The Great Hall
Want to open cafe/tea room, where do I start.. The Great Hall: Want to open cafe/tea room, where do I start..
By Sherry on Monday, July 05, 1999 - 11:24 am: Edit

I have been catering for 10 years out of my home, have taken many courses in Hospitality Management program before catering. I now have opportunity with 3 other ladies to open a lunch establishment on rural road. Lots of new development, 200 new homes a month going in, 60,000 cars through this intersection and close to area where I live that would draw ladies to lunch.

Looking to be opened for lunch only 11-2 or 3. Offering a changing daily menu with maybe some favorites. Don't really want to get into the high tea thing. Always have catering to fall back on for parties. Would rather not be opened on Sat. or sundays and leave those days for bookings of private parties.


By Sherry on Monday, July 05, 1999 - 11:32 am: Edit

The site will be part of a 6 office complex with different facades, this particular one is 1,800 sq. feet (part of this is upstairs) with small courtyard in back. Can decorate however I want. Is this enough space, how do I even remotely get started, are there books I can read to get some insite. The other ladies are interested in using upstairs for their jewely business and possibly have another tenant do lunch style show walk throughs.

Guess I just need a sounding board on where and how to get started. I would prefer having one of these ladies as an equal partner in the food business part of this venture.

Any comments appreciated

By jeee2 on Thursday, July 15, 1999 - 02:32 pm: Edit


You obviously have no experience, don't consider it until you've done some time in a similar operation. I also wouldn't go into business with ladies, broads yeh, but never ladies.

=IF= the catering operation can carry you then maybe but learning on the fly has doomed many before you.

Look for legal protection in case the "ladies" go under or they'll drag you with them.

Me and my partner ( a broad) had 25 yrs experience between us when we made the jump.

Regards, Gerard

By Sherry on Friday, July 16, 1999 - 10:22 pm: Edit

I really have no doubt we can do this. There has been a change. Only a friend and are are discussing the tea room. I have a good catering business now and we could increase that by having a full kitchen (not my home kitchen) to cook out of. Until the tea room took off, we could offer carry out casseroles for families. That would really go over big in our area. We have visited several tea rooms, none seat over 50 and seem to make it with two waitresses. We would both cook, we just need the right location--the only holdup.

By Karen Upright on Sunday, July 18, 1999 - 10:51 am: Edit

Location is the most important thing. I had a little place - 24 seats, 8 tables. 1 waiter handled the floor, a utility person to fill drinks/do dishes/bus tables, etc. and 1 cook. I didn't make it for various reasons. If I had it to do over I would: 1. open only for lunch (I did lunch and dinner and it nearly killed me) 2. aggressively pursue the catering because that's where the money really was, and also renting out the room for private parties.

I used to be sous at a gourmet-to-go place. It's a good thing, but be wary of spreading yourself too thin. First, there are only so many things you can do and do well at once. Secondly, people get confused if they can't understand your concept. Are you a caterer, a restaurant, a to-go place, what? If you already have good catering business, then consider the cafe an expansion of that.

I have a new business now, with a partner, instead of just me and it's a much better thing.


By foodguy on Sunday, January 16, 2000 - 07:16 am: Edit

Sounds like you have a great idea but I think you need to do some more consideration about a few things. I just opened a tearoom in May of 99 and I was surprized to find out a few things I didnt know already. In your case one of the problems will be 4 partners.. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. ( If you know what I mean) Also I think that if you are going for a tearoom feel, that a new office building may not be the spot for you. You might want something alittle more rustic in appearance. Location is everything!!!!

If your catering business is strong than you have a better chance than most but the idea of new menus daily might be a little scary when you start looking at your food cost in wasted product. You also have to carry a larger inventory when you are doing that and that means dollars! My advice is to keep your menu simple maybe 4 or five nice sandwiches, a few nice salads and desserts. You can change your menu monthly if you like.

Good luck!

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