Been thinking about starting something myself for a few years now, just haven’t had the balls to do it yet. I have however done quite an amount of research on the matter. I will be referring to how the rules are in Denmark, but since you’re also in the EU, I’m quite sure there are same or similar ways of doing what I mention, in Bulgaria.
First thing I’d consider, is what kind of business model. There are overall two different ways of doing it. Personally owned or corporate. With the personally owned, you’re liable with what you have and own. So if something goes south, a someone can take your house, car or anything else of value you might own. The corporate model mostly frees you from this kind of liability. In most EU countries, it’s possible to start a corporation for close to nothing, In Britain £1, in Denmark 1 Dkr. In Britain the company model is called LLC (Limited Liability Company), in Denmark it’s called IVS (Iværksætter selskab), I know there is similar options in Germany too. Another good thing with this type of business model, is that you’d be employees in your own company, with a formulated contract and everything. This should help having clean lines and a mutual agreement between you and your cousin, which should help prevent some problems.
Also, if you chose to make the corporate model, it would be a good idea to, at the same time, found a holding company each, which together owns the restaurant. So, both of you own a holding LLC, which then owns the restaurant. This way, any money/value you might have leftover from your restaurant, you can move to holding with a tax benefit. Anything you might have in your holding company, can then be protected in case the restaurant goes bust.
If it is founded via a corporate model, there are also certain documents that has to be in place. Called something like owners agreement, this document define what is expected of the involved parties and anything else that might relevant. Things like division of assets if partnership dissolves, veto rights when decisions are being made, and just about anything you can come up with. A lawyer would be a good thing to take in on this. Here and in Britain there are lawyers specializing in these kind of contracts at relatively low rates with everything included in relation to the government and the like.
Take some local courses about starting up, most places I’ve checked, have these, government funded. It might appear to be useless, there is however always something one didn’t know, if nothing else, you’d get some contacts that might be able to point you in a direction.
Make a business plan, personally that part made me cringe, but it is actually worth it, and if you need to have a credit with suppliers or with a bank, it’s either required to present one, or it’s good to have something in written form which you can always refer to in case of a conflict between you and your partner. Business plans are also something that can be acquired as a template on followed. Again, if in doubt, check your local government for free support.
I noticed that several have mentioned Food Trucks, there could be benefits doing this, could be that there are lighter hygiene standards when it comes to running it out of a truck, compared to having a static installation in a restaurant itself.
Rather ask local government once too many for assistance, if nothing else, it would be documented that you’re willing to do this the right way, which should also ease some of the bureaucracy, because you’ll get to know some of the people involved in this. At least, here it’s a clear benefit for business owners to be on “first name” basis with those that handle the paper work.
I think it’s a great idea, nothing beats having your feet under your own table, where you reap the fruits from your hard labor and not someone else.
Hope it works out for you.