It can be intimidating to get into the restaurant business. When new restaurants open, their chances of success depend heavily on proper planning by the owners. Even if your food is excellent, there may be obstacles in your way. These tips from Sam Mustafa, a well-known restaurateur from Charleston, South Carolina, will help you on your way to success in the restaurant industry.

Know Your Target Market

Before you consider anything else, think carefully about your target market. How old are your typical customers? Different generations have different expectations for dining establishments. 

Generation Y, or Millennials, have a tendency to go for quick service and take-out options. They are more mobile than other generations and very interested in convenience. They are also less likely to be able to cook at home. 

Generation X, or those born between 1965 and 1980, are at the age where they have families. They concentrate on their children and want to have a family experience that is relaxing and not too expensive. They are less free with their money than Millennials. To appeal to Generation X, make sure that your restaurant is both family-friendly and affordable. To keep their interest, you may want to make sure that your restaurant is fun and hip without being stuffy. 

The baby boomer generation, or Generation X’s parents, are becoming grandparents. There is a divide between baby boomers with money and those who are struggling to get by. You may want to create an upscale restaurant to appeal to empty nesters with money. You may also want to appeal to a more budget-friendly crowd. 

Seniors are the most budget-conscious of all since many live on fixed incomes like Social Security. This may not seem like a profitable market, but seniors are very loyal, and regulars will fill your restaurant. Make sure that you institute senior specials and discount cards. You may also want to make a seniors’ menu with smaller portions and lower prices. It is possible to target seniors earlier in the evening and to transition to targeting other age groups later in the evening. 

Decide on your Theme

After you have secured your target market, take the time to think about what kind of food you want to serve. Come up with a restaurant concept that is harmonious with the name and with the expectations for your restaurant. For example, if your restaurant is a high-end pizza concept, give it an upscale name and locate in a trendy part of town. If you mistakenly target your neighborhood, you may find that your customers will expect something different from your restaurant and you may lose customers.

Different Dining Options

You will want to decide which kind of restaurant you want to have. Pick a theme and adhere to it. Most restaurants which try to do too much will fail. Whether you are creating an ethnic restaurant, a bakery, or a coffeehouse, do your research and find out what works within your community. Spend a lot of time in your competitors’ establishments and find out what you can do better. This will help you understand not only your competition but your target market as well.

Proper Location

The science of locating a restaurant is almost as important as the food. Have a complete site analysis made by a dedicated company or talk to your local economic development agency and find out whether they have any free services. You will want to know the income level, the rate of retail vacancies, the age demographics, and the basic traffic patterns in the neighborhood. 

If your restaurant is out of the way, you will miss the drive-by traffic. If it is in a congested area, your customers may have difficulty parking. Strive for the middle ground. 

When you carefully consider all of your options and think about all of the moving parts that go into creating a successful restaurant, you will be more likely to draw a large crowd and to please your target audience. Sam Mustafa hopes that these tips will help you succeed in the restaurant business.