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Brenda Rice

2021: The Return of the Restaurant

Last year was rough for the restaurant industry. If you tabled your dreams of opening a restaurant in 2020, you may be wondering if the outlook is any better for 2021. While the answer to this question is anything but obvious, formulating a business plan is critical to understanding the market and increasing your chances of success in the years ahead.

Here’s a closer look at some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of opening a restaurant this year. 

Plan and Prepare

Planning and preparation are important in all aspects of life, but they’re especially important in the intensely competitive restaurant industry. A business plan can help you to define a path forward, and can also be an invaluable communication tool to generate buy-in with stakeholders. 

Obviously, some of the most important aspects of any restaurant business plan are defining your brand, deciding what kind of establishment it will be, and determining how you’ll make money. From fast casual to formal dining, restaurants fall into many different categories. Determining your niche is crucial to your restaurant’s future success.

Additional components of a restaurant business plan include the menu, staff requirements, space and location needs, equipment and other expenses, and marketing and public relations. While these things have always mattered, they can help answer the question of whether a restaurant will be positioned to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world. 

A Bright Future

There’s no denying that these are challenging times for restaurants, and the outlook isn’t entirely clear. However, there are some positives.

For starters, data from the National Restaurant Association indicates that consumer pent-up demand is huge. Many consumers say they’re not eating on the premises of restaurants as often as they’d like to. More specifically, 90 percent of Baby Boomers -- a generation known for its disposable income -- say they miss eating out. This means that when things do return to “normal,” restaurants are likely to see a lot of business.

And while the closure of restaurants during COVID has been disheartening to say the least, there is a bright side: When interest does return, there will be room for newcomers on the block. One sign that the forecast looks promising for restaurants? According to Forbes, “large, well-capitalized chains are circling emptying real estate parcels like vultures.”

Certainly, while opening a restaurant in 2021 is a daunting process, it’s also an exciting one. Doing your research, understanding the market, and creating a comprehensive business plan can help you decide whether the time is right for you to pursue your restaurant ownership dreams. 

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