New Cafe, Restaurant or Bar – Venue setup checklist

New Cafe, Restaurant or Bar - Venue setup checklist

Once you have secured your perfect location and have the necessary permits to operate your new business, the next step is the venue setup. This is a checklist for anyone opening a new cafe, restaurant or bar.

We’re assuming you have already developed a comprehensive Business Plan and have settled on your ideal floor plan. This is where your customer comes into the mix.

Know your customer

Knowing who your customer is will feed into almost every aspect of your venue setup. Obviously your venue location will play a big part in determining who your customer is. Consider demographics such as age, occupation, disposable income, life stage, and interests. Try to be as specific as possible and narrow down your customer base into one or two categories for planning purposes.

Point of difference

For many new businesses in the hospitality industry finding that point of difference is vital for surviving a highly competitive industry. Apart from having a unique brand and styling, the right menu can be the one thing that sets you apart from your competitors. Working with a food service consultant, such as Danny Russo of Russolini, can be the key to creating a unique menu that will attract customers and be profitable.

Menu efficiency

When you are developing your menu, you will need to decide how you will serve it. Will you offer a sit down, take away or combination of both? Planning the menu across the day and across the week can assist your chefs with kitchen management and menu efficiency. The fewer ingredients used for different options across the menu will mean efficiencies in supply costs and storage and less wastage.

A menu that ignites the senses has the potential to attract customers and generate repeat business and referrals. Tips for writing a great menu include:

  • Keep it short and descriptive to communicate the deliciousness of a dish – “fiery”, “crunchy”, “hearty”, “buttery”
  • Use new ways to describe dishes – “beer battered sand whiting with hand cut chips”
  • Know your audience – craft your descriptions that appeal to your customers
  • Organise menu categories to allow customers to skim read and quickly find what they’re looking for
  • Know how many items to put on your menu – studies show customers like to see 6 items per category for take away venues and 7-10 items per category for restaurants
  • Drop the dollar sign – it can appear to make things seem more expensive than what they are
  • Don’t put prices in a single column – it’s easier to see more expensive items
  • Give visual direction – use boxes, lines and colour to attract attention to high margin menu items

With all that thought going into your menu, the capacity of your new venue and the actual table size are also important to profitability.

Capacity / Table size

A detailed floor plan will show the number of tables and potential capacity of your new venue. You should also know what table size and the number of seats your venue will hold. Table size is particularly important for selecting the size of everything from the plates, glasswarecutlerynapkins, to salt and pepper shakers.

Budgeting for venue setup

It may sound obvious, but having a budget is more than just knowing your upper limit. Creating a spreadsheet of every item for your venue and getting quotes is just the start. Items that need washing – glasses, coffee cups, plates and cutlery – may start to run out during peak service times. Our Sales Team recommend you buy 1.5 times more stock for these items than what you think you’ll need. We also recommend you choose plates that can be used for different things (eg. share plates and mains).

Your budget should also include essential equipment.


The following is a checklist of major equipment you may need to start your business.

  • Tables, Chairs, and Stools
  • Professional Espresso Machine and Coffee Grinder
  • Commercial grade Fridges and Freezers
  • Oven, Grill, Stovetop, Fryer, Sandwich Press
  • Racks, Shelving, Storage Cabinets
  • Preparation Tables and Sinks, Handwashing Sinks
  • Dishwasher
  • Beer Taps, Ice makers
  • Rubber Floor Mats
  • Cash Register, Mobile POS devices, EFTPOS machines
  • Music system – check licencing requirements for playing music in a public place
  • Phones, Printer, Broadband internet
  • Kitchen Management Solution, Rostering Solution
  • Accounting and Payments Solutions

From here you can consider your brand vision, styling, and look and feel. Our Sales Team believe this is important for selecting the style of coffee cups, plates, glassware, and cutlery. Your brand, theme and styling can help with identifying your point of difference. We can recommend options that provide durability and functionality, but also aesthetic appeal.


It is easy to get caught up in the detail of a new venue setup. One of the most important considerations, and one that is either overlooked or left until last, is the question of storage. An adequate and well planned storage space has the capacity to reduce wastage and improve your venue’s running costs.

Not only should the storage space be big enough, but you will need to consider racking, storage containers for different foods and liquids, as well as correct labeling. We have a complete storage solution that can be tailored to your new venue setup while complying with food safety regulations.

Getting people through the door

Once your venue setup is under way, we recommend you start marketing prior to opening. This can be achieved through social media and letter box drops and special introductory offers. Creating a buzz and generating positive word of mouth will go a long way to enticing customers through the front door.

Personalised service starts here

Johnson Hospitality Supplies can assist you in your new venue setup. Our experienced sales team can work with you to identify essential equipment and items that meet your budget and brand vision.

We can supply you with everything from crockery, cutlery and glassware to storage, and chemicals and janitorial items.

Call us on (02) 9558 5199, send us an email via or complete our online form to ask a question or request a quote. We look forward to helping your business thrive.


Disclaimer: The contents of this blog are meant to be general information only and not professional advice.

 Related reading

If you enjoyed this Blog you may find the following Blogs useful:

Essential Guide – Opening a new Cafe, Restaurant or Bar

New Cafe, Restaurant or Bar – Council approval

New Cafe, Restaurant or Bar – Finding the perfect location