If you’ve dreamt of running your own café for some time now, what’s holding you back from realising your dream? Countries such as Portugal and Spain have two or three cafés in every street corner. You’d expect two cafés in the same street to be in direct competition but in fact, the more the better, they say. The theory is: if a street has 4 or 5 cafés, or more, people will want to go there. The street gets a reputation and all cafés will be packed with customers. If you open a café in a street with no competition at all, customers will be looking elsewhere. Moral of the story is: don’t be afraid of competition.
People love going to a local café. Franchises are great and obviously popular because there’s no risk in buying a cappuccino (they all come out in the same way), whereas if you try a coffee at a family run business, you’re running the risk of getting a bad coffee. It’s good to play safe but it’s great to take the risk and try something new, as well as supporting a local business.
So, you’re thinking of running your own café. First thing’s first:
What kind of catering equipment does your café need and at what cost? You can either buy your equipment brand new or second hand, or you can hire it. Suppose your café has a kitchen and front house, for your front house you’ll need a glass fronted refrigerator, a coffee machine, a water boiler, a cash register and maybe an undercounter dishwasher and an undercounter refrigerator. For your kitchen you’ll need a toaster, a dishwasher, an ice-cream freezer, an upright refrigerator, maybe also a griddle and a hob cooker and even a panini grill. You may not need any of these if you’re planning to have a small café but if you’re starting a business, why think little? Why not make plans for something bigger and better?
Tables and chairs. Think of how you’d like to receive your guests, how you’d like to show hospitality. Tables for 2 or 4 people. Tables that can be easily put together and cater for a party of 8. Have a look at what’s available and picture your own café complete with furniture and décor. Pictures on the wall or something a bit quirky like shelves with mugs and jugs of different countries – all hand painted. Don’t be afraid to paint a picture in your head, you can always erase it at any time and repaint. Don’t forget high baby chairs. You will be getting a lot of visitors with babies and toddlers.
What type of food and drink would you like to serve? If you’re planning to serve alcohol, remember you need a licence. But let’s worry about that later. Decide what you’d like to serve which could be any of the following or all and more than the list we’ve prepared for you:
Chocolates (locally sourced)
Champagne/Prosecco/Cava and any other bubbly
Tea (English breakfast)
Chinese teas (jasmin, Tik Goon Yam, green, oolong)
The possibilities are endless. You can start with a limited supply of food and drink and just grow as your business takes off. Ask your customers to leave a note with suggestions – that will be worth more than a tip. If you are planning to serve alcohol, you will need a licence and your commercial solicitor can help you with that. Commercial solicitors and commercial lawyers help you understand your rights and responsibilities when running a business such as a café. For instance, you’ll need staff and along with staff you need employment contracts, health and safety certificates, lease agreements, business licences, local authority licences, etc. Are you thinking of opening your own café? Please give us a call and we can help you get started. SG
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