Culinary Dreams Abroad: A Non-Resident’s Guide to US Restaurant Success

Setting up a restaurant in the United States can be a dream come true for many aspiring restaurateurs from around the world. However, for non-residents, navigating the complexities of American business regulations and the unique nuances of the food industry can be a challenging endeavor.

According to Fortune Business Insights, the food service market was valued at $824.61 billion in 2022. Non-residents eager to invest in this sector have a lot of opportunities. All they need is a bit of guidance.

From legal considerations to understanding the market and building a brand, there are crucial steps to take to ensure your restaurant’s success. In this article, we will explore a few expert tips for setting up a restaurant in the US as a non-resident. These will help you turn your culinary passion into a profitable venture.

Legal Structure and Visa Requirements

Firstly, it’s essential to address the legal aspects of setting up a restaurant in the US as a non-resident. For that, you must first set up a legal entity for your business. The most common options include a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Corporation.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so consulting with an attorney or a business advisor who specializes in foreign-owned businesses is crucial. They can help you choose the best structure based on your long-term goals and taxation considerations.

Additionally, obtaining the right visa is paramount. It’s essential to work with an immigration attorney who specializes in these visa categories, as navigating the US immigration system can be complex. Ensuring that your legal structure and visa status are in order will provide a solid foundation for your restaurant venture.

Market Research and Location Selection

Understanding the US market and selecting the right location for your restaurant is vital to its success. Market research should encompass a thorough analysis of local food trends, consumer preferences, competition, and demographic data. Consider hiring a market research firm that specializes in the restaurant industry to gather valuable insights and make informed decisions.

When it comes to choosing the location, it’s not just about finding a trendy neighborhood. According to U.S. News & World Report, New Orleans, Chicago, and Los Angeles are some of the most popular food cities in the country. However, the question is, can these cities deliver the customers you’re targeting with your restaurant?

Factors like foot traffic, proximity to suppliers, accessibility, and zoning regulations play a significant role in choosing such locations for a restaurant. Conduct site visits and engage with local real estate professionals to find the ideal location that aligns with your concept and target market.

Licensing and Permits

Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits for your restaurant is a difficult yet crucial step. Anytime you think about setting up a company in the USA, in whichever industry, you need to obtain certain types of permits first. For a restaurant, these licenses can include health permits, liquor licenses, food service permits, signage permits, and more.

Working with a local attorney or consultant who is well-versed in the specific requirements of your chosen location is essential. According to USA Corporate Services, with the right skills in company formation, immigration, etc., setting up a company in the USA becomes easy. Also, there are many third-party organizations that can help you out with the whole setup and the company registration process.

Financial Planning and Funding

Sage reports that the average restaurant startup can cost you around $3,046 per seat for a leased building. Costs can climb up to $3,734 per seat if you want to own the building. Needless to say, financial planning is a fundamental aspect of setting up any business, and the restaurant industry is no exception.

As a non-resident, you’ll need to secure funding for your venture. Your funds can come from personal savings, loans, or even crowdfunding. You can even go on the hunt for investors. Make sure you have a comprehensive business plan that outlines all your costs. This plan is essential for attracting investors and even securing loans.

Additionally, consider building a strong relationship with a local bank or financial institution. Having a US-based business account and a clear financial track record can help establish trust with potential partners and suppliers.

Staffing and Training

Your restaurant’s success is heavily reliant on the quality of your staff. Hiring and training the right team is a critical aspect of setting up and running a restaurant in the US. Take the time to recruit skilled chefs, experienced wait staff, and efficient kitchen personnel.

Invest in comprehensive training programs to ensure that your staff understands your restaurant’s concept, menu, and service standards. Employee retention is vital, as a high turnover rate can negatively impact your restaurant’s reputation and profitability.


As a non-resident, setting up a restaurant is one of the best business options in the US. Of course, this road won’t be an easy one to take. Yet, as long as you can stick to the tips discussed above, traversing this road will become a lot less difficult.

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