How much money do I need to start a small restaurant?

“How much does it cost to operate a restaurant?” is one of the most frequently asked questions. It’s a difficult topic to answer because there are so many factors to consider when starting a restaurant.

As a restaurateur, getting your restaurant concept off the ground will most likely be your most difficult endeavor, but it will also be your most gratifying. After “How do I build a restaurant?” comes “How do I pay for everything?” as it does with most major life decisions. We’ll go through all of the restaurant set up costs you’ll need to plan for and budget for in this guide.

Startup Costs for a Restaurant

Let’s start with the hard figures of operating a restaurant. According to, if you buy your location, you should expect to pay roughly $178 per square foot; if you lease your space, you should expect to pay around $159 per square foot. Total restaurant startup costs can range from $95,000 to over $2 million, depending on your rent, furnishings choices, and how you’re refurbishing your space.

There are, however, other things to consider. Remember to utilize an equation – or a bespoke restaurant opening calculator – to calculate your expected expenditures based on your individual scenario and concept.
The cost of opening a restaurant is approximately $450 per square foot.
The cost of opening a restaurant ranges from $100 to $800 per square foot, depending on the location, concept, size, materials, new or existing location, and equipment

That works out to $450 per square foot. That amount can easily build up for a restaurant with hundreds or even thousands of square feet.
You could pay $6,000 for a 1,500-square-foot restaurant that is closing down, with all furniture, fixtures, and equipment, and then invest only $20,000 more in it. On the other hand, a 5,000 square foot restaurant might be built from the ground up for over $1,000,000.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to operating a restaurant. With a detailed awareness of the areas where you intend to spend your money, you’ll have a better idea of what your final prices will be.

How Much Does It Cost to Open a Restaurant?

The best strategy for failing is to fail to plan effectively. As your project advances, the larger, more experienced, and professional your team becomes, the fewer surprises you will confront. When you’re first starting out, you and your team should take the time to make sure that any plans you make are carried through.

Restaurants operate on razor-thin profit margins and have a lot of moving components, so if you start with a bad layout, you could end up losing thousands of dollars in additional labor and lost customers. People will be less likely to order a second drink if the environment is dull or unappealing. Construction flaws and poor equipment selections can end up costing you twice as much.

Putting Together Your Restaurant Dream Team
We all know that eateries that are underfunded are doomed to fail. Undercapitalization will make it more difficult to stay afloat in an already difficult business. You must cooperate with professionals every step of the way to prevent hazards.

As you prepare to establish your restaurant, here is a list of trades and specialists to contact:

  • Agents of real estate
  • Attorneys
  • Accountants
  • Contractors who specialise in general building
  • Companies that specialise in marketing
  • Architects

Using the services of professionals such as the ones listed above can ensure that you are doing things correctly. If at all feasible, hire people who have worked in restaurants before.