How To Open a Restaurant in Manchester

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Allie Van DuyneAuthor

Thinking about opening a restaurant in Manchester?

Manchester, the vibrant heart of Northern England, is known for its rich industrial heritage, diverse culture, and thriving food scene. If you're dreaming of opening your own restaurant in Manchester, you're embarking on an exciting journey – yet one filled with its own set of challenges.

According to exclusive data from Toast, the average monthly revenue for a new restaurant that’s less than 12 months old is £88,500. The average profit margin for a restaurant is typically between 3-5 per cent.

In today’s competitive market, aspiring restaurant owners must carefully assess their strategy for a successful launch. To assist you in kickstarting your eatery in Manchester, we've assembled a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to open a restaurant tailored to the local environment. This includes:

  • A customisable restaurant business plan template to map out your vision
  • How to secure restaurant financing and capital to make your vision a reality
  • The licenses and permits you'll need to secure to operate a restaurant business
  • Tips on how to do restaurant marketing and,
  • Additional insights to help make your new restaurant venture a success.
  • Let's get into it: Here's how to open a restaurant in Manchester.

1. Decide on a Restaurant Idea

Diners in Manchester are spoilt for choice, with quaint bistros, trendy cafes, established chains, and buzzing street food stalls. The city boasts over 650 restaurants, not to mention the emerging trend of ghost kitchens. So, identifying a concept that stands out is crucial to attracting Manchester’s locals and tourists.

What unique culinary experience will you provide? Whether it's a commitment to local produce, innovative dining experiences, or perhaps Manchester's best craft beer selection, it's vital to define your niche.

To begin shaping your brand, consider your restaurant's mission, core values, and visual identity. Can you envision your logo adorning a venue in the Northern Quarter or Spinningfields? Detail your thoughts and designs – these will form the core of your restaurant's identity!

If you want to prove your idea has legs, experimenting with a pop-up or food truck can offer valuable insights, build a following among Manchester’s foodies, and demonstrate the viability of your concept to potential investors.

As your idea starts to come to life, it’ll serve as your restaurant's north(ern) star, paving the way to step two...

2.  Create a Restaurant Business Plan

Launching your dream restaurant in Manchester without a detailed business plan is a recipe for disaster. The business plan is your roadmap, detailing how your venture will come to life and operate post-launch.

Use your business plan to navigate the early stages and to secure funding from potential investors. A robust restaurant business plan covers:

  • Executive summary, including your restaurant name
  • Company overview, including your business model
  • Industry analysis focusing on Manchester’s market, including target demographics, location study, and competitive landscape
  • Marketing plan
  • Business model and service model (Are you a quick service restaurant? Fine dining? Fast food? Dining room sit down? Decide that here)
  • Operations plan (staffing, customer service policies and procedures, restaurant point of sale, payroll)
  • Financial analysis and business model (investment plan, projected profit and loss statement, break-even analysis, expected cash flow)

If you’re not sure you have everything you need, seeking advice from experienced advisors or mentors in the restaurant industry can ensure you’re on the right track. 


Restaurant Business Plan Template

No matter where you’re at in your restaurant ownership journey, a business plan will be your north star. Organise your vision and ensure that nothing is overlooked with this free template.


3. Secure Restaurant Capital

The reality is that starting a restaurant in Manchester can be expensive. 

Whether you're taking on a franchise, forming partnerships, or going it alone, a significant amount of initial investment is necessary. For individuals without personal capital, there are several financing alternatives at their disposal, including:

  • Equipment and Technology Loans. Negotiate with your bank or provider a way to procure loans for kitchen equipment and restaurant technology, which can be one of the most expensive costs. 
  • Working Capital Loans. Working capital loans help cover operating costs while your restaurant has more expenses than income. Ideally, budget six to twelve months of operating costs until you reach the break-even point.
  • Lines of Credit. If you’re approved for a business line of credit, you’ll get a maximum credit amount but will only have to pay what you use. Like a credit card, the line of credit constantly revolves. As you pay your balance, you’ll have more credit to draw on for future expenses.

Investigate borrowing opportunities from commercial banks, credit unions, and even partners such as your point of sale and payment processors. Whether you're scaling up, acquiring new equipment (time for a new oven or a walk-in!), or handling short-term cash needs, securing a dependable source of financing is crucial to achieving your dreams of running a restaurant in Manchester.

4. Choose a Restaurant Location

Location, location, location. The importance of selecting the right location for your restaurant in Manchester cannot be overstated. It's important to conduct in-depth research on local demographics, market trends, competition, and details of potential sites, including size, visibility, and history. Alternatively, a ghost kitchen can be considered for a model that doesn’t need to be tied down.

If you decide on a brick-and-mortar establishment, your options include leasing, buying, or building your restaurant. Consider the following factors when choosing a location:

  • Target audience and customer profile
  • Real estate market conditions in Manchester
  • Community engagement opportunities
  • Dimensions of the site
  • History of the site's previous occupants

The location you choose and its size should reflect the theme of your restaurant. For an upscale pub, a standalone building might be necessary, whereas if you want to do a modern twist on a chippy, a food truck or stall in one of Manchester’s renowned food halls could be the ticket.

Your choice of location and space will have a significant impact on your kitchen layout and the overall floor plan. If your vision includes an exposed kitchen with a pizza oven, you'll need a larger space with the ability to make structural modifications for ventilation. Be aware that landlord restrictions might limit your options here.

5. Apply for Restaurant Licences and Permits

Obtaining the necessary licences and permits can be a long process and will vary depending on the nature of your restaurant. Certain permits are essential for all, while others are specific to the services you offer, such as serving alcohol. Here are the key licences and permits you may require for your restaurant in Manchester:

Premises Licence: Needed for the sale of alcohol, provision of entertainment, and late-night refreshment services from 11 pm to 5 am.

  • Personal Licence: Essential for overseeing the sale of alcohol at your venue.
  • Registration with the Local Council: You must register your food business with the local council in Manchester at least 28 days before opening. This registration is mandatory but free.
  • Food Hygiene Certification: Although not a legal requirement, it's standard practice for restaurant staff to obtain food hygiene training and certification to ensure safety and compliance.
  • Health and Safety Evaluation: In accordance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, ensuring your restaurant meets health and safety standards is mandatory.
  • Risk Assessment Documentation: Required for establishments with five or more employees, documenting any significant hazards and the measures taken to mitigate them.
  • Fire Safety Assessment: Compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is necessary for all restaurants.
  • Environmental Licences: Should your restaurant discharge waste other than domestic sewage into public sewers, securing a permit from the Environment Agency or your local council is required.
  • Music Licence: Obtained from PPL PRS Ltd, this licence is necessary if you intend to play music in your establishment.
  • Advertisement and Signage Licence: Required if you plan to display any signs or advertisements externally on your restaurant premises.

Proactively managing these licences and permits is vital for any budding restaurateur in Manchester. You don’t want red tape delaying your opening day!

6. Develop A Memorable Restaurant Menu and Beverage Program

Collaborate with your culinary team and mixologists to create a distinguished menu and drinks list that sets your Manchester restaurant apart. The key to capturing the attention of locals and visitors lies in your creativity and ability to offer something unique.

Consider, for example, if you’re offering a modern take on Mancunian classics. How can you make your Eccles cakes stand out? What elements can you introduce to elevate your offerings? How will your menu reflect your brand’s identity and hold up to other Manchester institutions?

Pricing strategy becomes crucial at this stage. It encompasses assessing the cost of ingredients, anticipated sales, stock control, profit targets, and adherence to food safety standards.

Creating a menu that lingers in the minds of your patrons involves a blend of mouth-watering dishes, strategic pricing, appealing presentation, and strategic item placement. Crafting the perfect menu will ensure your restaurant not only meets but exceeds the expectations of Manchester's discerning diners.

7. Hire Top-Notch Restaurant Staff

Your staff will be the heart and soul of your restaurant, so it’s crucial to attract the right people. Your recruitment process will need to cover various roles, from front-of-house to culinary experts and beyond.

Recruitment methods can vary, so consider embracing referrals, job advertisements, and online career platforms. Creating an inviting and supportive work environment is essential for drawing in and keeping skilled individuals and developing positive word-of-mouth within service circles (people talk). 

Regardless of your approach, prioritise hiring individuals who click with your brand and can deliver exceptional customer experiences. Remember that your staff will stay in guest’s minds when it’s time to write reviews!

8. Invest in Equipment and Restaurant Technology

Taking orders with pen and paper is quickly becoming a thing of the past and can lead to inefficiencies. Nowadays, diners expect a touch of technology in their dining experience – according to Toast’s Restaurant Technology Report, 95% of restaurateurs agree that technology improves business efficiency. 

It’s also important to remember that not everyone can or prefers to dine in. Ensuring your takeaway service is on par with the dine-in experience is crucial. For those opening a new spot in Manchester, it's wise to invest in the right equipment and technology that seamlessly supports both dine-in and takeaway. This way, you cater to all your customers' preferences, maintaining a high-quality experience across the board. Consider investing in the following:

  • A cloud-based restaurant point of sale system or pos software 
  • Kitchen display screens
  • An online ordering system for restaurants
  • Restaurant reporting and analytics
  • Restaurant inventory management software
  • Restaurant accounting software
  • Simple scheduling and team communication
  • A restaurant payroll solution
  • A restaurant loyalty or rewards solution

Contactless payment options and order-and-pay-at-the-table technology that makes guests feel comfortable

With these technologies in your repertoire, scaling your Manchester restaurant and establishing a successful brand will be much easier.


Restaurant POS Comparison Tool

A free, customizable Restaurant POS Comparison Tool to research and compare point of sale systems in one Excel spreadsheet or editable PDF.


9. Create a Restaurant Marketing Plan

Launching a restaurant in Manchester calls for a solid marketing strategy that grabs attention and keeps your audience hooked. Your strategy needs to cover a broad spectrum of promotional activities designed to ramp up excitement and get people walking through your door from the get-go. From attractive offers on opening day and weekly specials that keep regulars coming back to a strong social media game and targeted email campaigns – every piece of your marketing puzzle should be carefully put together.

Instead of casting a wide net, your marketing should be sharp and focused, targeting the platforms where your potential diners hang out, both online and offline. It’s all about crafting messages that speak directly to what they like and how they enjoy dining.

Top of your to-do list for marketing? Get the buzz going about your restaurant's soft launch and the big grand opening!


Restaurant Marketing Plan

Create a marketing plan that'll drive repeat business with this customizable marketing playbook template and interactive calendar.


10. Host a Soft-Opening and Grand-Opening

When you're all set to make a splash in Manchester, you'll want to plan both soft and grand opening events to show off your restaurant to the city. A soft opening is essentially your dress rehearsal. This is when you invite friends, family, and even the folks from around the block to come and give your menu a try. They're likely to be more forgiving of any little slips, rooting for you all the way.

Think of the soft opening as a relaxed night with your closest circle, a chance to smooth out any wrinkles with your team in a laid-back setting. Yes, you might encounter a minor glitch here and there, but hey, that's all part of the journey.

Then comes the big one – your grand opening. This is your moment to open your doors wide and invite Manchester to experience what you've got to offer. It's okay if there are still a couple of things to tweak; it's all part of getting into the groove.

Make sure to capture these key moments for social media. And remember, running a restaurant is quite an adventure, so pause now and then to soak it all in. Revel in the thrill, and maybe end the day with a well-earned drink. Welcome to the vibrant world of hospitality. Cheers to your success!

And if, down the line, you decide to expand your restaurant business or open multiple locations, you know where to find us

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.