What to consider when opening a cafe


Starting a café, where to begin?

We know the aesthetics are far more exciting, but put down the sketchpad for a moment. Here are some things to consider that will save your business dollars, and ensure your restaurant or café is as profitable as can be.

It all starts with the menu. If your back of house is designed right, you’ll have the right equipment that fits your business, and you could end up saving big dollars on labor costs.

Here’s some tips on where to focus first.

What’s on your menu?

Before you go any further, what items are on your menu? Importantly, what will be prepared on site, and what will you use another supplier for? Plan ahead! If you are planning on baking your own cakes, you’ll need to consider the future placement of an oven. From ventilation through to heat output, you will need to factor the needs of your commercial equipment in the kitchen.

But don’t fret about having all the answers! The most successful businesses stay on top of trends and customer needs. We encourage you to listen to your customers and seize new opportunities for your menu and offering. Instead of purchasing equipment you can easily rent what you need, enabling your business to change your kitchen set up as your business grows and changes too.

Efficient employee work stations

So you have locked down your menu and sourced the right kitchen equipment, but where should it be placed? It may initially seem trivial but steps, like loonies, add up. If your employee needs to walk 4 steps to get the ice for a smoothie, or 5 steps to get the milk out of the fridge, your set up is not optional. Efficient employee work stations can make a significant different to your labor costs.

Here’s an example how:

Scenario 1 –

The coffee and blended drink work station set up is not ideal or efficient.

The employee has to head to back-of-house to get ice, and once scooped into the blender, the milk fridge is 4 steps away in the other direction. In the morning rush, these extra seconds add up… fast. The solution? A part-time employee is brought on to assist for 4 hours each day predominantly to make smoothies and blended drinks.

Scenario 2 –

In an alternative scenario the workstation has been set up efficiently. An existing employee can reach all that she needs including ice and milk while still manning the coffee machine. The result? Improved workflow and no need for an additional employee.

Let’s do the math –

additional part-time employee 4 x hours a day, 6 days a week = 30 hours

30 hours @ $15 an hour = $450

Without the need for an additional part-time employee the business saves $23,000 a year.

Seek advice!

While it may not always look it, even the smallest café or coffee shop is a complex operation behind the register. How your kitchen equipment is structured for workflow and efficiency matters.

Ensure you use a professional for your restaurant layout. Remember professionals like equipment dealers have done hundreds of concepts and while each is unique, the same principles apply to efficient layout.

We recently heard of a customer who had bought a display case online, only to find it wouldn’t fit through the door!

If you’re thinking of starting a café or restaurant, seek advice early. Professionals know the right questions to ask and your business will reap rewards of an efficient operation.