Operating a Restaurant | 8 minute read

How to Start a Restaurant in Canada

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Getting into the restaurant industry in Canada is a life-changing decision. However, making restaurant business plans will expose you to various challenges. Though acquiring a sole proprietorship over a food service may seem like a complex endeavour, you can solve all problems and tackle all challenges with some preparation.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to become a restaurant owner in Canada, there are a few factors to remember, such as the liquor license, kitchen equipment, and the restaurant concept. Read on to learn more about all the licenses, permits, and other factors to consider before investing.

Everything you need to start a restaurant in Canada

Determining the right restaurant type and food you want to sell requires a lot of time, effort, and resources to make things work and turn your food service into a lucrative and thriving business.

Most investors wrongly believe that handling restaurant startup costs is the hardest part, but they’re wrong.

Assembling your restaurant menu and staying ahead of the latest restaurant trends is the most challenging part of managing a restaurant business. However, running a food establishment is a business just like any other.

You depend on menu items, operational expenses, and potential customers to ensure your restaurant becomes successful. Tackling all these challenges, mitigating average restaurant startup costs, and acquiring the proper business license requires making flexible and versatile restaurant business plans.

These steps will help you enter the restaurant industry with the most profitable restaurant business in the neighbourhood.

Today, we’ll discuss everything you need to complete the restaurant business registration and ensure compliance with the service style regulations, industry standards, restaurant insurance laws, and more.

We’ll also help you connect with business owners of restaurants with high foot traffic to establish relationships with the best restaurant consultants, vendors, etc.

Challenges of starting a restaurant in Canada

Image of a dining terrace in a restaurant for sale in Canada

Starting and running a successful restaurant in Canada is a massive challenge for fresh investors. Choosing the restaurant design that can guarantee the finest dining experience for each guest can be tedious.

Opening a dining restaurant exposes entrepreneurs to many challenges, such as:

  • Picking the target customers;
  • Obtaining restaurant funding;
  • Finding and hiring highly trained and experienced restaurant staff;
  • Purchasing the right restaurant equipment;
  • Selecting the restaurant design;
  • Investing in restaurant insurance;
  • Finding and buying a restaurant for sale in Canada.

On top of all these items on your list, there’s also a legal requirement to consider. Running a restaurant or any food service is subject to regulatory requirements.

Therefore, getting into food restaurants in Canada requires a carefully tailored business plan to ensure you manage all the licensing requirements, mandatory permits, food safety regulations, finances, and everything else you need to launch a quick-service restaurant.

In addition, starting a restaurant business won’t be enough to conquer the Canadian restaurant industry. You must think like a modern-day marketer to promote your food business.

That means you’ll need a social media marketing plan to attract prospective customers to your food dishes and turn your restaurant into a profitable business.

As you can see, there’s a lot to process here. It takes a lot of time and effort to complete the process and cope with the ongoing expenses. Since your business journey depends on the quality of customer experience, there’s no room for mistakes.

Thankfully, talking to a professional restaurant consultant can help you tackle all the challenges and handle unexpected problems that will inevitably arise when you least expect them.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to all these problems. However, you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. Here’s how.

Vital steps for starting a restaurant in Canada

Image of the outdoors of a restaurant for sale in Canada

Every entrepreneur’s adventure should start by making a solid business plan. Do thorough research on the current restaurant scene in your area of interest. Gather all the information you need to get started. It’s paramount to establish a stable operation from the get-go.

Your plan should include the following items:

  • Desirable form of cash flow;
  • Finance tracking;
  • Estimated profit potential;
  • Average labour and food costs;
  • Additional costs that might arise;
  • Personal income (if any).

Add everything else that goes into starting a restaurant business to your list to get a detailed overview of where you stand at the moment. Then, identify your main competitors and research the business strategies that make them so successful.

If you need help with estimations, consider checking reputable websites with cost templates that can help you assess your current financial potential. You can also find various user-friendly online business calculators that can help you estimate the initial cost of starting a restaurant in Canada.

Take your time to make sure you don’t skip any important details that may interfere with your restaurant operations.

Here are all the details that your restaurant business plan should include:

  • Executive summary
  • Detailed description and overview of your business
  • Market analysis
  • Marketing strategy
  • Business offerings
  • Management
  • Financial projections

How to acquire funding for starting a restaurant in Canada

Image of a take-out restaurant for sale in Canada

Once you gather an effective plan, the next step is to calculate your business budget. These calculations can give you rough financial projections so you know what to expect. Tread carefully here, as it’s critical to become eligible for commercial loans that will be the financial lifeblood of your restaurant business.

Your restaurant funding calculations should include all unexpected costs and hidden charges to ensure you cover all these expenses, including permits and licensing costs, until profits start pouring in.

Permit expenses can easily add up, as there are many regulations to worry about, such as building permits, liquor licenses, etc.

Though you can take care of this by yourself, we recommend consulting with professional advisors and financing specialists to determine the best course of action.

Hiring professional help is the most effective way to avoid taking unnecessary risks and ensure you obtain everything you need to start a restaurant in Canada.

More importantly, these professionals are familiar with the regulations, industry standards, and laws and can provide actionable insights into the best government programs and grants for startup businesses.

Obtaining funding for your business operations spares you the trouble of financing everything yourself and points you in the right direction.

How to obtain permits and licenses for starting a restaurant in Canada

Starting a restaurant business in Canada requires various licenses. However, the licenses you need to open a restaurant in Canada will depend on the type of restaurant you wish to establish. Additionally, you need permits to serve food and drinks in public.

The list of mandatory licenses for starting a restaurant in Canada may include:

  • Food vendors license;
  • Liquor license;
  • Building permits;
  • Business license;
  • Certificate of occupancy;
  • Music license.

Since most of these documents take a long time to get approved, we recommend getting on with the paperwork as soon as possible. Hiring a legal advisor could help you shorten the time of approval and ensure you do everything right.

Necessary equipment you need to start a restaurant in Canada

Buying necessary restaurant and kitchen equipment for your business can quickly bleed your budget dry. That’s why you must locate the most trustworthy sources of top-grade commercial equipment vendors and suppliers.

Aside from ensuring you get the high-end gear for your restaurant, you also get a chance to save time and resources along the way. Start by checking the wholesale equipment options to find the most cost-effective supplier for your budget.

Thankfully, this is where the rich and thriving economy of Canada comes into the picture. The country is home to the world’s most reputable specialized commercial equipment suppliers that can get you the best equipment deals for a reasonable price.

You can tap into a versatile and diverse selection of commercial kitchens, restaurant equipment, and hardware to supply your restaurant business with the latest innovations and technology.

The best resources for starting a restaurant in Canada

Since starting a restaurant business in Canada requires access to accurate and up-to-date information, here are the most trustworthy resources to help you make an informed decision.

The Menu Maker

The Menu Maker is a reputable website that helps restaurant owners create and establish original menus. You can tap into an impressive selection of features to add various dishes to your menu and even develop unique offers to beat your competitors.

The website can also boost your promotional skills to help you improve your overall restaurant presentation.

National Restaurant Association

The NRA is a professional organization that caters to the needs of Canadian restaurant businesses. The association has been in the business for over a century and can lend you the experience and expertise for positioning your brand in the industry.

The association can give you the competitive advantage to beat your competitors and establish a profitable business operation.

Restaurant Startup and Growth Magazine

This source provides vital information regarding restaurant management practices, workforce organization, hiring, talent-acquiring techniques, sales boost, cost control, and more.


Though it may seem overwhelming, starting a restaurant in Canada doesn’t have to be more complicated than it already is. In fact, the process is just like starting any other business from scratch.

As a new investor, you’ll have to find a way to tackle all the challenges associated with running a restaurant business, including obtaining funding, licenses, permits, and ensuring compliance with industry regulations.

However, don’t let all this discourage you. Start your entrepreneurial journey by doing thorough research and making the right connections with business professionals. Determine the best location for your restaurant and consult with legal advisors on the best ways to obtain the required permits and licenses.

Do your due diligence to reduce risks and minimize errors, and your business venture will quickly turn into an unstoppable money-making machine.


What types of restaurants are for sale in Canada?

Canada is home to one of the richest restaurant scenes in the world. You have an array of business options on your hands, including:

  • Food franchises;
  • Casual dining establishments;
  • Family-style restaurants and family dining;
  • Quick-service restaurants;
  • Full-service restaurants;
  • Fast food joints.

The type of restaurant business you opt for will depend on your preferred style of cuisine. The food & beverage industry is one of the leading economic sectors in the country, so you won’t have any trouble finding the right restaurant model for your business endeavour.

How can I find the right restaurant for sale in Canada?

We recommend visiting a real estate platform like Businesses 4 Sale. This real estate website provides accurate and up-to-date commercial listings of all available restaurants for sale in Canada.

Once you register for an account, you’ll receive a buyer’s guide along with access to advanced search features and filters for searching for restaurants for sale by location, category, type, and more.

In addition, Find Businesses 4 Sale gives you an extensive range of restaurant listings that you can customize through a personalized dashboard. Lastly, the platform provides user-friendly calculators and specialized navigation tools to streamline the entire process.

What are the benefits of buying an established restaurant in Canada?

The Canadian food service industry is one of the country’s most profitable and thriving sectors. That means the sector attracts top talent and gives you access to a skilled and loyal workforce.

Canada also has well-established restaurant businesses that ensure brand recognition, accurate market insights, a loyal guest base, and immediate cash flow.

Buying a restaurant in Canada gives you all the competitive advantage for focusing on brand innovation and expansion. You’ll get an opportunity to harness your existing stream of income and market knowledge and turn them into profitable business strategies for conquering the restaurant industry in Canada.


Written by

Manoj Kukreja is a real estate expert and trusted guide in the pursuit of the perfect property. With a remarkable professional journey, Manoj began his career in major Canadian financial institutions, achieving the prestigious Certified Financial Planner designation in 2010. During this time, they earned recognition as one of Canada's top ten financial planners and also played a role in training industry peers. Manoj's extensive financial background now serves as a valuable asset in the real estate domain, ensuring clients make informed decisions during their property search.

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