How to start a restaurant business

So, you’re thinking of starting a restaurant? Perhaps you’re a foodie with a knack for all the right ingredients needed to cook up that great dish. Or perhaps you’ve received the highest accolades for your dishes in the past, and you feel it’s time to take that critical step towards monetizing your talent.

An empty restaurant

If all the above is true for you, then you’re in the right place. With our sure-to-succeed business tips on the food business, not to mention our continuous research and interviews with already successful restaurant business owners, we bring to you all there is to know about starting a restaurant business in Nigeria…or anywhere else.

Before we start…

Let’s take a quick look at the restaurant market in Nigeria. According to research by Statista, the Nigerian restaurant industry gained $1,113 million in revenue earnings as of January 2024 to March 2024.

Statista further projected that restaurant business owners’ earnings are expected to increase in the coming years by 37.7%.

The projected figures have been on a constant rise since the 2000s, with some restaurants raking in the profits constantly.

Nigeria currently has over 200 million people scattered across 36 states and a capital territory; this figure makes it the sixth largest country on earth, the largest in Africa, and the largest black nation on the planet.

With an increased population, there’s bound to be a resultant boost in businesses offered, especially in the restaurant business.

Having discussed the market outlook, let’s get started on opening your restaurant by looking at the types of restaurants available for you to open.

Types of Restaurants to Open in Nigeria

The restaurant business comes in all types that suit the convenience of customers. Some customers love it fancy, while others simply want their meal fast. 

Here are some of the known ways Nigerian restaurant owners have delivered their businesses to the public:

a. Quick-stop restaurants

Quick-stop restaurants are places offering foods at a friendly price and in a quick manner. 

This kind of restaurant comes in varying shapes and is the most popular restaurant type in Nigeria. If you are considering starting a restaurant business in Lagos, then this type would be best for you when on a budget. 

Most foods sold in quick-stop restaurants are swallows, rice, and others. Nonetheless, pastries and snacks are rarely sold in quick-stop restaurants.

b. Fast-foods restaurants

Another type of restaurant on the rise is fast-food restaurants. Similar to quick-stop restaurants, fast-food restaurants offer numerous delicacies, most of which are pastries and snacks. 

The rise of fast-food chains has become a trend in Nigeria today, with business owners concentrating on quick service and fast meals. 

The idea behind the fast-food business is to gain increased access to people through more outlets and cheaper prices.

c. Diners

Diners are similar to quick-stop restaurants, but with a slight difference. The difference is that diners do not offer fast, already-made foods. 

In a diner, there’s always a chef who makes the meals ordered from scratch and serves them to the customer. Aside from this feature, quick-stop shares the remainder of the features with quick-stop restaurants. 

Diners often have a calm and simple environment for meals but are a bit more expensive than the quick-stop restaurant foods.

d. Fine dining

Fine dining restaurants often follow certain rules of ethics. 

Fine dining restaurants are often very expensive, provide excellent environments, and often have slow food delivery. 

The slower delivery of food in fine dining is predicated on the perfection and adherence to ethics by the chefs of the restaurant while making your meal.

e. Virtual Restaurants

The rise of the digital era brought about numerous changes in the Nigerian market. The Nigerian restaurant industry wasn’t left behind, with increased access to virtual restaurants online.

From social media to websites, there exists a group of fully automated restaurant businesses providing delicious meals online to people from the comfort of their couch. 

Tips on How to Start Your Restaurant Business

Having looked at the types of restaurants available, let’s dive into how you can get started with your restaurant business. 

To start up your restaurant business, apply these steps to get started:

a. Understand the market

Understand the restaurant market in the area where you want to start your restaurant business. 

Each market is unique, and not all areas and states in Nigeria are the same. For instance, a restaurant food business that does not offer certain cultural foods to Nigerians may not be profitable in the short run.

b. Have a business plan

A business plan is the strategy and all the necessary equipment you'll need for your new restaurant. 

You’d have to conduct market surveys and research on the prices of goods and utensils in the market and place them all in your business plan. 

Your business plan must be easy to understand, simple, and cover all the things needed to start the restaurant.

c. Get a nice location

This is perhaps the most challenging part of starting your restaurant business. You’d have to meet up with agents and landlords to discuss the options available to you. 

Also, take time to inspect every area proposed to you by your agent.

The type of restaurant you choose influences the kind of location you will be using. 

For instance, if you choose a virtual restaurant, your concern for a location moves from the traditional physical venue to an online platform that would aid your business.

d. Get all that is needed

At this point, it is crucial to get all the necessary equipment needed to start your restaurant. 

At this stage, the business plan you made earlier would come in handy. 

Some of the general equipment you should be looking to get are pots, cookers, spoons, plates, etc.

e. Register your restaurant

Having your restaurant registered should be a vital process for compliance. 

Nonetheless, it is ideal to have this done last because the government and regulators would have to inspect the facilities at the restaurant in some jurisdictions.

You should also, at this point, register with the Corporate Affairs Commission as a Business name or as a Limited Liability Company.


Starting a restaurant is a daunting task to undertake. 

Nonetheless, following the tips and steps in this post makes the workload a whole lot easier. 

After staring your restaurant, continue maintaining your restaurant's growth by researching new spices and ingredients.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to acquire State licences to start a restaurant?

Yes, ideally, in some states in Nigeria, the local or state government gives consent to all restaurant owners in the jurisdiction.

Should I hire employees for my restaurant immediately?

It depends. So, because you’re starting, it is best to scale the business and then employ workers. Nonetheless, if you have the money to fund the workers, then you can opt to go ahead while you scale.