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Starting a Food Business


gingerbeer
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I am pondering starting a very small scale food business in London. Really, what I'm thinking of is just basically a small hole in the wall, selling coffee, tea, and 3 or 4 'street food' items from my home country. It would be very cheap (I am thinking 1-2 pounds per item) and everything would be made fresh and able to be eaten as you walk around. There'd be no seating.

I know this is very general, but, any advice? Anything you wish youd known?

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One place I worked at was very sorry that they signed a lease and remodeled the building, only to discover afterwords that the local health code required two restrooms, separate ones for men & women, instead of the single restroom they had constructed.

I'd consult with local officials about the laws first, and get advice from an architect as well.

That said, my favorite handwashing sinks are the kind with knee-operated pedals so you never have to touch the faucets with dirty hands.

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That's good advice, although it wouldn't even have restrooms. It would really just be a little hole in the wall stall type thing.

In many areas here in the US, you would be required to have an employee restroom. Plus handwashing facilities in the food prep area.

That's a good point. There would definitely be handwashing facilities, but I can see that there'd also be a need for an employee bathroom.

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This is a fairly basic point but I would suggest that in your particular case location is key. Obviously if you are providing quick food on the go then somewhere easily visible with lots of passing trade (i.e. commuters/ tourists) would be ideal. Watch out for competition as well - your food may be much better than that supplied by the sandwich chain around the corner, but many people have a lunchtime routine that is difficult to break.

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I have to say that I love this sort of spot, but please consider putting up a stand-up counter for eating, even if it is just a three-foot long shelf along the wall. In poor weather, people appreciate a dry spot to wolf down lunch. Figure out if municipal rules allow you to put a bench (or a compact folding chair or two) out in front of your space--people sitting and snacking are good advertising, as passers-by can SEE what you're serving.

Incidentally, I encountered a food kiosk co-op in Berkeley, CA--an indoor shared space occupied by multiple small vendors of ethnic specialties (can't remember its name, but it was on Shattuck). But I thought the concept was brilliant: small entrepreneurs sharing space & overhead, while attracting a larger clientele due to the variety of offerings.

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Find a similar business and see if the owner will let you pick their brain. (-Reassuring them of course that you’re place will be nowhere near there’s). Not sure if it’s the same in the UK but I would also seek out an accountant specializing in the restaurant/takeout industry. A good one can educate you on just about every obvious and hidden cost you’ll likely incur. You might have to pay for the consultation but it’s a good investment.

Assuming you may require financing, start to put your idea in writing so you have a prospectus/business plan to offer investors or loan providers. You should be able to find a free template example online. If not, a basic software pkg is not expensive. This site (US based) had a couple interesting links http://cafeproducts.com/coffeeshopstartup/login.html

That wasn't chicken

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I really like the concept of Fernandez & Wells in SoHo. A variety of simple Spanish foods and good coffee. Fresh and delicious.

For the coffee side of things, contact the folks at Square Mile Coffee. Listen to their thoughts about producing and serving quality coffee. They are at the top of their game.

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