Opening a Seafood Restaurant: What You Need to Know

A whopping 70 percent of the average American seafood intake is consumed at restaurants. That’s good news for anyone looking to open a seafood restaurant in their town or city!

Of course, the competition in the restaurant trade is fierce. You’re competing not just against seafood restaurants but also other kinds of food providers—from Italian delis to UberEats drivers. Not to mention 17 percent of new beverage businesses fail in their first year.

So how does an inspiring restauranteur beat those odds? Read on to learn everything you need to know about opening a seafood restaurant.

Know Your Competition

One of the crucial steps in crafting a business plan for an eatery is gaining a working knowledge of the competition you’ll be up against when you open. Think about:

  • Where are other restaurants located?
  • What do other local restaurants do well, and what do they do poorly?
  • What culinary concepts do they champion?
  • What are their selling points?
  • How do they price their menus?

Run through these questions before you even think about how to buy seafood for your new restaurant!

Select Your Location Carefully

As they say in the real estate business: location, location, location. Whether you’re renting or buying your restaurant space, location matters.

If you’re planning a dine-in eatery, you’ll need foot traffic, easy parking, and access for supply trucks. Since you’re a fresh seafood restaurant, it might even pay to have an ocean or lake view. If you’re planning to start a seafood-focused food truck, research where food trucks can set up shop in your town or city.

Decide on Your Type of Cuisine or Specialty

It might seem obvious, but there are many different seafood restaurant concepts to choose from. You can’t just open a restaurant with a generic theme and hope for the best.

Spend time developing your menu around a specific type of cuisine—say, classic Cajun seafood—or a big idea—like quick-cooked, portable seafood bites to eat as you stroll along the beach.

Vet Seafood Suppliers

To run the best seafood restaurant in town, you’ll need to serve the freshest, highest quality seafood you can find. This means reviewing as many seafood suppliers as possible to check if their products are well packaged, within your budget, and sustainably sourced.

And remember, you’re not limited to vendors from the nearest fishing port. The internet allows us to order, pay for, and import green-lipped mussels from New Zealand and sushi-quality tuna from Japan. For example, click here to browse wild seafood options all the way from Alaska!

Making Your Seafood Restaurant Into a Success

A lot of work goes into a seafood restaurant before the doors open to customers—from crafting a business plan and doing market research to choosing vendors and getting licensed. No matter what kind of eatery you decide on, you’ll want to go with the freshest ocean fare you can find. If you have “catch of the day” on your menu, your diners will expect it to be just caught!

For more helpful advice for passionate restauranteurs and seafood business owners, browse the other articles on our website.

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