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How To Set Restaurant Hours

Opening your own restaurant entails a lot of decision-making that may affect positively or negatively your venture. One of the decisions which has far-reaching consequences is when your restaurant should be open. If you are barely open, you may miss out on some opportunities to be profitable. Open too often and you may be looking at an empty restaurant for an extended period of time.

Coming up with your restaurant’s operating hours hinges on the general theme and concept of your business. You need to decide if you are opening a fine dining establishment or a casual diner for the family. If you are thinking of a bar, do you also want it to serve food like a brewpub?

You may also want to consider the location of your business and what kind of establishments and possible customers are there. Are breakfast places a dime a dozen or does the neighborhood need a restaurant that’s open early for morning meals? Is the customer traffic sufficient to prop up your business? If you are opening a bar, what items in the menu differentiate you from the other bars in the district? Opening a bar also means checking with the local city hall the zoning regulations that may limit your business hours. An example would be the strict noise and crowd zoning rules that apply to establishments close to residential houses.
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It is also vital that you mull over the kind of life/work balance you dream of having. You are going to be working a very long day if you intend to serve all three meals and supervise a staff of several shifts. As a new restaurant owner, you may want to try first opening for breakfast/lunch or lunch/dinner only.
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Beside the hours, you also need to think the days you will be open. Most restaurants have a one-day break which is usually on a Monday. Nevertheless, if your neighboring restaurants are closed on a particular day of the week, open yours so you can capture all the famished people looking for a place to eat. If you are located right smack in the heart of the central business district and you serve breakfast and lunch to office workers, it may not be wise to open on weekends when no one’s around.

As your business gain footage from the limited operating hours you have, you may encounter customers who will demand longer hours. Before opening for a longer period of time, carefully think over the possible ramifications on operations and staffing. Get pen and paper and calculate whether the extra income you can get from the extended opening hours can cover the costs of added utility and manpower. Valuate your breakeven point and adjust your opening hours as necessary.