How to Start a Japanese Restaurant

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Sushi is a popular menu item at Japanese restaurants
Sushi is a popular menu item at Japanese restaurants (Image: sushi image by Ivanna Buldakova from Fotolia.com)

Like any business, opening a Japanese restaurant is a challenging yet potentially rewarding venture. Consider several things before starting a Japanese restaurant, such as location and proximity to competitors, the availability of financing, and the market for Japanese cuisine. Create a thorough business and marketing plan, explore how to hire experienced sushi and Japanese food chefs and obtain any necessary licenses and permits.

Things You'll Need

  • Business plan
  • Staff
  • Capital
  • Licenses and permits
  • Product
  • Physical location

Choose a location that is both highly accessible and visible. Make sure it is not too close to competing Japanese restaurants. Find a specialty that can set your restaurant apart from others and develop a marketing strategy to highlight that. This can be anything from offering traditional or rare Japanese cuisine, to having a well-known sushi chef who refuses to use anything but the freshest ingredients flown in from Japan.

Develop a business plan to present to either a bank or an investor for funding. Make sure your plan includes projections for revenue and expenses, target customers, marketing strategies, the restaurant’s product and service, and a concrete objective for the business. Explain specifically why a Japanese restaurant would do well in the area that you have in mind. Perhaps the nearest Japanese restaurant is far away, or the existing Japanese restaurants in the area have received poor reviews. Highlight why yours would be different.

Hire a management team and experienced chefs who can help create a stellar Japanese cuisine menu, order the proper foods, and develop tasteful Japanese-themed ambiance. Partner with food distributors who can guarantee freshness and reliability. Choose vendors with experience supplying other successful Japanese restaurants. Your kitchen needs to be well-stocked and maintained to have a successful opening. Make sure you order various Japanese beverages, including beers such as Asahi and Sapporo, hot and cold varieties of sake, and even popular Japanese soft drinks, like Sangaria.

Acquire the necessary licensing and permits. Restaurants that carry alcoholic beverages will need to apply for liquor licenses through their state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Requirements may vary depending on the state in which you will be operating. Register and apply for a business license through the city hall or county government office.

Market, advertise, and get your restaurant ready for opening night. Once you have hired your staff, stocked your kitchen, and acquired all of the necessary licenses and permits, it is time to get your business name out to the public and show them why they should try the new Japanese restaurant in town. Pick an opening night and invite the public through advertising in local papers, publications, and any other means available. Open the doors and start seating the tables.

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