Don't start accumulating equipment until you get all the relevant information on what's allowable and what's required from the health department.
Develop a detailed kitchen plan (drawings etc) so you don't have to re-qualify it with the health department when you need to move a piece of equipment etc.
Make friends with your rep at the Health Department.
Understand every single thing the local Building Department is going to require of you before you do anything else. They have the ability to blow any particular location you are considering clear off the map by adding costs.
Use an overly detailed business plan to help yourself think through all the details - especially financial. The most significant thing a business plan does for you is that it provides you a "go ... no go" indicator before you start investing in the rest of the process.
Nothing is more expensive than making great progress in the wrong direction.
Understand Breakeven Analysis backwards and forwards. *Not* just what your breakeven number is, but how all the business variables contribute to profitability through your operations.
If your cash flow allows for it, start out with Sysco initially until you get the hang of inventory, purchasing and storage controls.
Have the EcoLab rep come in and allow him to pitch you up one side and down the other ... pick his (or her) brain for everything you're worth ... have your questions developed in advance. If cash flow allows it, EcoLab can make getting things off the ground easier ... but even if you can't afford them, at least act like you are considering their services so as to get their input and expertise on the most efficient way to get things set up.
<message edited by Sonny Funzio on Wed, 05/1/13 8:50 AM>