Advice on opening a restaurant
The first challenge in opening a restaurant is recognizing what you don't know and having the humility to ask for help from others. Build a team of advisors who are strong where you aren't. Realize that "great food and service" are only the minimum requirements for having a successful restaurant. They won't make you successful on their own.
If I can suggest a resource, I strongly advise you to join RestaurantOwner.com. Its a subscription website that has hundreds of downloadable tools to help you organize. Its got a great forum like this one full of owners ready to lend their experience.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to start with a book or two on opening a restaurant. I can't say there is any single "best" one I've read, but every one of them have been helpful and worth the read.
Aside from the obvious "food and service", the most important skills for an owner to have are marketing and accounting. Too many new owners think they can open a place without a serious marketing budget, counting on their awesome food to bring people in, but not recognizing that without the proper marketing, they are just another restaurant saying they have awesome food and service.
It's about as tough an undertaking as a fellow (or gal) can get into. Lots of written advice out there, and like was mentioned, Restaurantowner.com is a must.
One really big pitfall, one that has done in a lot of entrepreneurs, is going into the project with unrealistic expectations. Another is being under capitalized.
Best of luck!
Owning a food establishment is an extremely difficult way to earn money. There are many much easier ways. You will hear everyone mention how hard it is.....and they are correct.
At the end of the day live a life of no regrets. You will not have a second chance to live your dream. Will you fail? Maybe. But, if you do fail be sure to fail spectacularly.