saturated” “people won’t pay” and more. But don’t give up so easily, fight through those negative vibes and prove them wrong!
- Build your concept around the audience. This goes without saying but before you start anything, RESEARCH. What are millennials looking for nowadays? A dimly-lit space that serves Spanish Lattes? A cafe or a restaurant that’s eco-friendly? Mohammed suggests that If you want to launch your own restaurant, it needs to accommodate the needs and wants of your audience, not the other way around. As such, spend time working on your concept, learn more about the market, and identify your audience based on that research. Some factors to consider while building your concept:
- Location. Two things in mind you need to consider when it comes to selecting t a spot: accessibility and visibility. You need to make sure that people can see your restaurant when they’re walking by or driving – it’s basically free marketing. When it comes to accessibility, you need to figure out whether your restaurant can be reached easily. Does it have a parking space? Do they need to walk to the restaurant? Will, there be valets
- Demographics. Similar to what we’ve mentioned, you need to learn more about the market and the audience wants. Is it Mexican food? Is it modern tikka place? Know your target audience. And once you’ve decided on a location, you also need to check if the demographics match the area you’ve picked.
- Competition. Who’s out there with a similar idea to yours? How are you going to differentiate yourself from them? These are questions that you need to ask yourself before launching a restaurant. F&B competitions in Bahrain could be brutal with the surge of restaurants in town, so you really need to find your unique selling point.
- Seek help from Tamkeen. Tamkeen has a number of programs that individuals and entrepreneurs alike can benefit from. When it comes to restaurants, entrepreneurs can look into the Enterprise Support Program which includes:
- Business Development. Tamkeen can offer a grant that covers 50% of the approved items/services that a business needs including Machinery and Equipment, IC, Marketing & Branding, Business Consultancy, and more.
- Wage Subsidy Support. Did you know that startups can obtain financial support when hiring Bahraini employees? So why not make use of that? It’s a win-win situation as it will help small restaurants lower their staff and training costs, enabling them to steadily grow their businesses.
While launching a restaurant can look incredibly demanding and tough, it’s still possible to achieve if you’ve gone through our checklist above. And don’t forget, the longer it takes, the better it would taste!