The Caterers Corner
Getting started in Georgia Caterers Corner: Getting started in Georgia
By Aludwig (Aludwig) on Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 10:00 am: Edit

I am interested in opening a coffee house that will serve coffee and pastries only.
The only thing is I'm not exactly sure what is needed to get something like this going.
I would greatly appreciate any advice.
Thank you in advance.


By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 10:43 am: Edit

Then you definitely do not need to be opening a business. I assure you, there is little anyone can tell you online that will change that. However, this is a good start. At least you are seeking information.

No one can help you seriously unless we know something about you and your background....

Ever head of Starbucks? sure you have, they do it right... go to work for them or a similar company, learn the business, work it, manage it, supervise a chain of them... IF you still have THIS dream after achieving success with them, then you may be ready to face the horrific statistics of opening an independent business... Chances are you will succeed at that point....

I don't know if this is the advice you were looking for, but IF you have any business sense, you will understand what I am trying to tell you... if not, then let these words stop you from making a big mistake.

By Ginamiriam (Ginamiriam) on Sunday, December 15, 2002 - 06:41 pm: Edit

Alicia- Catergreat is sooo right. DO NOT attempt to do this if you have no idea what kind of equipment you need, what product you will serve, where will this facility be, is there a market for what you want to do (you may THINK there is but that doesn't mean there actually is), what kind of money you are looking at investing, etc. Follow Catergreat's advice and learn, learn, learn, read, read, read, research everything. And while you are at it, you could have the best food and service in the world but if you don't have a marketing system in place, you will not succeed. This is a hard business and the failure rate is tremendous! The better prepared you are, the more chances of success you will have. Good luck! Gina

By Aludwig (Aludwig) on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 05:58 am: Edit

Thank you very much for the advice that you both have given me.
The thing is that this is something that will take awhile.
As far as knowing what kind of food pastries only.

The type of place I want to have and I know for sure there is nothing around here like it is a place that people can go to be served with no hussle and bussle.

Something with a european flair to it.

By Mbw (Mbw) on Monday, December 16, 2002 - 07:06 pm: Edit

First of all Catergreat, and Gina are right, but I am glad I didn't say it. With the warnings out of the way you are now ready for some advice.

You are here for advice, and this is the place for it. I too would ask about what equipment to buy, what to serve, and be open to suggestions. It shows ME you MAY have a chance. If you are born for business nothing anyone can say will deter you, but it is their duty to try to scare you off. It weeds out to wannabe's, and posers.

The #1 ingredient in ANY food service business is LOVE. If you love what you do all other things may just fall into place.

#1 You need a space that the health department will let you serve from. Finding an existing, or recently closed location is the safest bet. Getting stuck at city hall for 8 months CLOSED while your equipment lease, rent and other expenses pile up can get ugly.

#2 you need ALL the necessary licenses for your location. Start at city hall.

#3 Insurance

Ok now lets get started.

In general:
Restaurants DON'T MAKE $$$ bars do. If you don't have a license to sell wine, or booze you are screwed as far as money goes, and will need to work three times as hard.

Espresso is booze:
Ok it isn't booze, but it DOES fit the BAR rule. If you don't have a license to sell booze, an espresso machine may do just fine.

If your locals aren't used to espresso, then lots of coffee may be good enough. Try flavored coffee (I hate it). It is very popular, and can be made by using extracts if your supplier doesn't have it. Many coffee vendors will also give you ALL YOUR BREWING EQUIPMENT FREE as long as you meet their minimum order. Also a few small electric toaster ovens will allow you to bake fresh cookies, as you need them. The smell alone will sell them. You CAN do limited cooking even if you DON'T have a hood, but be sure the fire, health, and other officials concerned are aware. Try giving them a few cookies. If you can, buy Organic/Fair Trade coffee. These coffees don't cost too much more than the NON-certified stuff, and is a nice touch. StarF&#ks coffee does buy a little but they don't push it. (I pay $5.50lb for dark panama Organic)

Speed kills (or lack of it)
Don't buy/lease crappy equipment. I spent $500 on a toaster instead of several cheap ones, and it was well worth it. Waiting for one bagel to toast with a line out the door is BAD. Get a conveyor toaster if you may be busy ($300-$1,200) also most NEW equipment is far more efficient, and will save time, money, power in the long run. Some notable exceptions are Hobart Mixers/Slicers.

Ice machine <--prepare for summer AND catering
Deli case (if you have room, and are displaying foods)
Freezer (for sandbagging lemon bars etc)
Insulated air pots <for coffee, and milk too (ask coffee co to provide)
Coffee brewer air pot, or huge sprinkler type (try to avoid pour over types unless you are doing diner style service. The burners almost ALWAYS burn the coffee after 40 minutes, and the refresh rate is bad.)
Slicer $1000-$4000 or else
Toaster oven
Electric soup warmer
Under counter fridge (for milk etc)
Sandwich station (for bagels, sandwiches, salads)
3 compartment sink (required)
Dishwasher (optional)
Cash register
Fax machine

You may not need all of the above, but .

If all you are serving is coffee, and pastry then a coffee vendor, and one or two good bakeries should be enough for you. Take a month to go to local places for R&D. Take a trip to somewhere to see what they serve. Paris maybe?

Good luck!

By Catergreat (Catergreat) on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 01:22 am: Edit

very nice information.... if alicia decides to get into the business without any experience, your advice will supply her a strong foundation of about 10% of what she needs to know!!

It is the other 90% I worry about....

hot cocoa anyone?


By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 06:26 pm: Edit

It's always the advice they need the most that they don't want to take (i.e. "go to work for them or a similar company, learn the business, work it, manage it, supervise a chain of them..."). That's why so many don't make it; you just can't build a business on dreams alone. Sigh!

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 07:58 pm: Edit

Don't you all think the coffee bar thing is kind of played out? Lord knows, Starbucks is building a new store at the end of my driveway!
Why not go in for something on the cutting edge of new trends? Like a teahouse with exotic teas? Or maybe a cocoa bar with brews from fresh cocoa nibs?

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 08:21 pm: Edit

Trends are just that, here today and gone when the next one comes along.

Coffee houses may seem like a trend but they have been around for centuries, in the middle east and Europe.

Add a Message

This is a private posting area. A valid username and password combination is required to post messages to this discussion.