How to start a restaurant business with little money (10 steps)

If every time you prepare a dish the diners melt in praise of you, or your friends ask you to be the chef every time you stay to eat at home, a restaurant business may be the ideal endeavor for you.

Surely the idea of opening your own restaurant business has ever crossed your mind. The problem is that as is the economic situation today, this type of company can be costly.

Rent a room with enough space, kitchen equipment, and furniture to receive customers, hire employees to help you … All this involves a series of expenses that perhaps you can not assume at this time.

So here I am going to tell you in 10 steps how to start your own restaurant business if you do not have the capital to invest, and through what means you can start this venture to sell your culinary delights.

How to start a restaurant business with little money

1. Investigate the regulations and licenses you will need

restaurant business

A restaurant business needs to be legally registered like the rest of the businesses. But in addition, it must have a series of licenses and special permits because the health of the people is at stake.

That is why your obligation is to first think through what medium you are going to sell the dishes (an online store, a food truck, a catering service) and then investigate what permits you need for the sale.

Normally to distribute special products such as alcoholic beverages or seafood you will need to have a special license that you must request.

Go to the town hall of your city and ask them to advise you there on the necessary paperwork, what documents are required, how long the process takes …

Each country, and even each department, province or autonomous community, is governed by different rules that you must know.

You may also check this article: 5 Things you should do before opening your virtual store

2. Register your business as a legal company

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing that to start a business from home or virtually does not need to register it legally.

But performing this simple procedure can save you a lot of headaches in the future.

To start this project you will have to register as a freelancer and register your business in the necessary registries so that it complies with the established law.

Again, in your town hall or official body can guide you well on what documents and procedures you will have to follow to get it.

3. Create a name and logo for your business

restaurant business

The name and logo are what will give identity to your restaurant business, and so your customers will know you and get to remember you better.

Think of them as if they were your name and your surnames: they will appear on your bills, on the stickers of the boxes where you put the food, on the brochures, business cards or posters you make.

They are really important elements to build your brand image and reach your customers.

Read the following article to learn how to create a name: How to choose the perfect name for your company.

And this other post where you will discover how to create a logo for your business: How to design a successful logo for your business.

4. Decide the type of food you will sell and the means to do it

There are many types of food you can sell, from fast food, desserts, homemade dishes, or even personalized cakes.

It is advisable that you specialize in a specific type of food to stand out in this industry and attract more buyers, and that you cook something you are an expert in or willing to learn to do well.

You can focus on making fun cupcakes, or delicious sushi dishes, or make irresistible homemade meals or vegetarian dishes.

In the specialty that you sell will be the key to your success because today that is what triumphs: companies that are experts in giving customers a specific service or product.

Also, think through what medium you will offer your dishes: will you create a web page to serve your meals at home, or would you prefer to start a catering service? Maybe a truck or street vendor on the street?

The decision will depend on how you want to manage your restaurant business, from where, and also the budget you have to start it.

5. Is there a real market for your business?

restaurant business

You can make the most delicious birthday cakes in the world or better pizzas than those sold in Italy. But if there is no real market interested in those meals, you will not generate much income.

For this reason before investing your time and your money in your restaurant business you must do a small market study to check the viability of your project.

If you are going to sell nationally, go to forums and blogs where they talk about food or places that like to go out to people to see what they are interested in or what they would like to try.

Look if there are already restaurants that offer the same menu that you want to provide; Talk to your friends, family, and contacts to find out their opinion.

You can even consult business or lifestyle magazines to know the latest trends in cuisine that are triumphing or statistics in which you check what kind of foods consumers like most.

6. Seek quality suppliers for raw materials

Once you know what food you are going to sell, in what medium you are going to do it, and you are sure that there is a market for that specialty, it is time to take action looking for suppliers to buy your ingredients.

Make a test menu in which you list the dishes that you will offer in a day, see what ingredients you will need for all of them, and calculate the approximate amounts to record them.

With this information, look for food wholesalers or large traders and compare prices and quality of raw materials to see where you can make a better purchase.

If you are going to use non-perishable foods, such as rice or honey, do not hesitate to buy these ingredients in large quantities because this way you will have access to wholesale discounts.

See also if the supermarkets in your city have customer cards where you can register to enjoy special offers and promotions to buy your ingredients at a lower price.

And, although this will depend a bit on your budget, do not forget the kitchen team. If your pans, pots or your oven are already outdated and do not work as they should, buy new material.

Or if you need a special device to create your dishes (like a rod blender, for example), buy it to be able to cook professionally.

7. Find suppliers to pack your meals

restaurant business

If you are going to offer service at home, or have decided to set up a food truck, it is essential that your restaurant business also has packaging such as containers, boxes, or even glasses and cutlery so that your customers can take your prepared dishes and eat them quietly. Having a reliable generator to power your food truck too is very important.

A well-wrapped saucer is very important so that the food stays warm, does not spill, or does not come in contact with dirt or other agents that can make it inedible.

So you should look for wholesale suppliers to buy this type of packaging and put your culinary creations in them.

Make sure they are resistant, of good quality, and if they are respectful to the environment and have a nice design, much better to give a more professional look.

Do not forget to create stickers with the logo and the name of your company so they do not forget about you, and in which you include data such as:

  • ·         The name of the dish
  • ·         Your expiration date
  • ·         Possible allergenic ingredients (seafood, nuts, lactose or cheese, gluten)

These 3 data can be written by hand with a permanent marker so they are not erased, or printed on the stickers with your computer.

Remember that both the food, the containers, and the place where you prepare your recipes must be totally clean and sterilized so as not to have hygiene problems.

8. Set a price for your dishes

Apart from how delicious your dishes are, the price you put on them can make the difference between triumphing with your restaurant business … or be failing in the attempt.

To establish them correctly, the first thing to calculate is the costs for each elaboration. From there, a good idea is that you take a look at the prices of your competitors who sell similar or similar foods to yours.

9. Think about how you will send your cooked dishes

restaurant business

If you want to ride a food truck you can skip this step. But if your sales will be through a web page, a catering service, or selling your dishes to a restaurant or local, you must think about how you will send them.

The companies that are already dedicated to this and cook pastries such as desserts, cakes or chocolates usually choose to send their preparations through a courier company with urgent service.

If you want to do the same, make sure that the company treats the packages well and that the transport trucks are well refrigerated so that your dishes arrive in good condition.

However, if you are going to offer other types of food (pizzas, soups, main courses), it is best to do it (or hire someone with a car or motorbike) to take them at the same time you finish cooking them.

This also counts if you are going to start a catering service or sell your dishes to a restaurant or local.

Here what you will need is a sufficiently large vehicle to put the necessary meals and that is sure not to spill, with a good temperature.

Or you can rent a well-equipped van to use it in the moments when you have to transport your dishes to the customer’s place.

10. Your business is not going to promote itself …

restaurant business

One of the biggest mistakes I see every day is to open a business, tell a few friends, and wait for sales as if by magic.

It is good that you tell all your acquaintances about your venture. And even that you give them business cards or brochures to be distributed among their contacts.

But only this is not enough. And in fact, promoting yourself effectively in a wider network will not cost you anything.

Open a profile on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your restaurant business where you upload news, photos. And special offers to reach a larger number of consumers.

Go out to the street, put a small table, and offer people to pass a glass with a bit of your food as shown next to a small booklet where you indicate where they can buy you.

I put advertising in the mailboxes of the houses. Create a web page that serves as a virtual store. And a place for your potential customers to contact you and place your orders.

Go to fairs and events in the world of gastronomy to let you know, establish contacts, and increase your popularity.

The important thing here is that you move. And put into practice all the possible strategies to make your new venture known.

Do not stand to wait for sales, look for them!


The writer of this article, currently manages his own blog moment for life and spread happiness and is managing to do well by mixing online marketing and traditional marketing practices into one.

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