How to Break Into the L.A. Restaurant Scene

As a new restaurant owner, you’ll want to find an ideal location to open your business that matches your desired aesthetic, customer base, cuisine, and the overall feel of this exciting new venture. When deciding where to open a new business, many restaurants choose sunny Los Angeles.

If you’re planning on opening a food service business in L.A., first understand what the existing restaurant scene looks like so you can break into it as effectively as possible. Why is the City of Angels such a hotspot for restaurateurs?

Why Do Restaurants Love L.A.?

It’s not a random coincidence that restaurants flock to this West Coast city. L.A. is diverse, so no matter what type of cuisine you serve, there’s a guaranteed audience for it. Since so many individuals also come to L.A. to make it big, you have a variety of up-and-coming chefs you can hire to make your restaurant something truly special.

Los Angeles also has a temperate climate that’s ideal for restaurants because a lot of ingredients and products are available all year round, so you don’t have to adjust your menu seasonally. Opening costs also tend to be lower in L.A. than in other, similarly big cities so it’s a good place to start if you want to experiment with a unique concept.

Like any city, there are also consumer trends that are specific to L.A. For example, casual dining is big there, so if you’re looking to break into the scene for the first time then you should consider this model. It’s the reason food trucks, noodle shops, and similar fast-casual concepts are so popular there. However, a lot of restaurants like L.A. specifically because it’s a unique atmosphere with a variety of cultural backgrounds and individual preferences that you can build your audience from no matter what kind of restaurant you open.

What Do New Restaurants Need to Know?

New restaurants might be tempted to adhere to exactly what other businesses in the area serve, look like, and do. Standing out from the crowd is a much more suitable way to make a name for yourself in a new city.

Attract your ideal customer base by first identifying who your target demographic is and then crafting appealing marketing campaigns specifically designed to draw them in. For example, in L.A. there’s a rising trend in the health-conscious consumer. Create a menu that offers dishes locals will want to try and specifically develop marketing to reach out to them, and your target audience will flock to you naturally.

Building loyalty is critical. In L.A., most residents need a vehicle to get out of their immediate neighborhood. As a business, you’ll rely on the people who live and work near your place of business, and you can’t afford to alienate your neighbors. That’s why it’s important to set up a shop in an area that will be receptive to your concept, cuisine, and price range—because it will be difficult to draw in people who don’t live close.

Next, develop and decorate your restaurant in a way that understands and exploits the limitations that come from setting up a shop in Los Angeles. For example, find floor layouts or wallpaper that makes space seem bigger than it really is. Use ingredients or create dishes that are more typical for a different location. Turn disadvantages into assets and make the city’s downsides work for you.

No matter how well your new restaurant concept is working out, there’s always more to learn from experienced restaurateurs who have been in this business a lot longer than you. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s always a learning curve when it comes to new endeavors; this is also why it’s important to choose your team with care, so you can learn the ropes with a small, manageable staff who help you understand the business from top to bottom. Get in on the ground floor of service to really see the customer experience and learn what your new guests want or expect from their visits, their first impressions, and more.

Opening a new restaurant in a new city can be tough, especially if you’ve never had a business there before. To start a new, Los Angeles restaurant that stands out from the crowd and showcases your creativity and all the uniqueness you have to offer, remember to have persistence and belief in your vision. Experiment with new ways to get your concept into the public conversation by trying out popular trends, curating your social media to appeal to the modern consumer, and holding events that showcase the best possible picture of your restaurant.

L.A. can be a difficult place to open a small business for the first time, but there’s a reason so many in the foodservice industry want to do it. Trust in the restaurant concept that you’ve created and find out what you can do with a new small business in a bright new city.

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