How Much Does It Cost to Open a Restaurant in Dublin? [Restaurant Startup Costs]

Ryan Gromfin

Ryan GromfinAuthor

Let's dive into the various costs involved in launching a restaurant in Dublin. 

Taking your restaurant concept from an idea and turning it into reality is a challenging task, but it can be a thrilling project.

Like with any major question, after wondering, “How do I start a restaurant?” comes the question, “What will it cost to actually do it?”

Starting a restaurant in Dublin involves many expenses, and there are a lot of different factors to think about, which makes this a tricky question to answer. However, in this guide, we're going to look at all the initial costs you need to plan and budget for.

How much does it cost to open a restaurant in Dublin?

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Restaurant in Dublin [Average Cost 2023]

Based on your lease, the type of furniture you select, and the extent of your renovations, overall expenses for starting a restaurant can vary from €150,000 to over €500,000.

Restaurant Opening Cost by Square Foot

For just the premises, you might pay about €20 to €60 for each square foot annually – though this can vary quite a bit based on your location and whether you're renting or buying. If your restaurant floor plan is large, this number can be even higher.

For rentals, the average ranges from €15,000 to €200,000 annually, with cheaper rates generally found in rural settings, while the highest costs are reserved for cities like Dublin.

If you're considering buying an existing 1,500-square-foot restaurant that's closing down, complete with all its fixtures and fittings, your costs might land at the lower end of the €150,000 to €500,000 range. Plus, keep in mind that constructing a new restaurant from scratch is likely to be much more expensive, especially when you factor in building costs along with equipment, furniture, and decoration.

These are ballpark figures for starting a restaurant in Dublin – numerous factors can influence the final cost, and these estimates can vary widely between different businesses.  Your individual business plan also plays an important part here, so make sure you have that squared away. 

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What Restaurant Startup Costs You Can Expect

Opening a restaurant in Dublin comes with many variables, so that means there's no one-size-fits-all price tag for what you might spend. But understanding exactly where your money will go can offer you a clearer picture of how much you'll likely end up paying.

As the saying goes, failing to plan is a plan to fail. That’s why, in the beginning, you and your team need to allocate ample time to strategise — this includes understanding how you'll finance each part of the launch of your Dublin restaurant.

Restaurants typically run on tight profit margins and have many moving parts. Starting off with a bad layout can lead to substantial losses due to extra staff costs and lost clientele. An interior space that’s unpleasant or uncomfortable can turn customers away from staying longer for dessert or a nightcap. Also, inadequate construction and choosing the wrong equipment can end up costing double later.

Below, we'll outline some of the major startup costs and ongoing expenses you should expect when opening a restaurant in Dublin.

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Restaurant Startup Costs Breakdown

Use this restaurant startup costs checklist to get you going as you begin budgeting for your new restaurant.

1. Utilities

Even though your restaurant isn't up and running at full capacity during the setup phase, you'll still need utilities like gas, water, and electricity. The expenses for these services can accumulate rapidly. Typically, restaurants and pubs in Dublin see 22.2% to 25.8% of their annual turnover going towards various expenses, including utility costs.

Price Range: You can expect anywhere from €10,000 - €20,000 per year based on averages and the size of your venue. If your venue is on the larger side, expect to pay more.

2. Location

Choosing the right spot for your restaurant is one of the key choices you'll face. For foodie fare and a hip vibe, Stoneybatter could be the right spot for you. Or if you're going for cutting-edge and contemporary, Portobello just might be the place. Generally, it's smart to invest in a prime location with lots of people walking by rather than depending entirely on advertising to attract customers to your restaurant.

Depending on your concept, you might also be in a position to consider a few different options:

  • Building from the ground up and investing in new construction.
  • Opening in an existing building and purchasing an operating restaurant.
  • Converting an existing commercial space into a restaurant space.

Each choice comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and these can significantly impact your initial expenses. Remember, though, there's no definitive right or wrong path. Through careful research, you can work out which option best suits your needs.

3. Interior Finishes and Equipment

This is where the smaller costs can start to add up. Obviously, you need kitchen utensils and significant appliances. Additionally, your Dublin restaurant requires furniture and decorations to embody your brand and concept for your customers. Also, remember the essential back-of-house staples such as signs, lighting, a sound system, and telecommunication.

It's easy to overdo it in this area, so budgeting is crucial to manage these initial costs. The main factors affecting your budget here will be the kitchen equipment and furniture, which vary according to the size of the kitchen and dining areas.

Price Range: You can expect to spend between €50,000 - €150,000 on equipment and furnishings. 

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4. Pre-Opening Expenses

The moment you open your restaurant for the first time, everything must be set and operational.

Quality training is a great investment because it’s crucial to make sure your team is prepared and works well as a unit. Additionally, stock up your kitchen storage with enough supplies to cover the initial period after opening. This includes food, dishes, beverages, glasses, water jugs, and any other essentials needed to provide an impressive experience for your new customers. 

Price Range: €20,000 - €120,000 for food, utensils and staffing costs. 

5. Marketing

Your marketing budget really depends on the type of restaurant you start. If it's a franchise, your advertising could be handled for you. But if your restaurant is new and in a competitive area, you might need to spend more on marketing and promotions to capture the market’s attention.

If your new Dublin venture is a high-end restaurant in the busier parts of the city, partnering with a PR firm for exposure might be a good idea, or you could catch the interest of the media for a feature story about your establishment.

Starting with social media is a smart move. Next, once your customer base starts growing, your email marketing can help foster demand. Just like all the other aspects of opening a restaurant, the costs for marketing and PR will vary based on your restaurant's concept, the level of competition, and other unique factors that you'll be familiar with as the owner.

Price Range: 3 - 6% of sales. 

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6. Capital and Contingency

Even if it feels like an overnight success, it'll still take a while to get off the ground fully. Expect sales to grow slowly and understand it might take time for customers to start coming back regularly. It's important to have some extra money and a safety net set aside to help your restaurant survive the first six months, a time that might bring fluctuating or slow sales.

Price Range: Put aside 10-20% of your total startup costs for contingency. 

7. Exterior Finishes

Your Dublin restaurant's appeal as a space should extend beyond the interior. If you can, investing in the external design, lighting, and greenery can really make a difference. Plus, if there's space for outdoor dining, make sure this is a focus in the warmer months.

Even if you can't make big changes outside, it's still important to have clear signage to announce to potential customers that your restaurant is ready and raring to invite them inside.

Price Range: €100 - €30,000 with the possibility of additional planning permit costs. 

8. Organisational and Development Costs

For many, this is the least enjoyable aspect of starting a restaurant, but it's crucial. You must apply for and settle the fees for your restaurant's licences and permits, put down deposits for insurance, and cover initial costs for utilities like gas, electricity, and water.

This process can be as demanding of your time as it is of your finances, so begin reviewing the required licences and permits needed to launch your restaurant in Dublin.

Price Average: €500 - €3,805 for licences and €750 - €1,000 for insurance per year. 

9. Professional Services

If you're new to the restaurant business, it's smart not to get professional support. Getting help from a restaurant consultant, along with guidance from professionals such as architects, legal advisors, and interior designers, can be a solid investment for a successful launch of your restaurant.

Price Range: €0- €60,000 can be ballparked depending on whether you use professionals.

10. Technology

The right technologies are key to your restaurant's smooth operation. Every restaurant requires a point-of-sale (POS) system, and based on your specific style, you might also need additional tools and tech to ensure everything runs as perfectly as possible.

For example, full-service restaurants may benefit from using handheld POS devices for quicker customer turnover, while fast-service venues might find a kitchen display system and analytics useful for gaining deeper business insights. You can learn more about each here. 

Price Range: Get a quote.

11. Food Cost

This is literally the bread and butter of your restaurant in Dublin (pun intended), so you'll want to make sure you're fully equipped for a successful start. Lacking enough food supplies, particularly at opening, could leave a poor first impression on your customers. Also, having a fully stocked inventory ensures that your kitchen staff has everything necessary for smooth operations. Like all other aspects, the typical monthly cost for food will differ based on your restaurant's type of cuisine and what you offer on the menu.

Price Average: On average, 36.9% of turnover is spent on food and beverages in Dublin restaurants. 

Bonus Cost: Franchise Fees

Obviously, this expense won't be relevant if your restaurant is independent. However, if your restaurant is a franchise, prepare for significant initial costs. Below is a list of typical startup expenses for well-known restaurant franchises*:

  • McDonald’s: €1 million to €2.3 million

  • KFC: €1.2 million to €2.5 million

  • Supermac’s €250,000 to €500,000

  • Costa Coffee: €250,000 to €450,000

  • Papa John’s: €250,000 to €400,000

  • Subway: €80,000 to €200,000

*Data collected in November of 2023 and subject to change. 

Assembling Your Restaurant Startup Dream Team

It's a well-known fact that underfunding is a major reason restaurants can fail. Being undercapitalised can exacerbate the difficulties of managing an already demanding business. To sidestep these common issues, engaging with professionals at every stage is essential.

Here is a list of trades and professionals that you should consult as you plan to open your restaurant:

  • Real estate agents
  • Solicitor 
  • Accountants
  • General construction contractors
  • Marketing firms
  • Architects

Getting assistance from these experts will help you stay on track. Top tip: whenever possible, try to engage professionals with specific experience in Dublin’s restaurant industry.

Open a Restaurant without Closing Your Bank Account

Before deciding to launch your new Dublin restaurant, assess your total available capital and decide how to distribute it among various needs. For instance, you might choose to allocate more funds to refurbishments than to marketing, or vice versa.

Be wise with your budgeting and aim for accuracy. Although your final expenses may greatly exceed or fall short of your initial estimates, opening a restaurant with a well-thought-out and realistic budget will enhance your chances for success.

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