How to start a restaurant in South Africa

How to start a restaurant in South Africa

This is a guide on how to start a restaurant in South Africa.

People need food and beverages; this is one sector that is continuously growing. The restaurant industry is growing due to increased levels of household income and food delivery services.

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Here are some of the things you will need when starting a restaurant business.

1. Location

Location is everything when it comes to operating a successful restaurant. Even the best of concepts will flop when implemented in the wrong location. The location is so important that other restaurant owners prefer finding the right location first before even coming up with the concept

High traffic areas are usually very good for restaurants because they are easily accessible. Other things you should look at before choosing a location is the overall disposable income of the neighbourhood that you want to operate in.

Your rent should not cost more than 10% of your revenue, this is often difficult to estimate. The best way to estimate your potential revenue is to go to a restaurant that has the same concept as the one you want to launch. Look at the menu and calculate the average cost of food in that restaurant then start counting the number of people that go into the restaurant on any given day. This will give you a number to work with. Don’t make projections based a best-case scenario.

2. Choose your restaurant concept

This is the service style of your restaurant, the food you serve. Your brand and everything it stands for should be established in this step. Try to create the culture that your brand will be associated with. Your brand should be communicated through the atmosphere of your restaurant.

3. Design the menu

Design your menu items, it’s important to do this as early as possible because it will help you decide on which equipment to buy. Your menu doesn’t have to be detailed out but it’s good to have an idea of the kind of food that you want to serve in your restaurant in South Africa.

4. Permits and licenses

You will need to register your business, it’s highly recommended that you register it as a private company. Registering a business costs R175 when registering with the CIPC.

You will need to meet certain health and safety requirements. These are rules that generally govern hygiene for food related businesses. A certificate of acceptability will be provided to you should you meet all the requirements.

You will also need licenses if you are planning to sell alcohol in your restaurant or even play music, even when it’s played in the background.

5. Hire the right staff

Consider all roles that need to be filled in your restaurant business. From dishwashers to cashiers to human resources, waitrons and so on. Hire people with experience for the critical roles. Especially roles that have to do with customer service.

6. Marketing

There are a lot of ways to market a restaurant and you should utilize as many of them as possible. First things first, you need to create a website. You can get a website from as little as R1 200 from Promta Web Services.

Other marketing channels that you can use are online directories, digital ads and traditional advertisements. Always offer promotions to new guests, maybe give them discounts or free items.


This was a guide on how to start a restaurant in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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