How to Open a Restaurant in Thailand

Written by Posted On Thursday, 03 January 2019 21:56

Whether you’re an expat who wants to start a business to earn income or a local who wants to own your own business, one of the better opportunities lies in opening your own restaurant. You can profit from tourists eating out or locals who want someone else to do the cooking. However, there is more to opening a restaurant than deciding you’ll do the cooking. Let’s discuss how to set up a restaurant business in Thailand.


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Do Your Research

Before you go any further, do your research. You shouldn’t try to open a restaurant when there are three competitors doing the same thing in the same neighborhood. Nor should you try to open a restaurant if there’s no demand for that type of service. Find out what sells well in a given area, but where local demand isn’t sufficiently met. If you are thinking of buying an existing business, due diligence is all the more important.

Choose a Restaurant Concept

You cannot reasonably offer something to everyone. Nor will you stand out in a crowded marketplace if you try to offer something of everything. The solution is to have a specific concept and brand. Find a consulting firm that will help you with restaurant concept development to help you find a viable concept that will resonate with the local audience. Whether you’re offering American food to expats and locals or a fusion of food styles that offers something novel to everyone, decide what you want to be from the outset. This will determine your décor, your menu, and your marketing campaign.

Understand the Necessary Legal Framework

Restaurants in Thailand must be registered with the Department of Business Development. Foreign investors must apply for a Thai business visa, as well. Another factor to consider is food quality and food safety standards. Get all the necessary permits and licenses before you start serving food.

Do the Math

Create a restaurant business plan. How much does it cost to operate a business like you’re envisioning? An upscale restaurant needs to be located where there are enough of these customers to fill the tables. What will you have to pay in rent? How much does it cost to buy food and pay food preparers, and how much will customers pay for it? Don’t assume people will pay far more than they’re already paying the competition, and don’t use overly-optimistic numbers. Create a budget that will generate significant cash flow in your worst-case scenario.

Know That You May Need to Make Changes

Have a minimal menu at the start so that you can test concepts and get the core offerings perfect before you diversify. Understand that you may need to make changes to the menu to increase your profits and drop what isn’t selling well. You shouldn’t try to totally revamp the restaurant concept, such as switching from a pizza shop to a salad bar. Plan to update the menu, such as adding novel products once in a while to attract new business or keep people coming back for something new. You can minimize the risk by starting small or going with a “soft opening” before you scale up.


Starting a restaurant may seem like an impossible dream, but it is possible. However, you have to have a proper plan before you take action if you want to succeed.

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