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When to Staff Up for Your New Restaurant Opening

When to Staff Up for Your New Restaurant Opening

Are you opening a new restaurant? First and foremost, congratulations! Talk about an exciting time! It’s also a hectic time – but exciting, nonetheless. Whether you’re building from the ground up, redesigning an existing space, or making minimal to major changes to your site, you need a great management team to help you do the proverbial heavy lifting to get your restaurant off to a great start.  

I invested 10+ years in hospitality with a variety of well-known brands and was deeply involved in numerous restaurant grand openings. My industry experience includes hospitality general management, food and beverage, and payroll and benefits. Today, as a talent recruiter specializing in the hospitality industry, one of the opportunities I love best is helping companies onboard great talent for their teams as they open new restaurant locations.  

In this article, I’m focusing on the critical step of when business owners should hire the right restaurant management team. This is for restaurant owners in startup mode and even more experienced restaurateurs as you move toward grand opening. How to launch a new restaurant truly begins here!  

As you’ll see, timing and your management team’s contributions to your planning are everything.  

When is the best time to onboard your restaurant management team?  

The right timeframe for onboarding your management team largely depends on your circumstances as you approach the date of your restaurant grand opening. If you’re building a new location from scratch, you’ll have a longer ramp-up period than if you’re taking over an existing building or space with the ideal restaurant layout already in place.  

Let’s dive into some scenarios and guidelines for the best times to hire your management team in advance of opening your restaurant.  

New construction: Plan to hire management 4 to 6+ months out  

If you’re starting your restaurant concept with a blank slate, this is the perfect opportunity to create a layout that’s ideally suited to your business plan and needs. Watch this video from The Founder, in which they literally draw the layout of their restaurant concept to create a complete visual representation and understanding of what the right flow will be for their needs: 

Look to create that same thoughtful level of efficiency for each part of your restaurant. Having the right management team in place at the start of construction is one of the simplest ways to do this right. Why?  

If you hire an experienced general manager at this stage, they can help create a blueprint for a layout that makes sense for your business plans and the dining experience you intend to create. Smart restaurateurs make sure they have the right professionals in place in these early stages, people who intimately understand the flow of a great restaurant based on experience at previous locations. With your specific concept and goals in mind, your knowledgeable GM can be crucial to your grand opening day and long-term success.  

Existing site that needs a new layout: Plan to hire management 3 to 5+ months out   

In this scenario, you’re working with an existing site but want to re-work the layout to meet your needs and deliver the best customer experience. Many of the points from the section above still apply, so, instead falling victim to 20/20 hindsight, bring on your management team sooner than later to assist with the right layout and ensure your location is what you want it to be from the get-go. Again, experienced restaurant management professionals bring applied experience and foresight to your table to help you make decisions based on your specific goals.  

Existing site that needs minimal changes: Plan to hire management 2 to 4+ months out   

With minimal changes needed to your restaurant layout, you’re safer to wait until you’re closer to opening day to bring on your management team. Your biggest focus at this time should be on having key leaders on board to help staff up your full restaurant team, from front- to back-of-house staffing, and to arrange training for restaurant employees. You can also lean on their expertise to order supplies for your restaurants’ unique needs and work together to ensure you’re promoting your new restaurant for a successful opening day – and far beyond.  

Make the best hiring decisions – and first impressions   

Whatever startup scenario you’re in, and whether you’re planning a soft opening or a full-scale grand opening, the last thing you want to do is wait until the last minute to hire the brain trust you need to make your restaurant and considerable investment a success. Put the best people you can find in the right shoes, at the right time, to bring immediate and long-term profitability.  

Reach out to me today for a cost-free consultation on your restaurant management talent needs. I can share valuable first-hand experience, inside scoop on market trends, salary benchmarks, industry updates, and effective hiring processes. I’ll also open our nationwide network of experienced hospitality management candidates to you. Let’s work together to create an exceptional grand opening for your restaurant and set your table for years of success!  

A leader in restaurant talent recruitment, Goodwin Recruiting sources top talent for every sector of the restaurant industry:  

  • Hotels and Resorts 
  • Fast-Casual Dining 
  • Fine Dining 
  • Country Clubs 
  • Independent and Family-Owned Operations 
  • Corporate Operations  

Here are some of the roles we fill for restaurants nationwide:  

  • General Managers 
  • Restaurant Managers and Assistant Managers 
  • Directors of Restaurant Operations 
  • IT Managers 
  • Executive Chefs and Sous Chefs 
  • Kitchen Managers 
  • Food and Beverage Managers 
  • Facilities Managers 
  • Human Resources Staff 
  • Finance and Accounting Staff 
  • Marketing Staff 
  • Office and Administrative Staff