Opinions Wanted

Joined May 17, 2018
So I was approached today about taking over a corporate cafeteria in a local chicken processing plant. No rent, No Utilities, serving Breakfast and Lunch.

500 employees.

Currently I do not own a restaurant or do catering, I was thinking about using this as a platform to be able to start a business and have a somewhat stable area to be able to do it in.

Looking for opinions on
Is this a good way to get started?
what kind of margins should I be expecting / trying to achieve?
I will be getting more information early next week about what they are looking to be provided.

Joined Mar 1, 2017
Hi VAChefJay and welcome to CT! :)

I guess the only question that matters is what sort of experience do you have in high volume food service?
Joined Sep 26, 2017
I don't know where you live, but usually the profit margin of a cafeteria is low; low to the point of being not-for-profit at some places.

Another thing is that you cannot really scale up your business or expand to other locations.

But if you are not looking to get rich, and just want a business with a stable income to support your family, this would be a good choice.
Joined Oct 1, 2006
Hi Chef and welcome!

Given the few details here are a few thoughts.

After cooking for 25+ years what do you mean "good way to get started"?
Have you seen the facilities yet? First look could tell you a lot about your future! Dirty with broken equipment is a big red flag...
Breakfast and lunch is a pretty good gig! Having nights off is nice.
Weekends off or 365 day operations?
Will you get free chicken?
The margins will depend on what system they expect you to operate under. Like allowing you a per day, per employee budget or giving you a flat fee or are the employees paying for their meals with partial compensation from employer? All you can eat buffet? Lots of different systems to feed 500 people. (When I worked for Marriott, the employee cafeteria was free to employees.)

If there a spot nearby where you could open a place for the employees to grab something on their way home it could be an ideal stepping stone for your own place. If the plant is located in a rural area might be a great opportunity to fill a void.

I would be interested in hearing their proposal.
The devil is in the details... As in "You want me to do what? For how much?!?!?"
You will probably need to crunch some numbers before accepting, countering, or declining.
Joined May 5, 2010
"Currently I do not own a restaurant or do catering, I was thinking about using this as a platform to be able to start a business and have a somewhat stable area to be able to do it in. "

Now I take this to mean that the OP wants to do some kind of work on the side using the kitchen facility that the OP works in during the day, to cater or other, in its' off hours. If that be the case you'd need permission from the owners....yes?
Joined Aug 26, 2016
Not a ton of details given, but is it correct to assume this would be "your business" to run? Obviously you said no rent or utilities...again assuming you foot the payables for day-to-day operations (food, employees, paper, etc.)? Are you limited on price & menus? What are the "catches"? How many of the 500 employees eat breakfast and lunch on site daily...all 500...50 for breakfast...150 for lunch...more/less?

One idea for more sales. Make a daily "to-go" menu for supper. Have it posted during breakfast & lunch. Take pre-orders for the day's menu. Once lunch is over you can send your employees home, and you can get busy prepping your pre-orders for the evening. When 5o'clock rolls around the plant employees can swing by & take home supper for the family. Pre-orders are pre-paid...when they order in the morning thru lunch, you take their names AND their money.
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