Is Your Food Truck Ready for Brick-and-Mortar? 5 Tips for Opening a Standalone Restaurant in Denver, CO

Denver is a restaurateur’s dream. It’s full of young, trendy residents and it’s a growing food mecca. However, transitioning from a food truck to a commercial kitchen isn’t always the easiest task, even if you’re in a less competitive metro like Fort Collins or Boulder. On top of that, there’s a lot to consider when you’re moving from a smaller truck to a larger brick-and-mortar.

From purchasing restaurant equipment to handling upgrades and repairs, if you’re ready to make the leap to a commercial building in Denver, here’s what you need to know.

Understand the market.

First and foremost, you need to know the local clientele. While a chain restaurant might work in a place like Greeley, most Denverites are looking for trendier dining experiences. While you don’t have to immediately go to the more upscale side of things, you should understand that many residents like one-of-a-kind menus and atmospheres. The city is very open to food from different cultures and even business owners without years of experience are able to succeed. However, Denver’s foodservice industry can also be cutthroat so you need to know what diners are looking for and how to give it to them.

Your location is everything.

While you may be tempted to buy property in the heart of the 16th Street Mall, Denver is full of up-and-coming locations that could make for some stunning eateries. Of course, for a city with a fair amount of history, you might end up buying a fixer-upper instead of something that’s new construction. In particular, many buildings in the Denver Metro area could use a bit of roof repair.

Often, the best way to find this is simply by Googling “commercial roofing Denver CO.” Building a relationship with a commercial roofing contractor can help your new restaurant stay in good shape for years to come. Of course, you’ve probably never needed a Denver roofing contractor for your food truck so you need to find roofing contractors that really know their stuff. Plenty of commercial roofers offer free estimates too, which helps when you’re looking at a roof replacement.

Get the right equipment.

While your food truck is probably equipped with fryers, an oven, and a refrigerator, you’re going to need more commercial restaurant equipment to succeed. Commercial restaurant equipment is going to be different than the cooking equipment you used on the truck. From coolers to higher-quality flatware, there’s a lot to consider when you’re buying commercial cooking equipment. You want reliability for your appliances and accessories and you don’t want to skimp when you purchase pieces of restaurant equipment or your customer satisfaction could quickly dip. As a business owner, you need to know how to spot quality products. Luckily, most restaurant supply and food prep equipment can be found at wholesale prices.

Find the right staff.

Since Denver is so food-inclined, you’re going to want staff members that are durable and in it for the long haul. Every new restaurant dreams of having long-term staff members but it doesn’t always work out that way. Luckily, since Denver is friendly for commuting, you can source staff members from the surrounding areas like Littleton, Highlands Ranch, and Englewood. Just have solid COVID-19 policies in place to ensure staff members feel safe. This will help ensure top-notch customer service.

Simplify that menu.

Diners in Denver want clear, concise menus, whether you’re opening a bakery or a cafeteria-style restaurant. Luckily, as a food truck owner, you’re already familiar with condensed menus so you’ll have a leg up in this department. Just make sure that your menu gets to the core of your restaurant’s culinary mission.

From getting a free inspection for your new location’s roof to pursuing the right staffing metrics, there’s plenty to be said about making the jump from a food truck to a standalone spot in Denver. Whether you need waterproofing or a commercial mixer, the city is full of tools at your disposal. Connect with the culinary community and see what can happen. You could become the next “it” eatery.

Dragan Sutevski

Posted by Dragan Sutevski

Dragan Sutevski is a founder and CEO of Sutevski Consulting, creating business excellence through innovative thinking. Get more from Dragan on Twitter. Contact Dragan