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How to Open a Hamburger Restaurant


Unique burger toppings can keep customers returning for more.

If your goal is to work for yourself and you love to cook, consider starting your own restaurant. As a business owner, you can set your own hours and have the freedom to be as creative as you’d like.  Hamburgers provide a quick and easy meal for business people, families and friends who are meeting up for a meal. Although hamburgers are a fairly simple food to create, remember that you will be competing with fast food places and numerous restaurants that offer the same thing. To transform your hamburger restaurant into a true “joint,” you will need perseverance, imagination and a unique theme for your shop.


Find a location that gets a lot of foot traffic, such as a busy shopping mall, strip mall or business district. If you can find a building that already has a commercial kitchen, you will save money on renovations to a building that does not have a kitchen. Make sure the location has ample floor space for tables, chairs and a counter.

Perfect Your Recipes

Perfect your basic hamburger recipe and create unique toppings and dressing. Take the time to experiment and find a hamburger patty that is better than anything else out there. Attend local culinary institutes for training. Cook for family and friends. Once your basic hamburger patty is the way you want it, begin to experiment with unique toppings your customers won’t be able to find anywhere else. Try new things, like mango, mayonnaise with jalapeno and unique cheeses. You should also offer a plain hamburger and cheeseburger for finicky diners.

Equipment and Decorations

Purchase equipment, lay out the joint and decorate. You will need a commercial grill, oven, refrigeration, counter space, cash register, chairs and tables. Next, set up the table and chairs and counter area. Look at how traffic will flow during busy times and set up tables to avoid traffic jams. Finally, add finishing touches such as unique centerpieces, paintings and a jukebox.

Permits and Licenses

Obtain permits and licenses. For a restaurant, you need a food handlers permit. This can be obtained through the department of health. You can also take food safety courses through the department of health to help ensure you avoid passing on food borne illnesses to your patrons. You will also need a business license, which can be obtained through the secretary of state. This will allow you to collect and pay sales tax.

Grand Opening

Organize a grand opening extravaganza. One idea is to invite local celebrities for a free meal and entertainment at your new hamburger joint. You will need to provide security and hire a local band to play. You should also send press releases to local media, as you may get some free publicity through an article or radio spot. Place an ad in your local newspaper in the food section. Use a coupon ad to track how many people the ad reaches. Pass out fliers at local businesses and offer a small discount to anyone who mentions the flier.

Additional Tips

  • Offer delivery to local businesses to gain lunchtime revenue.
  • Offer birthday parties as a way to gain new customers.
  • Train your employees to treat the customers with kindness and respect. Poor customer service will drive customers away.


Lori Soard has worked online designing websites, writing, editing and promoting clients since 1997. Through Promo Warriors, she's consulted with over 100 clients to help them figure out what online presence works best for them. In addition to helping people learn how to start their own businesses, she writes feel-good books about the way love and the world should be.