Your business: how to open a dining room

* The calculations use the average data for the World

The catering industry is of great interest to entrepreneurs and investors. The number of cafes and restaurants is increasing every year. Of course, this industry is very profitable and promising. However, the competition in this market is so great that a year after the opening of almost half of the catering establishments closes. The reasons for the majority of failures in this business are associated with a high level of competition, the wrong place and specialization of the institution. Experts are confident that even under such conditions, new players have every chance of success with proper positioning.

Of all the catering establishments in our country, cafes, restaurants and eateries predominate. Nevertheless, there is another format of institutions that is familiar to each of us, has a centuries-old history and is undeservedly ignored today. It's about messes. As a matter of fact, this catering system, established by one of the first decrees of the Soviet government in 1917, has no analogues in the world. Although during the time of perestroika, almost all canteens were closed together with the enterprises on which they worked, this format of catering establishments did not cease to exist at all. Still relatively few modern dining rooms belong to the corporate food segment, the potential of which, according to experts, is very great. But dining rooms are gradually appearing, which are designed for eating out and working and compete (sometimes very successfully) with the usual cafes and restaurants.

So, modern dining rooms are divided by target audience into closed and open. Closed canteens are intended for corporate catering of organized groups (enterprise employees, students, etc.), while open canteens accept all visitors. Canteens can be located on the territory of any particular institution or complex (school, hospital, rest house, manufacturing enterprise, office center). They differ by technological principle. There are full-cycle establishments where dishes are prepared from scratch, and dining rooms, in the kitchen of which dishes only go through the last stage of preparation or even just warm up. Dining rooms also differ in the form of service: with a distribution line, with service by waiters or free-flo (“free movement”). The latter option involves the absence of waiters and the presence of an open kitchen, when cooking takes place right in front of visitors to the establishment.

The main principles of this dining room: a not very diverse menu, which includes, as a rule, the first dish, the second dish, snacks and soft drinks; maximum use of space (compact tables and chairs, lack of partitions); ascetic design of the hall. In order to determine the format of the dining room, several factors must be taken into account at once: budget, location of the future institution, price category. Getting into the corporate sector, although possible, is difficult. This market already has its leaders - the largest corporate catering operators. To get around such competitors, considerable investments are needed. But the catering point, even of a small capacity - for fifty places, has every chance of success. However, if you choose this option, carefully choose the location of the dining room and the target audience. For example, it is most profitable to open a cheap dining room in the industrial zone of the city, where there are large manufacturing enterprises, close to universities and institutes. A win-win option is to open the dining room at the student campus, but the option with office centers is much more risky. Although the format of the dining room causes nostalgia for adults in the Soviet past, it does not make an impression of respectability.

Of course, such establishments are not suitable for holding business meetings, but regular office clerks will prefer to go "for lunch" not to the dining room, but to the cafe. Experts also do not advise organizing a canteen in or near major shopping centers. In any of these centers, as a rule, there are already network cafes, pizzerias, sushi bars. Only people working in the shopping center will eat in the dining room, but you can’t count on high attendance.

First you need to choose the legal form of running your business and arrange all the necessary documents. To open a dining room, you can register as an individual entrepreneur or legal entity (LLC). If the business is small, then the most suitable form is IP.

Simultaneously (and preferably in advance) with the execution of all necessary documents, start looking for a place under the dining room. It must satisfy the following requirements: have a good location and preferably a minimum of competitors nearby. Direct competitors include other canteens, cafes, restaurants, stalls and shops that sell ready-made food and even convenience foods. It is advisable to visit the nearest ones (within walking distance of the chosen place), see the interior, study the menu, and observe the visitors. In the process, note the shortcomings of competitors in order to prevent them in your institution. These may include a monotonous menu, poor taste of dishes, dirty dishes, uncomfortable furniture, lack of signs and other identification marks, etc.

The requirements for the dining room are the same as for other catering establishments. All these norms can be found in the following documents: Civil Code of the Russian Federation (retail); Law on Consumer Protection; Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of August 15, 1997 N 1036 On approval of the rules for the provision of catering services; SanPiN 08/18/2019.959-00 "Sanitary and epidemiological requirements for public catering organizations, production and turnover of food raw materials and food products in them", approved by the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Russian Federation on February 25, 2000

In the next step, determine what you need to purchase. First of all, you will need gas or electric ovens, cooking and baking ovens, cutting and production tables, sinks, tables and chairs for visitors, dishes, cutlery, various tools and containers for cooking. Do not forget about textiles (curtains). Unlike a restaurant or cafe, the interior of the dining room is as simple as possible and no frills. You can stylize it under Soviet times (for establishments located near factories) or make the interior in a modern style (for student canteens). If possible, do not save on the designer. A good specialist will give your institution a special atmosphere, which will subsequently attract new customers to you.

By the way, the help of a professional will also help to draw up a menu. Many eateries prefer home-cooked dishes prepared according to classic Soviet recipes. The menu for the day may include a small number of dishes within one category (for example, one or two types of soup, several salads, etc.), but this set must be changed every day. This is not as difficult as it seems, because, firstly, canteens often work only five to six days a week on an abbreviated schedule (for example, from 8 to 17 hours). Secondly, since visitors to the dining room cannot wait long for the order to be ready, all dishes are prepared in advance, and then they are only heated and poured / laid out on plates. The hardest thing to calculate is the required number of servings per day. Subsequently, when you receive data on the dining room attendance and consumer preferences, you can determine with relatively high accuracy how much and what kind of food you need to cook on a given day. In addition to the preparation and sale of breakfasts, lunches and dinners, the canteens also provide their customers with the opportunity to take food to take away, as well as serve corporate events and various events. Consider courier delivery of food to your home. This will increase your costs, but it can be a very popular service.

Decide on your pricing policy in advance. Nevertheless, despite all the tricks of the owners, the canteens are designed primarily for customers with an average (tending to a low) income level, for whom it is too expensive to have lunch in a restaurant or even a cafe every day. Prices also depend on the region and competitors. However, do not out of the desire to reduce the cost of dishes to degrade their quality. Better make the portions a little smaller. Dumping is also not the best way out, which leads only to price races, but adversely affects all rivals and negatively affects the loyalty of visitors.

Finally, its staff plays a major role in the success of your entire enterprise. It does not impose excessive requirements. You do not need cooks who specialize in preparing complex exotic dishes. As a rule, any cook can cook hodgepodge or buckwheat porridge with cutlets. The main criteria for selecting personnel are conscientiousness, efficiency of work (this also applies to waiters, and cooks who work “on the job”) and courtesy. A manager will be required for a small dining room (you can take over these functions at least during the first time), two cooks working in shifts, two kitchen workers to help the cook, a dishwasher, a handyman, a cashier (seller), cleaners, waiters ( if the dining room format implies their availability).

With the favorable location of the dining room, it does not require special advertising, except, perhaps, for attracting the attention of signs, signs (if your establishment is in the courtyards) and announcements about the opening of a new establishment, hung around the district. A slightly more costly but effective way to attract new customers is to distribute leaflets or booklets with information about your dining room, examples of dishes from the menu with prices and address.

So, let's try to calculate the costs of opening a small dining room for fifty seats in the industrial zone of your city. Renting a room will cost from 900 thousand rubles per year, but if repair is necessary, the total amount will increase significantly. All necessary equipment, furniture, inventory and utensils will require at least 450 thousand rubles. About 200 thousand rubles will be spent on wages to staff for the first time. Overhead costs range from 150 thousand rubles. Thus, the opening of a small dining room requires from 2-2.5 million rubles. You can recoup all expenses under the most favorable circumstances by the end of the first year of work. However, a time frame of two years seems more realistic. As a further development of the business, it is worth considering the possibility of opening a whole network of canteens and creating your own franchise.

Sysoeva Lilia

(c) - a portal to business plans and guidelines for starting a small business 08/18/2019

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