The Ultimate Checklist for Opening a Cafe

The Ultimate Checklist for Opening a Cafe

Opening your own cafe is an extremely exciting venture. It may be something you have dreamed of doing since you were young or an idea that has presented itself to you only recently. Either way, opening your very own cafe is incredibly exciting - but it takes a lot of work, too.

Whether you’re hoping to make it as the next Starbucks or you simply want to create a chilled space where your locals can grab a coffee and piece of cake, the cafe opening checklist remains the same. Opening a cafe is a huge investment in terms of both time and money and therefore it’s important to get it right. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Below, we’ve put together the ultimate checklist for opening a cafe. There are plenty of things you need to take into consideration and organise before opening day, from business and marketing plans to location and menus. For your convenience we’ve put it all into one big guide for you - read on for more!

Create a business plan

Firstly, you’re going to need a hefty and detailed business plan under your belt. It’s tempting to skip this part and get straight into designing menus and viewing potential spots, but it’s important to spend some time on your business plan. Writing a business plan helps you to really understand your local market and work out how you’re going to make your business successful.

A business plan will help you determine what you’re going to do, what needs prioritising, who your competitors are and how you’re going to communicate your brand. It will also include financial projections, a lease strategy and how much cash you need to get started.

Define your vision

This is one of the most exciting parts of opening a cafe. You likely already have plenty of ideas, visions and creations swirling around your mind, but bringing them all to life is harder than it seems. Before you get started, take the time to truly define your vision. Mood boards are great for this; collect pictures of cafes you like, menus, colour schemes, decor ideas, recipes - anything that gives you inspiration.

Think about how you want your customers to feel when they enter your cafe - what kind of food you’ll serve, the ambiance you want to create, where your customers will sit and more. Make sure you have a clear vision beforehand.

Select a location

Next up: location. The location of your cafe will play a huge factor in its success. Choosing the location of your cafe is not a decision that should be made lightly - instead, it’s worth doing lots of research. Spend some time in each location you’re considering and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the location visible enough? Is it tucked down an alley where no one will see it or on the side of a bustling highstreet, and is there enough foot traffic around?
  • Are there other cafes in the area? What is the competition like?
  • What’s the demographic of the location? Who are you hoping to attract?
  • How will the wider area affect custom? Are you based in a popular city or the quiet countryside?
  • What is the actual building like? Is it big enough? Does it look inviting and can you imagine your cafe taking off inside?

Remember, higher foot traffic equals higher turnover. However, higher foot traffic areas will also be more expensive, so keep this in mind when settling on a location.

Contact the top suppliers

You’re going to need a lot of supplies for your cafe and therefore it’s important to have reliable and reputable suppliers on hand. In fact, finding good suppliers can make or break your business. You’ll need fresh food supplies, such as milk, bread, coffee and other fresh food and groceries.

You’ll also need cups (both porcelain and paper for takeaway), coffee stirrers, teapots, syrups and more. Don’t forget about linen hire, too - you will need to find a reliable cafe or restaurant linen hire company for tablecloths, napkins, serviettes and kitchen uniform.

The best thing to do is make a big list of absolutely everything you’re going to need and do your research from there. Ask around for recommendations of suppliers, use the internet and make sure you read reviews to guarantee the suppliers you choose are reliable.

Purchase equipment

You’re not going to get very far without the right equipment. As well as all of the basics, such as a refrigerator, dishwasher, cash register and commercial blender, you’ll need to invest in a lot of other equipment too, including:

  • Espresso machines
  • Drip coffee makers
  • Ovens/toasters/microwaves/any other cooking devices
  • Industrial coffee grinders
  • Industrial blenders

You’ll also need to invest in a security system and storage solutions too. Buying all of this equipment can be very expensive, so it may be worth looking into purchasing second hand items to save some money. Alternatively, you can hire equipment from various companies which can be far cheaper than buying outright.

Bring your vision to life

Now it’s time to dig those mood boards out and bring your visions to life! Decide on your theme and get decorating. Remember to think about what you want customers to feel when they enter your cafe and apply this to all aspects of decorating. From your shop front design to signage, furniture and lighting, everything needs to match and reflect your brand to truly pull the aesthetics together. Don’t forget to design your menus in line with your brand and design too.

Design your menus

You may want to offer just more than tea and coffee. Many cafes offer light meal options (and some heavier) so you’ll need to decide exactly what you want to offer your customers. Popular light meal options include sandwiches, salads, soups and sweet baked goods. Remember, the bigger your menu is, the more help you’ll need in the kitchen and the more kitchen space you’ll need.

When running a cafe, it’s generally better to keep your menu simple and straightforward. Try not to overcomplicate things with difficult recipes and always stay open to feedback. Your menu should evoke and reflect your brand and culture, so make sure all dishes are in line with this too.

Hire the right people

The finishing touch to your cafe is your employees. You’ll want to find people who are positive and have a can-do attitude. These people will be representing your brand, so make sure you choose the right ones! A bad attitude can have a negative effect on a customer’s experience, so look out for people who are passionate about customer service and - of course - coffee! There are plenty of ways you can find employees, from local job boards to the internet.

Johnsons Stalbridge Linen Service

If you’re looking for reliable linen hire services for your restaurant or catering business, you needn’t look further than Johnsons Stalbridge Linen Service. We deliver all services promptly and are proud of our exceptional quality of service, reliability and flexible method of working. We understand how much hard work goes into running your business, which is why we do everything we can to make sure our service is as trouble-free as possible.

With over 40 years of experience providing linen for hire and industrial laundry services for caterers, restaurants and hotels, you can rely on us for your linen hire requirements. We’re on hand to communicate with our clients at any time and deal with all queries as quickly as possible.

We offer a product range of both traditional and contemporary styles and service methods to suit all types of customers

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