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Opening a Cafe in 10 Steps

 

Starting a cafe isn’t just like starting a regular business. Not only does it have the usual challenges of a standard business, but has unique pressures that come with working in the hospitality industry. Other challenges include:

  • The hours: weekends, nights and early mornings
  • The responsible handling of food
  • The responsible handling of alcohol
  • Often managing a casual workforce
  • Managing the shelf life of food
  • Managing culinary trends and change

Do Your Research

Running a cafe may appear from the outside as simple enough, but the truth is far from the image - that of a young hipster flirting with customers as he makes soy lattes for a few hours a week - that is so often portrayed in popular culture. 
Before making any commitments or plans, do your research. This should include:

  • Reading accounts from others about what it’s like to start and run a cafe
  • Reading stories of both success and failure, and making a list of common pitfalls and mistakes
  • Looking into different cafe structures and styles
  • Getting an estimate of how long it takes to open a cafe
  • Getting an estimate of how much it costs to open a cafe
  • The general steps required from the beginning of the process to the day of opening

Identify Your Why

Embarking on a project of such magnitude is many things. It’s bold, brave, scary, and requires personal and financial sacrifice and risk. It’s essential, therefore, to be clear on your motivation from the outset, and determine whether this project with worth pursuing. Asking yourself:

Why do I want to start a cafe, specifically?
What is it about the hospitality that I’m drawn to, and do I fully understand how it works?
Am I willing to risk financial security to achieve this goal? 
Am I comfortable putting other parts of my life on hold to achieve this goal?
What’s my end goal? What am I hoping to achieve from this venture?

If you’ve asked yourself these questions, along with many others, and you still feel the drive to move forward, then you’re ready to get going! 

 

The number of establishments in the Australian cafe/coffee shop industry, 2005 - 2020.
Cafe and coffee shop industry in Australia

Register an ABN, domain name and choose a business structure

It's essential you know what comes with owning a business; not just the logistical and operational elements, but also the legal side. Business.gov.au has some excellent resources and is a great place to start. Another helpful way to learn is to listen to some business-related podcasts. There are some great success stories, but more importantly, some failures and lessons from which you can learn.

Scout a location

Choosing a location for your cafe will obviously depend on the availability and cost of each space, but you should also consider the type of crowd you want to attract. Are you a cafe that prides itself on its organic coffee and gluten free snacks? Do you plan on bringing back more traditional and cheap lunches? Are you focusing entirely on cereal? Think carefully before making any decisions, and talk to a real estate agent about other key considerations.  

Design a floor plan

Start with this handy video, and check out some templates here.

Consider funding options

There are many ways to fund a new business, including through investors, partners, assistance programs, grants, loans, your own money and more. Talk to a professional and read more at business.gov.au about funding options that might be right for you. 

Develop a menu

Developing a menu sounds like fun, until you start to think about all that’s involved. You need to properly understand the handling of food and alcohol, source suppliers, decide on a theme, determine the type of food you want to sell and so much more. The most important tip? Give yourself ample time, be flexible, and get ready to test a lot of good (and bad) food. 

Buy furniture/supplies

As with all other key decisions, your supplies will entirely depend on the kind of operation you run, though will probably include things like a coffee machine, tables, chairs and several fridges. We have an extensive and high-quality range of cafe furniture designed for Australian establishments. Check out a few of our favourites below: 

Cafe Chairs

Lana Breakout Chair - 4 Leg Wooden $91
  • 3 years warranty
  • Available in black and grey shell
  • Wooden base
  • 120kg maximum weight load
  • Affordable and comfortable option
 McDuck 4 Leg Chair - Natural Wood Leg $385
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in black, grey and brown
  • PU leather
  • Natural wooden leg
  • High-quality chair for ultimate comfort
Rialto Timber Chair $219
  • 1 years warranty
  • Available in light oak, walnut,olive grey and black
  • Includes foot glides 
  • Classic design with versatile appearance
Lola Outdoor Chair $128
  • 2 years warranty
  • Available in black, white, green or orange
  • Aluminium frame with PP seat and back
  • Non slip rubber feet
  • Perfect for outdoor settings and casual indoor spaces
Ginevra Outdoor Chair $125
  • 2 years warranty
  • Available in black, white, blue, green and red
  • Non slip rubber feet
  • UV stabilised
  • Stackable: 3 high
  • Ideal for smaller spaces
  • Affordable option
Costa Outdoor Chair $109
  • 2 years warranty
  • Available in black. white, blue, taupe and red
  • Ideal for outdoor use
  • Made in Italy
  • Unique colour and quirky design
Eames Replica 4 Leg Wooden Side Chair $109
  • 1 year warranty
  • Available in white, navy green, beige, grey and black
  • Inject moulded Polypropylene seat
  • Slick yet casual design
  • Casual meets sophisticated 
Pedigree Visitor Chair $135
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in blue, white, grey or black
  • Metal frame 
  • 120kg maximum weight load
  • Crisp and clean design for any cafe space
Clay Natural Beech Wood Cafe and Breakout Chair $220
  • 3 years warranty
  • Beech wood seat material
  • 150kg weight load
  • Modern design
  • Beautiful, classic and elegant design
Cathy Stool $101
  • 2 years warranty
  • Available in black or white
  • Polypropylene seat material
  • Natural wood colour frame 
  • Simple, space-saving piece 
Wave Plastic Chair Mobile Base - White $216
  • 3 years warranty
  • Available in white or black
  • Plastic seat finish
  • Mobile: 4 wheels 
  • 120 Day Chair Trial included
  • Easy to store and move
Cafe Restaurant Chair - Red $49
  • 5 years warranty
  • Best Price Guaranteed
  • Stackable
  • Added UV treatments to ensure colour integrity 
  • Bold colour with comfortable seat
Wave Fabric Chair - Dart Base Black $160
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in blue, grey and burgundy upholstered material
  • 120 Day Chair Trial 
  • Polyurethane leg finish
  • Elegant and classic fabric piece at an affordable price

 

Cafe Tables

Cross Table Base Cast Iron - White $144
  • 2 years warranty
  • Available in three sizes
  • Available in three colours including white, maple and wenge
  • Cast iron frame material 
Tivoli Cafe Table Round Base White/Copper - Copper Disc $171
  • 1 year warranty
  • Available in four sizes
  • Available in three colours including white, maple and wenge
  • Mild steel frame
  • Adjustable foot giles
  • Clean and contemporary design
Square Cafe Table Stainless Steel Base $439
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in three sizes
  • Available in four colours including white, maple, wenge and inox
  • 120 Day Chair Trial
  • Perfect for outdoor spaces
Vibe 50mm Panel Table $882
  • 10 years warranty
  • Available in four colours including white, maple, avignon and wenge
  • Straight abs edge
  • Laminate material
  • Ideal for shared spaces
Resetto - Square Meetings / Boardroom Table White Legs $480
  • 3 years warranty
  • Available in four colours including white, black, maple and wenge 
  • Natural oak wood finish
  • Straight edge table top
  • Clean and spacious design 
Resetto - Round Table White Legs $511
  • 3 years warranty
  • Best Price Guaranteed
  • Available in two sizes
  • Available in four colours including white, maple, wenge and black
  • Wood leg finish
Talent - Wooden Cafe Table Black Leg $110
  • 3 years warranty
  • Available in three colours including white and black
  • Sharknose indented angled edge
  • Modern design 
  • Low-cost, classic option
Wooden Dining / Boardroom Table Rectangle Wiring $473
  • 3 years warranty
  • North American ashtree frame and table top colour
  • Indented leg finish
  • Beautiful design with modern feel
Round Office Table Whistler Four Star Steel Base $176
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in four sizes
  • Available in three colours including white, maple and wenge
  • ABS edge
  • Polished aluminium leg finish
  • Stable table at a low cost
 

 

 Bar Tables

Sapphire Tall Bar Square Table Double Base - Black Frame $191
  • 1 year warranty
  • Available in three sizes
  • Available in three colours including maple, white and wenge
  • Adjustable foot glides included
  • Mild steel frame material 
Vibe 50mm Counter Panel Table $992
  • 10 year warranty
  • Available in four colours including white, maple, avignon and wenge
  • Straight abs edge
  • Laminate finish
  • Perfect for shared spaces and stools
Switch Collaborative Large Counter Table - Wood Imprint Frame $1,129
  • 10 years warranty
  • Available in three sizes
  • Available in three colours including white, maple and wenge
  • Aluminium leg material
  • Statement piece for shared meals and collaborations
Switch Counter High - White Frame $639
  • 10 years warranty
  • Best Price Guaranteed
  • Available in three sizes
  • Available in three colours including white, wenge or maple
  • Laminate desk finish
Counter Height Office Cafeteria / Bar Table Black Leg $440
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in four sizes
  • Available in three colours including white, maple or wenge
  • Power coated steel leg finish

 

Counter Stools

Lana Bar Stool - 4 Leg Wooden $116
  • 3 years warranty
  • Available in three colours including black, green and grey shell
  • Wooden base leg frame
  • 120kg weight load
  • Bold colour
Pedigree Fabric Counter Stool $217
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in three colours including emerald, rose and graphite
  • Metal frame
  • 120kg maximum weight load
  • Added back support
Rialto Timber Stool - Vinyl Black Seat $331
  • 1 year warranty
  • Available in four colours including light oak, walnut, olive grey and black
  • American oak frame material
  • Foot glides included
Phoenix Timber Stool - Black Vinyl Seat and Back $341
  • 1 year warranty
  • Available in four colours including light oak, walnut, olive grey and black
  • American oak frame material
  • Foot glides included
Bora Outdoor Stool 650mm $145
  • 2 years warranty
  • Available in two sizes
  • Available in three colours including black, taupe and white
  • Stackable: up to four chairs
Claudio Counter Stool $74
  • 5 years warranty
  • Affordable seating options
  • Available in three colours including black, white and grey
  • Stackable
Wave Fabric Bar Stool - Sled Base White $201
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in three colours including blue, grey and burgundy
  • Modern design
Bar Stool Black Stackable Florida $138
  • 1 year warranty
  • Best Price Guaranteed
  • Polyetheylene seat 
  • Footrest included
DSW Bar Stool Wooden Leg Eames Replica $115
  • 1 year warranty
  • Available in three colours including black, navy green and beige
  • High-quality replica
Plastic Bar Stool Flamingo $52
  • 3 years warranty
  • Best Price Guaranteed
  • Polyetheylene seat type
  • Footrest included

 


Booth Seating

Klass Low Sliding 4 Door Credenza $718
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in three door colours including maple, white and wenge
  • Available in two cushion colours including cosmo blue and slate grey
  • Lockable sliding doors
  • Laminate material
Klass Low Sliding 2 Door Credenza $289
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available with three door/top colours including maple, white and wenge
  • Lockable sliding doors
  • Laminate material
  • Two doors included
Klass Activity Module - Low Sliding Door Credenza with 1200H Backboard - Seat Cushion and Back Cushion $773
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in three door colours including maple, white and wenge
  • Available in two cushion colours including cosmo blue and slate grey
  • Laminate material
Klass Activity Module - Low Sliding Door Credenza $562
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in three door/top colours including maple, white and wenge 
  • Laminate material
  • Two doors
Klass Activity Module - Med Sliding 4 Door Credenza  $1,844
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in three door colours including maple, white and wenge
  • Available in two cushion colours including cosmo blue and slate grey
  • 8 doors
  • Laminate material
Klass Activity Module - Med Sliding 2 Door Credenza $738
  • 5 years warranty
  • Available in three door colours including maple, white and wenge
  • 1 adjustable shelf
  • Laminate material

 

Hire staff


As with any business, it’s essential to hire a capable workforce. You’ll need to make several other decisions about your staff including:

  • The type of employee you need: casual, part-time, full-time or a combination of all
  • How many employees you need 
  • What level of experience potential employees need
  • Your capacity to train new recruits
  • The qualities you look for in new recruits

Start marketing

Marketing your cafe shouldn’t be as simple as throwing up a sign outside and hoping people come inside. No matter your budget, your marketing efforts should include digital marketing as well as paid advertising, as well as other elements such as:

  • A customer referral incentive
  • Partnerships with other local businesses
  • An email database of customers
  • Social media presence
  • Discounts and opening offers 

Open your cafe! 

Building a business from the ground up is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you'll ever do. It will involve hard work, commitment, stress, flexibility, durability and a lot of risk. In return, however, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible learning opportunity. Your legacy, the business you built, will be one of your biggest achievements.

Go forth, start working and knock 'em dead! 

 

References

How to Open a Cafe: A Step-by-step Guide
Seven Miles
https://www.sevenmiles.com.au/editorial/how-to-open-a-cafe/

5 golden rules for opening a cafe
MYOB
https://www.myob.com/au/blog/5-golden-rules-for-opening-a-cafe/

The Complete Guide To...How to Open a Cafe
Nisbets
https://www.nisbets.com.au/how-to-open-cafe

So You Want To Start a Cafe?
Sydney Cafes
http://www.sydneycafes.com.au/want-start-cafe/

Opening a Cafe: Your Ultimate Checklist
Impos
https://impos.com.au/blog/opening-cafe-ultimate-checklist/

How to Start a Small Business Cafe
Chron
https://smallbusiness.chron.com/start-small-business-cafe-2220.html

10 Things to Know Before Opening a Cafe
European Coffee Trip
https://europeancoffeetrip.com/10-things-to-know-before-opening-a-cafe/

How to Run a Cafe: 11 Tips for Success
Alsco
https://www.alsco.com.au/2015/05/how-to-run-a-cafe-11-tips-for-success/

7 practical things to think about before you start a cafe business
Small Business First
https://smallbusinessfirst.com.au/7-practical-things-to-think-about-before-you-start-a-cafe-business/

How to start a cafe or coffee shop
Startups
https://startups.co.uk/how-to-start-a-cafe-or-coffee-shop/

Running a successful cafe doesn’t have to be difficult…
Make it Cheaper
https://www.makeitcheaper.com/resources/ultimate-guide-to-running-a-cafe

How To: Start a Cafe
SBS
https://www.sbs.com.au/news/small-business-secrets/article/2016/11/11/how-start-cafe

13 Tips to Open a Successful Coffee Shop
Bplans
https://articles.bplans.com/13-tips-open-successful-coffee-shop/

Grants and assistance
Business.gov.au
https://www.business.gov.au/assistance/search

Starting a Cafe
Peaberrys Coffee Roasters
https://www.peaberrys.com.au/starting-a-cafe/

 



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