Tom & Chee Home

Starting a Restaurant Franchise: A Step-by-Step Guide

It takes a lot of work to open a restaurant. Streamline the process by using our step-by-step guide to ensure you get it all done before opening day.


Instead of opening a restaurant on your own, you have chosen to franchise, and for very good reason. Franchising provides opportunities to restauranteurs from all backgrounds to help them succeed.

Now is the time to fully immerse yourself in the culture of your chosen brand. Get to know everyone you will be interacting with, representing, and turning to for support. Speak with current and previous franchisees to get a real sense of what becoming a part of the brand community will be like. They will be able to answer your questions and offer insights through their shared experiences.


Taking the time to pick the right spot to open your doors is fundamental to your success. You want to ensure that you’re in a location that attracts enough traffic to support your burgeoning business while being an affordable and right-sized space for you to operate.

Most franchisors have expert market analysts at their disposal to help you select the perfect location for your target customer base. Tom & Chee works with real estate brokers and architects who are familiar with our site requirements and have in-house project managers to guide franchisees through the entire build-out process.

Chosen well, your location can bring brand exposure while opening the door to plenty of customers to help your business thrive.


If you decide to start a grilled cheese sandwich franchise, a lot of the legwork has already been done for you in this regard, and many others. It’s a good idea to incorporate your business or form an LLC to provide a layer of protection between your personal assets and those of the business. Should you ever encounter any problems, your personal assets will remain separate from your business structures.


City, county, and state requirements vary, but certain licenses are essential for you to operate your restaurant. Do your research and make sure you have everything you need. This will also help you streamline health and safety training and certifications required by law for your staff.


The FDA updates its Food Code every four years, but requirements, encouraged protocol, and other safety and operation instructions can change depending on the state, and even the county. Instead of immediately tackling the over 600 pages of information published by the FDA, looking into your state’s food service code regulation department is a great place to start. There you can start to get a sense of the actions you will need to take to make sure your restaurant is up to code.

It is also important to touch base with local health officials in your area to make sure you are operating by the book. These officials will also be the ones who can help you establish and maintain your food licenses and health permits, which are essential to running a restaurant. You will also need to look into the specific insurance requirements for your restaurant, which will depend on a variety of areas including size and location.


This is like a social security number for your restaurant, allowing the IRS to track your business for federal tax purposes. This ID number is essential if you plan on employing a staff of any kind, and especially if you intend on establishing your business as a corporation or partnership.


In addition to paying federal business taxes, most U.S. states require some form of income and employment taxes. Some states have additional fiscal requirements, including workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. Qualifications, requirements, and regulations vary widely from state to state, so be sure to look into the laws specific to where you plan on starting your restaurant.


One of the most important factors for a restaurant’s success is a dedicated, dependable team. From bussers to managers, you want to staff your restaurant with a selection of team members who share your vision and are committed to making your business a success.

Ensure that every new employee knows your restaurant’s mission and is on the same page with you and the rest of the team. A happy staff translates to happy customers, and finding the right team can make your restaurant reach its highest potential.

One of the many benefits of opening a restaurant franchise is the fact that the store training follows a proven, time-tested formula. Once you have chosen your team, brand standard training is a crucial element to setting everyone up for success.

Tom & Chee offers a combination of fun and comprehensive in-store and classroom training sessions to prepare every franchisee for the challenges of running their own business. Tom & Chee utilizes a “train the trainer” mentality, giving all owners the knowledge to successfully bring on new staff as they prepare to open their restaurants.

And training doesn’t end when your business opens. Tom & Chee is ready and excited to continue providing guidance and support as you navigate the in’s and out’s of running your business every step of the way.

The right training builds brand consistency, employee engagement and retention, and increased efficiency. The results translate to the customers having an enjoyable experience and wanting to come back!


The turn-key nature of a restaurant franchise is particularly helpful when it comes time to fill your fridges for Opening Day. Your inventory ordering process has been streamlined to suit your menu, and most franchisors engage a network of trusted vendors and proprietors who offer the best products at the best prices to get you what you need. Consistency is key. Customers who have come to know and love Tom & Chee will be expecting the same world-class food, service, and atmosphere at your new location, and your franchisor is ready to help you make that happen.


All of your hard work is about to come to fruition! Now is the time to engage with your community and promote your business through as many means as possible.

Traditional and in-store marketing techniques remain powerful, but there are new platforms to help promote and drive your business. Digital and online marketing strategies are constantly evolving and require new ideas and clever, customer-engaging campaigns. These digital marketing techniques aren’t solely attached to your business’s website but involve other avenues, such as:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Newsletters and Email Marketing
  • Social Media Outreach
  • Online Paid Ads

Some of these methods cost money, while others (like social media) simply require a little creativity and determination to make an impression on your current and prospective customer base.

Tom & Chee offers franchisees comprehensive marketing support to set you up for success from day one. Bolstered by a team of experts and top-of-the-line market analysis, Tom & Chee owners can rely on opening and ongoing assistance from a brand that is committed to stirring up excitement about our unique and delicious concept.


Tom & Chee is a unique and innovative concept in the vastly popular sandwich market. Serving elevated comfort food built around one of America’s most beloved foods — the grilled cheese — we thrive on providing our customers fresh, delicious food in a fun and friendly atmosphere. We treat our franchisees like family and look forward to growing with like-minded entrepreneurs.

If you would like to learn more about Tom & Chee franchising opportunities in your area, we look forward to hearing from you.