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How To Start a Restaurant or Food Business


in Singapore
L A S T U P D AT E D : D E C E M B E R 7 , 2 0 1 6

E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P ( H T T P : // S E T H L U I . C O M / C A T E G O R Y / E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P / ) | F & B R E S T A U R A N T
M A R K E T I N G ( H T T P : // S E T H L U I . C O M / C A T E G O R Y / F O O D - B E V E R A G E - M A R K E T I N G / )

Seth Lui (http://sethlui.com/author/sethlui/)


Chief Food Hunter. Seth doesn't promise good reviews, only honest ones.
Occasionally gets angry emails from restaurant owners for not giving a stellar
writeup. Instagram: @sethluicious

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Starting a Restaurant, Cafe or F&B business in


Singapore
This article is a little more technical and is especially useful as a broad overview for rst
time Food & Beverage entrepreneurs who want to know how to start a restaurant. For
overseas investors looking to set up a business in Singapore, this guide will provide highly
useful information as well. Im speaking from the perspective of someone who has rst
hand experience opening an F&B outlet before, rather than an inexperienced person who
just heard how its done from someone.
In 10 steps, I will show you how to execute and start a Restaurant or Food and Beverage
business in Singapore. Remember, were covering the basic setting up of an F&B business,
not the operating or running of one, which I can easily write another 100 page article
about. This is pretty basic stuff that every food entrepreneur should be familiar with if you
want to enter the F&B industry in Singapore.

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1. Planning Your Restaurant Business


If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Always have a business plan even if its only 1 or 2
pages long. I would however recommend you to think through each step of the process
thoroughly and come up with a more detailed plan.
Your business plan should include nancial projections, budgeting, marketing strategy,
pricing plan, operations, suppliers list, hiring policies, service standards etc just to name a
few.
Also, it de nitely helps to think of your exit strategy and contingency plan for as many
unexpected situations as possible. Things go wrong all the time, and you need to be
ready. First time owners also tend to under budget, and you dont want your funds to run
out half way before even completing the project.

2. Raising Capital
For a successful F&B concept in Singapore, its going to take a lot of capital. This is due to
high rental rates, high labour cost and just an overall higher cost of living. Depending on
the size of your establishment, it will take anything from S$50,000 S$600,000 or more.
You need to gure out where the capital is coming from, as well as leave enough for cash
reserves and operating capital. A rough gauge is leaving 3 months of pure overhead
expenses as reserves.
If you nd that you need to scrimp and save to setup an F&B concept, I would recommend
not starting one at all. Many times F&B owners cut corners by having inferior
renovations/design, underpaying staff, or worst of all, getting a lousy location that has
cheap rent thinking you can overcome location with your superior cuisine. Guess what,
you might burn off all your cash with losses every month before people even hear about
your restaurant.

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Revolution Coffee: New & Improved


Nasi Lemak By Chef Shen Featuring 10
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Every single factor counts to the success of an F&B business, and you need to know what

(http://sethlui.com/revolution-coffee-singapore/)

you can compromise on, and what is off limits no matter what.You will de nitely also
want to cater a sum to invest in marketing and PR at the start as well, which is critical for
any new restaurant. Lack of awareness is a huge problem from most of the clients I have
consulted with, so plan for it well at the start.
Related Guide:10 Things To Know Before Starting an F&B business
(http://sethlui.com/before-starting-up-singapore-food-business/)

3. Incorporating your F&B company


Time to take your business legit. Just follow the appropriate links Ive given below and in
any doubt, call the appropriate hotlines.
If you are a foreigner, you will rst need to apply for an Entrepass with the Ministry of
Manpower (http://www.mom.gov.sg/foreign-manpower/passes-visas/entrepass/beforeyou-apply/pages/default.aspx). For locals, if you already have a Singpass
(https://www.singpass.gov.sg), the next step is to head to Accounting and Corporate
Regulatory Authorities Biz le portal (http://www.biz le.gov.sg). If not, get your Singpass
(https://www.singpass.gov.sg) rst. Foreigners will need a Singpass also, after getting
your Entrepass.
Name Reservation

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( H T T P : // S E T H L U I . C O M / 2 0 1 7 / 0 1 / 2 6 / )

Cheese Story Mookata Buffet: Free


Flow Oysters & Other Seafood For
Under $30
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JANUARY 25, 2017

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Duck For Only $16 in Singapore
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At the Biz le portal, determine the type of company to register. I would recommend the
Local Company (Public/Private Limited) option for limited liability restricted to your
business entity only. As the portal is not very intuitive, make sure to click Local
Companytab, then click on Apply for a New Company Name.Go through the steps and

Lets Meat Up: Affordable Robatayaki &


Japanese Fusion Dishes At Plaza
Singapura
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make payment (S$15).


JANUARY 25, 2017

*For information on the different types of companies, partnerships or sole proprietary,


visit ACRA. (http://www.acra.gov.sg/)
Company Registration
After your Company name has been approved and payment made, you will then need to
pay and incorporate your company with your reserved name under Biz le again.
Registration fees cost S$50-S$600 for locals, or S$300 -S$1200 for foreigners depending
on type of company.
Personally the biz le portal isnt very user-friendly and I hit some road bumps while
registering myself. For further clari cations, do give ACRA a call at +656248 6028
duringMondays Fridays : 9.00am 6.00pm.

4. Looking for the Right F&B Location

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( H T T P : // S E T H L U I . C O M / 2 0 1 7 / 0 1 / 2 5 / )

Three Legs Cooling Water: Celebrating


80 Years Of Cool With New Flavours
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Next, you will need to nd the perfect location to setup your restaurant. The popular ways
to achieve this include:
Newspaper- The Straits Times classi eds
Propertyguru.com.sg (http://www.propertyguru.com.sg/)(many posts are also
made by real estate agents)
Spamming multiple real estate agents (http://sethlui.com/good-singaporeproperty-agent/)

CAT EG ORIES
Categories
Select Category

Cold calling landlords


Personally, I nd getting multiple real estate agents (http://sethlui.com/good-singaporeproperty-agent/) to source locations for you to be the easiest and quickest. The down side
is that certain locations will require you to pay 1 months rent commission to the real
estate agent, like for big shopping malls. Most smaller, private landlords will however pay
the commission to the real estate agent instead if the deal is done.
When using real estate agents, make sure you already know your space size requirement,
electrical requirements (M&E), the ideal areas in Singapore you would prefer, and the type
of cuisine you are doing so that agents know what to focus on, and what to propose to the
landlord.
Related Guide:Guide to Rental Rates in A Shopping Mall in Singapore
(http://sethlui.com/rental-rates-shopping-mall/)

5. Design and Build your Restaurant

(http://sethlui.com/wp-

content/uploads/2014/02/IMG_4286.jpg)
Source for a good interior designer, architect and contractor to create your dream
restaurant. The interior designer usually has the contact for contractors he has worked
with. A good restaurant design is the rst step to creating an impression and attracting
new customers into your restaurant. Repeat business will come after being satis ed by
the food and service.
Some contractors might quote a very cheap price, but that usually means they are using
cheap materials to build, which are less durable and may need to be replaced or
refurbished after a year, incurring more expenses.
A rough gauge is to spend around $100 $120 per square foot of area. So for a 1000 sqf
restaurant, you should be spending around $100,000 S$120,000 on renovations and
furniture (excluding kitchen equipment).
Other things to note is the planning of your kitchen layout in the most optimal, ef cient
manner. Get a professional kitchen planner if you are unsure, as this can increase
productivity signi cantly.

6.Getting your Licenses and Registrations


There are many mandatory license to apply for, and others depending on your concept- is
it a cafe, restaurant or bar? Here are the common ones for Food & Beverage in Singapore
with the appropriate hyperlinks that will lead you on the path of getting all the required
licenses.
Food Shop License
(https://licences.business.gov.sg/SHINE/sop/WebPageHandler?
p=OASIS&pn=SelectLicences&LicenceID=1002&ss=FAQ)to operate a food stall,
apply only after you have signed the tenancy agreement and your interior layout
plan has been nished.
Basic Food Hygiene Course (http://www.wda.gov.sg/content/wdawebsite/L207AboutWSQ/L301-WSQIndustryFrameworkFoodandBeverage/WSQ_Follow_FnB_Safety_and_Hygiene_Policies_and_Procedures.html)sign
up to get certi ed for all food handlers.
Liquor License (http://www.spf.gov.sg/licence/frameset_LL.html)if intending to
sell liquors/beers. There are several classes.
Importing Foods (https://licences.business.gov.sg/SHINE/sop/WebPageHandler?
p=OASIS&pn=SelectLicences&ss=FAQ&LicenceID=1420)through theFood Control

Division,Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).


Halal License (http://www.muis.gov.sg/Services/e-services.html)if serving halal
customers.
Registering forCentral Provident Fund (CPF) (http://www.cpf.gov.sg/)as an
Employer. CPF is a social security savings plan mandatory for all Singapore
employers to contribute to as a percent of monthly salary, usually at 16%.
*Optional*Registering for 7%Government Service Tax (GST)
(http://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/page04.aspx?id=9002). Mandatory only if your
company annual turnover is over S$1 million.
Also, check out a summary checklist by EnterpriseOne
(http://www.enterpriseone.gov.sg/en/Resources/Howto%20Guides/Checklists%20and%20Flowcharts/chk_startRest.aspx)

7. Purchasing Kitchen Equipment

(http://sethlui.com/wp-

content/uploads/2014/02/chefs-in-kitchen-1024x670.jpg)
First, you need to settle the large ticket items like your combi-oven, salamander, stoves,
freezers and chillers. There are many companies that sell commercial kitchen products.
Jackies (http://www.jackies-ent.com/)or U-Save (http://www.u-save.com.sg/)for
example serve generic and common F&B equipment that you can consider.
1-for-1 FREE Restaurant Deals in Singapore HOW? (http://sethlui.com/entertainer-singapore-app-1-for-1-offers/)
You will also need to get restaurant standard utensils, rather than just using the
ubiquitous Ikea cutlery. At Temple street, Sia Huat (http://www.siahuat.com/) and Lau
Choy Seng (http://www.lauchoyseng.com/)are 2 of the favorite shops for restauranteurs
and chefs. Catering to our local food industry speci cally, state that you are in the F&B
business and get a 20% discount. They might require some veri cation though, like your
name card.

8. Hiring Service Staff


This is probably one of the biggest headaches in the Singapore F&B scene now. With a
tight noose on foreign talent quotas and low local demand for F&B jobs, hiring labour is a
goliath task.
First, you need to offer above industry rates to attract good talent. Link it to pro t sharing
if possible for managers. Make sure to screen and interview thoroughly, and it is always
better to get amiable, naturally friendly personalities rather than train them to smile. Some
people are born for the service line, others are thrown in because they have no other skill
set. Choose the passionate ones carefully.
Advertising in the local newspaper classi eds is one way to get interviews, but quite
costly. Online job portals will also yield more foreign inquiries rather than locals, but still a
feasible and cheaper option.
The best method Ive found to work is headhunting from other existing F&B
establishments. Although questionable in ethics, this yields you the best results after you
have personally seen them in action and the authentic service standards given. If you can
offer a better work environment with better pay, why not?

9. Execute the F&B Marketing Plan


Remember back in step one we talked about planning? Now is the time to execute your
marketing strategy. Your marketing plan needs to cover these 3 basic aspects:
Gaining awareness and trial purchase
Repeating customers
Referrals and word of mouth spreading

Many clients, as Ive mentioned, dont even have a basic plan to gain awareness. If
customers do not know you exist, how will they buy from you? And after knowing your
existence, what is it about your restaurant that compels them to give it a try? These are all
questions that should be addressed and thought out way before you even open your F&B
business or restaurant.

10. Get F&B Consultation


If you have no experience setting up a F&B business or have never worked a restaurant
oor, chances are that you are going to make loads of mistakes that will cost you tens of

thousands.
No experience cooking commercially? Get a chef consultant.Cooking for 40 people is
very, very different from cooking for 4 people, and even if you are a home cook, scalablity
comes with experience working in commercial, fast-paced kitchens.
No idea how to market you food business after it launches? Get an F&B marketing
specialist like myself. Good food is just one part of the equation, while good marketing is
the other. Its only logical tohave a plan on how to get customers in rst, before you throw
in a hundred thousand?

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Cooking Hacks That Will
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Yes, you might have to spend a couple thousand upfront, but successful business owners
know to look at the long run bene ts. Consultants can save you from wasting thousands
on inexperienced purchases and decisions, as well as earn you tens of thousands more
from the right business decisions. Ive seen far too many restaurants start up for a year,

First Name

then start to panic and spend money on all sorts of useless advertising. They also make
many mistakes, like using Groupon, or signing up to some street directory website
package. Plan it well right from the start, and get experienced help.
Subscribe

Need help on how tomarket yourF&B business in Singapore? Readmy


ebook (http://sethlui.com/food-restaurant-marketing-system/).
1-for-1 FREE Restaurant Deals in Singapore

HOW? (http://sethlui.com/entertainer-singapore-app-1-for-1-offers/)

(http://sethlui.com/food-restaurant-marketing-system/)
Comments. What Do You Think?
6 Comments

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Marcus Wong SEO Strategist at SEOGoodGuys


very informative! I also went and checked out the "street directory website package"...
super not worth it man..
Like Reply

1 Aug 20, 2014 11:17pm

Gargi Jain Studied in GSVM Medical college Kanpur.


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Like Reply Aug 27, 2015 2:27pm

Gargi Jain Studied in GSVM Medical college Kanpur.


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Like Reply Jul 18, 2015 2:07pm

Kevin Vt
Very good synthesis of the main step to open a restaurant! In case you want to be different
from your competitor, you can contact FuLuxe to source for premium&exclusive F&B
equipment : plates, glassware, linen and kitchen uniforms.
Like Reply Aug 18, 2015 3:45am

Gargi Jain Studied in GSVM Medical college Kanpur.


ARE YOU LOOKING FOR SHELF COMPANY IN INDIA ?
We have a selection of shelf companies for sale with various incorporation dates
to suit your needs. Whether you need a company which is 6 months old or 3 years
old, we will have a shelf company for you.
To purchase any of the shelf companies, FORWARD AN MAIL AT
companyindiaadvisors@gmail.com
If you would like to discuss your particular requirements with an expert, please call
us on 09810139673.
Purchase a Shelf Company
About Shelf Company
A shelf company is a company which has been registered and left with no activity
for several months or even ye... See More

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list to get updates &
myFREE Ebook: 26
Cooking Hacks That Will
Make You a Better Chef at
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Subscribe

Like Reply Aug 27, 2015 2:27pm

Gargi Jain Studied in GSVM Medical college Kanpur.


ARE YOU1-for-1
LOOKING
FOR
SHELF COMPANY
INDIA ?
FREE
Restaurant
Deals in IN
Singapore

HOW? (http://sethlui.com/entertainer-singapore-app-1-for-1-offers/)

We have a selection of shelf companies for sale with various incorporation dates to suit
your needs. Whether you need a company which is 6 months old or 3 years old, we will
have a shelf company for you.
To purchase any of the shelf companies, FORWARD AN MAIL AT
companyindiaadvisors@gmail.com
If you would like to discuss your particular requirements with an expert, please call us on
09810139673.
Purchase a Shelf Company
About Shelf Company
A shelf company is a company which has been registered and left with no activity for
several months or even ye... See More
Like Reply Aug 27, 2015 2:27pm

Andy Lee Tze Ern TELECOM & Management SudParis


Very comprehensive advice for starting F&B business in SG!
It'll be perfect if systems for F&B business are discussed here, as it's a critical part to
ensure the whole business operation runs smoothly...
I would recommend www.onplate.co if you are looking for a F&B POS system that can
improve your restaurant operation efciency and also keep your customers happy! It's the
next gen POS system.
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