Owning a café is the dream of many. Picture your own little café space where you interact with the community, delighting them with the coffee, food and atmosphere. Few people take the leap to make their dream a reality. It’s time you lived your dream. But before you start shopping for espresso machines, there are a few planning tips you need to consider.
1. Establish a goal for your café
Do you want to sell just coffee and maybe a few shelf-stable nibbles or snacks from a small nook? Will you go organic or gluten-free? Will you have a dedicated kitchen out back? If you plan to run a small, coffee-centric café, you won’t need as much fridge space as a large one, for example, and you will only require one small espresso machine. If you’re planning on an organic business with plenty of meals on the menu, then you’ll need a good kitchen and plenty of fridge space.
2. Choose a theme for your café
Once you’ve decided on how much food you plan to serve and size of your café, you can set a clear theme. Are you hoping to create a formal or informal experience for your customers? Are you thinking sleek, slick and modern or more homely and cosy? Plan the tone, theme and style for you café, and stick to it. This gives you something to plan around. If you’re going for cosy and intimate, think mismatched wooden chairs and candles or small lamps on the tables. If you’re thinking of choosing a modern, New York theme, use surfaces such as glass and chrome with a touch of marble or dramatic pendant lighting for a touch of luxury.
3. Choose fit-outs carefully
Good advice when it comes to fitting out your new café is, “leave it to the professionals”. You may think it looks easy to install a bench top or an espresso machine. But if your expertise in these matters falls short, then trying to renovate yourself will cost you time and wont look as good in the end. Expert shop fitters like Tu Projects have designed and installed thousands of projects on behalf of their customers. They will help you design a stylish interior that works for you and allows for a good flow of customers through the space. Hire the professionals to do all the hard work and heavy lifting and you will discover that they can help you best plan and design your dream café.
4. Location, location, location
And location again, just for good measure! This adage exists for a reason. The cheapest business space in the world isn’t worth anything if it’s in such an isolated or inappropriate location that no one turns up to walk through its doors. No matter how inexpensive a location is, you will still have running costs. So look for a location with lots of foot traffic to ensure customers walk in the door. Pick a location that has plenty of other drawcards nearby—such as a shopping centre, sporting ground or train station, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a location where lots of pedestrians will walk past you—one that is easily accessible and has great visibility.
5. Getting the word out
Marketing starts before the doors open. It’s important to get as many people through the door in your first few weeks because word-of-mouth recommendations can be the most powerful marketing tool around. Social media is another incredibly useful marketing tool, and it’s completely free! Also, install excellent signage even while renovating to tell all the people walking past (your future customers!) what is to come. Do letterbox drops in the local area as well, and you should have plenty of people in the door from day one.
These tips will give you something to think about when designing your dream café. Whether you’re planning a small hole-in-the-wall coffee-only store or a bright, modern café serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, careful planning at the design stage will ensure that your café is a place that people will like to hang out (and drink plenty of coffee).