Setting up a restaurant business
My husband and I are chefs and have always dreamed about setting up our own restaurant, but it’s so expensive in the UK. While on holiday in Normandy recently, we saw a restaurant up for sale in a pretty, touristy village and were amazed by how cheap it was. Ever since we got back we’ve been daydreaming about moving there. But how easy would it be to do this? I know you can’t tell us everything but where do we start? What do we need to think about first? Name supplied
Tracy Leonetti, director of Leonotti Business Services (lbsinfrance.com) replies: I’m a great believer in following your dreams and making them happen but, of course, planning ahead is extremely important, especially if you are thinking of setting up a business in France!
The first key point would be to ensure the restaurant concept is clear (theme, menu, decoration, pricing) along with the business plan and market study so that you know your project is viable before investing. Ask yourself the right questions and if you are not sure what they are, then get some help.
On the practicalities in France, here are some pointers to get you started:
The business will need to be registered with many organisations: the RCS (trade and companies register), the SSI (social security for businesses) and the tax office.
For help with these formalities I would highly recommend that you make an appointment with the local CCI ( chambre de commerce) in the area you are thinking of opening your restaurant as they can accompany you through the preparation of your business plan and with the business formalities.
They can also discuss the different types of legal and fiscal structures for your restaurant. It’s very important to understand the options open to you as the cost of running a business can be high.
- Licences and training courses
You will need an operating licence ( permis d’exploitation) if you are thinking of serving alcohol during the meals. If you want to serve alcohol outside of the meals, you will need to apply for a bar licence called a ‘ licence de débit de boissons à consommer sur place’.
To obtain this permis a two-and-a-half-day operating licence training course needs to be followed, costing approximately €550. You will be issued with a certificate at the end of this course that needs to be given to your local mairie (town hall) in order to get your licence. So, again, a good point of contact would be to go and see the local mairie in the area you are wanting to set up your business. They are generally helpful with the paperwork so get them involved in your project early on !
- Health and safety
You will also need to attend an obligatory hygiene training course. This training course lasts two days and any chef you employ should have done this training course but it’s a good idea that you follow the course too, as you will be ultimately responsible for your restaurant and its hygiene.
For the training courses, there are a few organisations and which one you choose may depend on where your business will be and their availability for courses. Here is one to get you started: www.umihformation.fr
Chambre de commerce and directory: www.cci.fr/web/portail-acfci/accueil
One last word of advice, work towards your dream, one step at a time!