Food is much more than nourishment — it’s culture, it’s comfort, it’s a call to gather, and it’s…nourishment. Real foodies enjoy not only the taste of food, but they enjoy the presentation of dishes and the traditions they represent as well. If you’re a lover of delectable cuisine and the culinary arts, then opening a restaurant is a logical and rewarding career move.

While your passion for food will go a long way towards making you a successful restauranteur, you need more than that to make your restaurant a local gem. If you’re an ardent lover of food and an avid cook looking to open an eatery, continue reading to learn some things you must get right.

1. Choose a theme for your restaurant

Building a restaurant that people will want to return to time and again is as much about creating the right atmosphere as serving great food. You need to make your space welcoming and have a theme and decor that matches the type of food you serve and the “vibe” you want your place to exude.

One key thing to remember is that you should go with a hard surface for your floors. Carpet absorbs spills that will stain your floors and even cause odors over time. The best way to prevent that is to go with laminate planks or real hardwood floors. Laminate floor installation is more cost-efficient and durable than hardwood installation, but hardwood floors add an air of sophistication. Which is better for your place depends on your budget and the look and feel you want.

2. Hire qualified staff

One thing that you’ll learn quickly about being a restauranteur is that you can’t do it alone. You need staff that will be as adamant about the success of your business as you are.

You need to set objectives for your staff and your business and make sure your team has everything they need to achieve them. Your objectives and key results (OKR) will be the stick by which you measure your establishment’s success. OKR tracking software makes keeping up with your restaurant’s performance simple.

3. The location is key, so pick a good one!

Location is a determining factor for every business. When it comes to putting your restaurant in the right place, you need to be selective. Busy shopping centers off the interstate or a major highway are a great choice, but you need to make sure you have plenty of parking space.

4. Market to your target audience

No matter how great the food, service, and atmosphere are at your establishment, you’ll never capture all of the potential patrons in your area. With that in mind, you need to be intentional about what kind of crowd you’re looking to draw. Right now, millennials are the largest demographic of consumers in the U.S., and they prefer trendy restaurants that offer finger foods and fast service.

5. Choose the best food

The type of food you serve will go a long way towards cornering the market that’s going to make up your pool of patrons. Before you decide what kind of food you’ll serve, you need to make sure there’s a market for it in your area. For instance, a Caribbean restaurant may flounder in a state like Wyoming, but in contrast, a steakhouse may enjoy great success there.

6. Get the proper licensing

Each state has its own health, zoning, and building standards that eateries have to adhere to, so educate yourself about these requirements. Also, if you’re planning to serve alcoholic beverages, then you’ll have even more regulations that you have to satisfy. Make sure you get all of the proper licenses — many restaurants frame their licenses and hang them where customers and authorities can see them.

7. Do some research on the competition

In any business, it’s essential to know your competition. Sports teams have a strategy, but they still study film of their opponents. Visit your competitors, see what is and isn’t working for them, and incorporate what you learn into your business.

8. Stay passionate!

You will run into some hiccups with your staff, and you’ll come across disgruntled patrons as well. Those things are just part of being a restauranteur. Even in the times when stress mounts from dealing with a hard-to-please customer or hard-headed employee, you need to remember why you opened your business. Keep a warm smile, a positive attitude, and a sense of humor — after all, you’re living your dream.