There’s no denying it: Restaurants are expensive to start, and expensive to run.

However, this business venture is always popular because of its promise of local fame and seemingly never-ending profits. While most restaurant investors know their venture will be a costly one, there are hidden fees and expenses that go unnoticed until they’re deep within the process.

You might have considered leasing costs, furniture purchases, and staff expenses, but there are a bevy of hidden costs that are inherent with a restaurant venture.

Read on to find out what you might have missed in your preparations and revise that business plan to reflect the full cost of your business aims.

The Possibility of Previous Liens

If you’re purchasing a restaurant from a former owner, do your research, and don’t take everything at face value.

Did the previous owner have outstanding bills that were never settled?

Remember that any liens placed on a property are attached to the title, not the owner of the property. This means, without disclosure form the seller, you might be purchasing yourself some debt.

Always have legal advisors look over contracts with you before signing, and make sure you run checks on the financial situation of an establishment before investing your money.

Insurance Issues

Insurance is essential when opening, and it goes far beyond property insurance.

You’ll also want to ensure your business and your personal assets are protected in case of legal action. You’d be amazed at the lawsuits that have been waged against restaurants in the past, including common slipups like sprouts missing from a sandwich and coffee being simply too hot.

Make sure you have a comprehensive restaurant insurance plan that covers injuries and accidents that might happen to patrons and staff alike.


Your restaurant could be serving the greatest dish known to man, but if potential customers don’t know about it, it’s guaranteed they won’t be coming in.

While personal recommendations and word-of-mouth advertising are integral to a successful restaurant, you can’t compete with the hundreds of other restaurants in your city without the proper advertising means.

Running your own social media channels is a great step, but it’s usually not enough to make you a standout in your area and market your restaurant.

Hiring professional marketing advertisers is often an essential step of the startup process, and it can cost a pretty penny. But more often than not, the investment is more than worth the payoff.

Alcohol Permits

Do you plan on serving alcohol in your restaurant? Prepare to pay big time to make this a reality, especially if you plan on serving a full range of alcohol—that means liquors and spirits on top of beer and wine.

You’ll find that liquor licenses vary in price depending on your location and the current competition and market.

Alcohol permits are limited, and while varied state laws have different regulations and procedures for the procurement of such a permit, one thing that’s comparable across the board is the great expense that comes along with a license to sell alcohol.

When state issuers run out of licenses, restaurateurs must purchase existing licenses, which can find prices fluctuating up and down on a regular basis.

Music Licensing

Music sets an ambiance, and if you’re looking to play some great tracks over the speakers while your patrons dine, you’ll have to shell out some money.

As your restaurant is qualified as a commercial business, you have to pay for the rights to music. While these fees aren’t astronomical, the extra $1,000 you’ll shell out each year can be an unpleasant surprise when you first get started.

Should you choose to forgo paying for music licensing, you can expect fines and lawsuits that will cost you a whole lot more.

Asset and Equipment Management in Restaurants

Independently owning and operating your own restaurant equipment has a multitude of practical benefits. But there are some equipment failures or other problems that require professional help — the sorts of things you might not want to risk attempting yourself.

Machinery such as fryers, ovens, and other commercial-grade equipment are essential to any business.

In this article, we will focus on the rental, acquisition, care, and maintenance of these back-of-house staples, as well as how to correctly identify when a problem with your equipment cannot be solved without expert help.

Rental and Acquisition of Commercial Equipment for Your Restaurant

Whether you are replacing existing machinery or just starting out in a new location, your acquisition of replacement parts doesn’t need to be difficult.

Online vendors provide the equipment you need in a timely fashion, all with the click of a few buttons.

Because independent owners are often very busy, online shopping for restaurant parts is the advantaged choice. Vendors that specifically sell restaurant machinery and parts are also well-versed in how to package the equipment in a way that ensures it is kept safe and secure, so when you receive your product, it is in good condition.

Care and Maintenance of Assets and Equipment

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There are two broad categories of asset and equipment issues and, while there are many subcategories that apply to one business or another, these two main groups are universal.

The first category of equipment malfunctions includes problems that can be solved on your own. And the second consists of problems that require professional help so as not to make the situation worse.

For example, the Frymaster Frypot comes with a lengthy, detailed instruction manual that contains information on how to clean the Frypot using the “boil-out” program after filling the machine with a mixture of cold water and detergent.

This kind of equipment maintenance is often simple and not overly complex. Detergent is an inexpensive, easy-to-obtain household product.

A messy Frypot can be solved on your own, no professional help required, but the second is a little bit harder to identify, but vitally important to be able to recognize.

The simple replacement of high-wear parts may, likewise, be a relatively simple matter.

But, of course, this isn’t always the case.

Product Maintenance

Caring for your commercial-grade equipment, whether rented or purchased, is not something that can be done in a stagnated or languid fashion.

Consider your restaurant machinery, right down to the nuts and bolts, as an investment that requires daily maintenance and vigilance. This is not just for practical purposes, but also for safety reasons as well.

Often, product-related accidents are a result of inattention on the part of the owner. For example, commercial fryers come with a vent that diverts carbon monoxide into the vent hood so as to prevent the poisonous gas from escaping.

The malfunction of this safety feature, whether due to rust or common wear-and-tear, can be disastrous and incredibly dangerous.

Fires and other restaurant-related tragedies might be avoidable by performing a daily appraisal of how well your equipment is functioning and whether something needs attention or replacement.

When to Call for Professional Help

The key to knowing when you’re out of your depth is when you find yourself either wildly guessing the right way to fix something. When you get to the point of thinking “maybe if I try this…” or “I wonder if this will help” it might be time to step away, for fear of putting a critical piece of equipment in further danger

. For example, if there is a jammed switch, banging on it with a hammer can easily cause far more damage to the product than was there before you tried to fix it.

The more extensive the damage, the costlier a mistake made while attempting to fix it is likely to be. It will likely save you more money to have a specialist look at the problem with an expert’s eye than to place the equipment — and yourself — at further risk.

Back-of-house staples, such as fryers, ovens, and freezers are vital to the success of your restaurant business.

Treat them like an investment and take care of them through regimented daily routines as indicated in the equipment documentation can go a long way towards protecting and prolonging the life of your restaurant.

The tools of your trade take care of your business every day, and as an owner, you owe it to your business to return the favor.

Rely on the documentation and rely on your training and experience, but if these are found lacking, rely on a professional repair specialist.

Before fully investing yourself (and your capital) into a restaurant venture, make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of all the last-minute costs that might go into setup and maintenance of the business.

Knowing about all of these facets will help you budget and prepare more wholly, and decrease your chances of running into surprise, business-ruining costs.