How to start a cafe business

Updated April 17, 2017

If you have experience in the restaurant industry and would like to branch out and start your own business, you should consider opening a cafe. Starting with a small cafe is a great way to learn the ins and outs of owning an eatery without the high level of stress that comes with owning a full-blown restaurant. Many times cafes can be put in older, more quaint locations, and this often adds to the feel and ambience of popular cafes. Below are some tips on how to start a cafe business...

Choose your location in an area that gets plenty of foot traffic. Look for quaint, inexpensive vacancies that are near popular hot spots. If you are in an industrial or corporate area of town, make sure your cafe is easily accessible by local workers who are on lunch breaks.

Make sure the location that you choose is commercially zoned and there are no restrictions on opening an eatery in the area. Call the county or city clerk's office and ask about business permits and any special licensing needed to serve food at your location. If you plan on serving alcohol, be ready for a long approval process when it comes to getting a liquor license. In many states, there is a lot of red tape involved in obtaining a liquor license.

Have a contractor install ovens, stoves and any cooking areas by following state health regulation codes. A health inspector will have to inspect your location before you open for business, and you don't want to run into any snags after you have already installed commercial appliances.

Give your cafe a special flair that separates it from the typical franchise restaurants. Artwork, colours and design can really make your cafe a cosy spot that will attract regular customers. You can find unique artwork and paintings at garage sales and antique shops.

Start with a simple menu with only a few options. It is best to master five to 10 strong dishes rather than trying to serve everything under the sun. Starting with only a few dishes allows you to keep limited ingredients on hand and have minimal items taking up stockroom.

Make an outdoor patio area with tables and chairs if your location allows it. When most people picture a cafe, they imagine sitting outdoors and enjoying their meal under umbrella tents. Most successful cafes offer outdoor eating, and nothing will advertise your cafe better than satisfied customers enjoying their meals right in front of your entrance.

Remember that it takes time to build up repeat customers and fill your cafe on a daily basis. If you serve quality food in a unique environment and in prompt fashion, your cafe will likely succeed.

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About the Author

Michael-John Wolfe is an actor and writer from Los Angeles. He has worked on eight national commercials and has had supporting roles opposite Brad Pitt in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Tom Cruise in Collateral. He is an accomplished writer with over 400 articles sold online.