We need small business opinions and stories/ Grab-n-go marketplace cafe- YES or NO?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by sherman452, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. sherman452


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    Professional Chef
    My husband and I need lots of opinions.  We need some opinions from fellow professional chefs like us who have lots of experience in the food service business (any and all types of experience).  We want to weigh our options on opening a small marketplace style café with emphasis on grab-n-go foods.

    We would love input from any of you that have had a business like this, successful or not.

    Our background-

    -CIA grads- 20 years ago
    - 40 years of experience combined

    - strong kitchen manager, catering, cooking, team management skills,

    The café site-

    - excellent location- Soccer-mom demographic with five schools within a 3 mile radius of the location

    - No rent to be paid/ just utilities for the first year

    - site has the bare bones but is lacking basic equipment like stove, etc.  We have lots of small wares, but would need to outfit everything else.
    - café can hold around 38 people

    We're ready to hear all sides!  This has been a dream of our for a while but we have also been in the business for so long that we are VERY aware of the work, the sacrifice and the rate of failure.

    Thank you for your professional inputs!
  2. recky


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    I like it when people are passionate about starting a new business. Are you in it for the money or are you passionate about food? It's really only the latter that has a chance of succeeding in a place like that.

    You haven't mentioned the competition in the area - lots of restaurants will draw hungry people in, yet if you're in competition with similar offerings, things may get difficult. Generally speaking and from my experience, neighbourhood restaurants can be successful only if they "give people what they want", but must offer above-average quality of food and service.

    Keep it simple, fresh, local, light. Don't try to be too fancy, and on the other extreme, don't make your food look like dogs' dinners.

    38 covers is good and feasible for an owner-operated place. Do you have any outside seating? I'd consider that essential for a neighbourhood café/eatery.

    An all-too-frequent trap, as is often stressed by experienced chefs on this forum, is a mismatch of menu and what the kitchen is capable of, both equipment and staff-wise.


  3. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Retired Chef
    So grab and go without the benefit of 20,000 people in office buildings nearby?  I'd say it's possible, but you would need to be in a cluster of thriving businesses.