How to Open a Restaurant Near a New High School

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Many high school teens are eager to leave campus for lunch.
Many high school teens are eager to leave campus for lunch. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images)

High school students can bring a significant amount of business to nearby restaurants. Because most students in high school can leave campus for lunch, they often seek out establishments near campus. Opening a restaurant near a new high school before other businesses come into the area is critical. With a bit of planning and the right concept, your new restaurant can earn long-time success.

Find out what type of food the school will be serving. Most schools have a standard menu available on their district website, which all schools use. Calling the school district is another way to get this information. Think about selling food that isn't offered at the school so you won't have to worry about competing with the cafeteria.

Select a restaurant theme that will appeal to high school students as well as one that will be convenient for teachers and staff. For instance, a sit-down steak restaurant might not work out so well because neither students or staff have much time to eat during lunch. However, a vegetarian restaurant with a take-out or drive-through option might work.

Contact your state or county health department and find out what permits and guidelines you must get to open a food establishment. In order to operate legally, having the correct licenses and certifications is absolutely necessary.

Lease or buy a space for your restaurant near the new high school. Within walking distance of the school is optimal for students and staff that do not drive, as well as those who prefer to walk during lunch and after school. If you cannot find a space that close, find one within five minutes driving time of the school. If your county allows you to do so, consider opening a mobile restaurant, that way you can get close to the new campus.

Purchase your restaurant equipment and supplies wholesale to save money. Check out local classified ad websites and papers to see whether anyone is selling quality, used supplies to save even more cash.

Price the food reasonably. High school students, teachers and staff do not tend to be flush with cash. For example, selling $9 gourmet burgers won't attract many students or teachers, but selling $4 make-your-own burritos would be far more attractive.

Advertise your new restaurant in the high school's newspaper. You can also create simple coupons or fliers and ask the school's administration if they will distribute them in the teachers' mail boxes and conference rooms. Another option is offering free book covers with ads on them for the students. Schools are most often appreciative of receiving free book covers because they need to keep their textbooks in the best condition possible. Contact the school first to see whether they would be willing to distribute the book covers before spending money on printing them.

Sponsor events, such as pep rallies, back-to-school and conference nights, PTA meetings and sports tournaments, at the school to get your restaurant's name in front of the students, staff and parents.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid serving alcohol in your restaurant during school hours so parents will feel better about their kids going to your establishment for lunch.

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