Starting a Bistro Restaurant

Looking to start your dream bistro restaurant business? Having doubts on where to start? Looking for tips or tactics in working that bistro restaurant market? Then look no more!

We have compiled a list of business strategies to help a prospective restaurant owner to break into the bistro restaurant business.

Bistro Restaurant Business: What to do First

Starting a bistro restaurant business requires intensive capital and labor and poses many risks. That is why it is necessary that a prospective bistro restaurant owner conduct intensive planning and research on the location of the restaurant, the market, the food selections and the financial aspect of the bistro restaurant. A bistro restaurateur must choose a location that is accessible to the market that you want to target. It is advisable to choose a location near places that usually have people coming and going such as a courthouse or a hotel or an office building. There must be sufficient foot traffic to showcase the restaurant to others that are merely passing by.

A prospective bistro restaurant owner must also target a market that is naturally susceptible to trying a bistro restaurant. These are the baby boomers, the lawyers and their clients as well business employees and workers. To gain popularity in the local business area you may want to hire employees that live or grew up in the locality where your bistro restaurant is located. You can also sponsor fundraisers or dinners for local charity organizations.

Know the Pulse of the Bistro Restaurant Business

To know the pulse of the market in the bistro restaurant business, you have to research your competitors and their customers. Much of what goes into your bistro restaurant’s decorations, proposed ambiance and food selection would depend on what your competitor is offering. If there is another bistro restaurant near-by, look at their menu and wine selection as well as seating capacity and ambiance. If they have a good menu selection but their servings are minute then you know that you should offer dishes that have bigger servings. If they have good food at reasonable prices but are offering few seats, then you may want to expand the seats that you offer. If they have a high-end intimate environment why not offer an ambiance where they can both be casual and intimate at the same time? If they have an expensive wine selection, why not offer both expensive and inexpensive wine selection?

The key is to establish an image and an identity that you are a hip but also an intimate bistro restaurant. Showcase your wine selection, have a separate place for the bar and for customers that want to dine privately. Aim to serve excellent and delicious food at reasonable prices and sufficient servings. Since you seek to open a bistro restaurant, hire people that have knowledge of your wine selection or you can offer training to your service personnel to get them acquainted with your wine selection. This way they get to recommend which wine is perfect for each customer. Starting any business is difficult, but with the help of those that have come before you, starting a bistro restaurant business can’t be impossible.

24 Comments

  • lisa kelley said on February 7, 2010
    Downtown, dayton, ohio, US. I just dont know where to begin
  • John Chavez said on February 19, 2010
    Highlands, Louisville, Ky USA I Just Dont Know Where To Start!
  • kara stoessel said on May 7, 2010
    I would like to own my bistro cafe, davenport iowa
  • Ashly Reiss said on July 31, 2010
    please help me to open a bistro restaurant in Kansas City, MO, USA
  • Stefano Hernandez said on August 6, 2010
    I am located in North Shore, MA. How to start my Bistro rest.
  • donna turner said on August 8, 2010
    tompkinsville, ky. 42167. i have some restaurant experience but with country food and since we live in an area that has very little to choose from (rural) i would like to start a bistro but this is a dry county can i still do it without the wine and drinks?
  • Chef James McDonald said on October 13, 2010
    Las Vegas, Nevada,,,,Suburb of Summerlin. Big Shout to Ashly Reiss, I'm from K.C.,Mo., and I need help starting a Bisto in Las Vegas. I'm a Graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. I've worked as Assistant Exec.Chef as well as chef. I've ran other businesses, but never in the Hospitality field, and I need a lot of help the competition is fierce, and a lot of snakes after the location chosen.
  • jonas e mcalister jr said on March 27, 2011
    I don't have much restaurant experience but I would like to learn more about the business of owning a bistro. At the moment I'm in Savannah ga and I would like to open my own bistro serving an variety of southern dishes.
  • Sheri Kratzer said on April 6, 2011
    My twin sister and I love to cook,decorate and entertain. Our dream has been to open up a bistro type place of our own, but we lack the knowledge to get started. We are located in Maitland (Orlando), Florida. If we were able to find a good location, then what? There is a lot to establish beyond the location. We'd appreciate any help you could offer.
  • Lovelyn & Hannah Stone said on May 9, 2011
    We've been looking into starting a bakery & we recently expanded to starting up a bistro instead. We're located in a small town called Magazine, Arkansas (High School state football champs of AR) and the ONLY food places around here are located in the town next to us, they're: Subway, KFC/Tacobell, a Mexican Restaurant, & Larrys Pizza. We'd love to bring some variety to this small town. Any help/information is appreciated!
  • Jessica said on July 6, 2011
    My husband and I are great cooks (not chefs, no schooling) and would like to share our talent by opening a bistro. We live in Rockford, IL and are looking to relocate south or anywhere that we think may have a chance. We just don't know where to start. We would like to combine my hispanic cooking and his elegant american cuisines. Any information will be appreciated.
  • Adrienne said on July 14, 2011
    I would like to start a dessert bistro. I am located in St. Louis, MO. I currently have no schooling or chef experience. I love to cook and entertain so I would also like to have Poetry readings and other entertaining things there. I would like to serve coffee and tea, smoothies, Healthy but sweet. No food cooked. I would appreciate any and all information, Thanks.
  • Christina said on February 4, 2012
    I have wanted to open a tofu restaurant for about a year now in Cumberland, Maryland. I would like the food to be a little bit of each culture. But its so hard to decide what to pick. I have some cooking training and 10+ years experience. The neighborhood has a young crowd and health conscience community. I was wondering how much a small bistro type would cost to start up? and do you have any ideas for the type of cuisine i should do with the tofu.
  • stacey said on March 9, 2012
    i live in scotland and would like to open a bistro. there is one set up next to me which no-one is currently running. i have no food experience or schooling for it but i would love to start it up. there is a high school at one side and town centre on the other with places for the kids to go on their lunch break so its in a great place that way, i just dont know how to get set up. i've started thinking about what i could have on the menu (with the help of my 15 year old brother) but i have no idea where to start on pricing. so any help at all would be great. thanks
  • thrillseaka said on April 5, 2012
    hi stacey, its not as daunting as it sounds to start a bistro if you plan a menu well and have some funds to begin with. first i would recommend hire a chef to work out the menu for you and go thru the costings per dish you choose to cook. just and idea for food would be at least 4 types of steaks schnitzels, chicken/veal/pork, chips, wedges, pan, pastas/meat, chips and side salads go on each plate depending on customer choices or maybe they might want mash and vege's u may have local waitresses or you could also go with a buzzer system where patrons collect their own food from the counter. i hope some input i have given does help as i work in a bistro and most in australia are much alike according to area and zones. good luck if you do would like to look it up one day online :)
  • Tina Ballard said on April 17, 2012
    I am very interested in starting a bistro or seafood shack in Albuquerque, NM. I have culinary and business experience but am not sure where to start.
  • Jolly said on August 20, 2012
    Mont kiara, Malaysia.. I'm going to be a partner in running a bistro. I use to be a waitress but surprisingly, the owner of my supposed to be new working place, appointed me as a partner and handle the staff and the bistro itself.. Goodness gracious, how am I supposed to do that.?.. :-(
  • JACQUELINE FANTOZZI said on October 18, 2012
    my bistro would be located in patterson, california USA in Stanislaus County
  • Flor said on October 20, 2012
    Hi, I'm interested on some info regarding starting up a bistro...Does anyone have an idea on what is the average startup cost on kitchen equipment & furniture for a small area bout 30 seating capacity? Thanks!
  • sk sham said on October 30, 2012
    Hi , I'm going to open a small bistro at langkawi next month , I use to run a beach bar here for 2 years and now my partner ask me to open and run an bistro ( western food / beers / wines & liquor) + a live bands ( 3 or 4 musician's) its sound very big but we only have just nice budget to run for 6 months. risk is there and at the moment is High Seasons time in Langkawi Island of Malaysia..furthermore on march 2013 there will be an international event near by that's calls LIMA stand for LANGKAWI INTERNATIONAL MARINTIME AND AIR EXHIBITION. WELL I guess I just follow my instinct go for its and make it happen, In life everything's is a risk .....
  • David Peed said on February 6, 2013
    I've been working in f&b industry for the last 8 years. i've work for Emeril's, Norman van Aken, and other great compaines as a line cook. But now i'm interested in setting up my own business and looking forward on where to start first to develop, help with very little cash to start. any ideas please...thank you i'm currently living in Miami fl
  • Adela said on August 11, 2013
    I have no restaurant experience.. A friend has a small bistro, drive thru.... no setting inside, there is setting outside.. She has offered me a job there... Any advice on how I can be the best employee I can be? What do I need to know about the business? Thank you, Adela
  • brenda paulisbo said on May 20, 2014
    I have always dreamed of owing and operating a food outlet such as a cafe or bistro. I do not know how to start as funds are scarce at present but would love to hear more ideas etc.
  • maitribria said on March 9, 2015
    I'm from India....i want to start bistro in my location could you suggest me how to start and for the budget

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