Hi, fellow restaurateurs. I have been following the forum every week or so for several months and consider it to be a valuable pool of information. A bit of background: I have been a restaurant owner/operator and private chef sporadically over the decades, but have been running a family construction company for the past 12 years which we have recently sold.
We are seriously considering purchasing a business consisting of two attached units: a small ice-cream shop (take-out) and 30+ seat coffee/tea shop. The location is excellent (waterfront, downtown, at a quay, lots of tourists, boaters & events) though sales vary tremendously with the season. The present owners are absentee and wish to retire having started 15 or so years ago. There is exclusivity in the lease for hard ice cream (although a neighbouring store sells gelato and soft-serve), and the menu is limited, both by the lease and equipment, to baked goods, desserts and sandwiches. Another tenant also sells coffee and baked goods.
A bit worn, neglected and dull, the business is ready to be taken to the next level. We would continue with ice-cream for sure on the one side (70% of present sales) but side 2 needs work and there is opportunity. Options could be:
- [*]more focus on the tea aspect (types, flavours, etc), a popular beverage here, and suitable accompaniments; [*]expanding the ice-cream aspect to become more of an old-fashioned soda/fountain parlour (none around but we do have cool winters) [*]developing a good menu of salads, sandwiches, etc. as there is limited immediate competition, that involve little ‘cooking’ since burners/grill and an extraction system are not possible (presently licensed with sinks, a small counter oven and plug-in appliances, with both units sharing this ‘kitchen’). I reckon I would need to think of dozens of ways to use an oven!
Oh, and did I mention the units are tiny? Around 400 sq each. We like the idea of separating the units in a couple of years, keeping the ice-cream side perhaps and selling the ‘cafe’.
I would value your opinions as to what would concept/ideas you think I should consider.
Thanks for listening!
Great idea, chewingthefat, and breakfasts are my specialty! But I cannot have any ranges/griddles/exhaust systems in the kitchen – plug-in small appliances and prepared food only so quite limiting……
Karen, if no one close to you does a killer Breakfast, you might think about doing that…also get a few killer signature items like a fantastic burger, or chili, etc., make your place a “crave food” haven or Heaven!
Is it a higher end area? If it is I would consider some quality panini and salads. Use quality ingredients: fresh mozz, local produce, top quality deli meats. You could always consider hot dogs as well, soups and chili.
Thank-you very much for the input, everyone. I will seriously look at perhaps serving the sandwiches with a deli concept – if it works out at all. Right now, the owners are still asking too much for the business so I’m not sure how things will go. If nothing materialises, there’s another opportunity waiting in the wings I’m sure.
Mike, my first restaurant (1982) featured a Club sandwich (which I named a ‘Canadian Club’ as it used back bacon) that we made using 3/4″ thick bread from one of the best local bakeries in town, toasted triple-decker, and it was a smash hit too! Served in a basket with chips and a pickle, it was really popular. Boy, that takes me back to when I was young and naive instead of older and cynical!
Karen, you can do allot with a couple of West Bend Griddles and or one or two sandwich presses, a cooler and a meat slicer. If you want to grill, throw a BBQ grill out back. That pretty much describes my first little take out joint. I had ice cream too, Taylor soft serve machine, but wish I would have gone with hard ice cream and a freezer. My biggest ice cream seller were my MALTS, I had one girl that did strictly malts and shakes. At our height, we averaged around $800 a day for lunch in the middle of no where.
My main thing was that everything had to be fresh, we even grew our own tomatoes in season and even lettuce right on the property, and this was before the food network and chef Ramsey. And I only bought top of the line premium meats and produce and had no problem getting a premium price.
On edit: The bread, make sure you use good bread. In my area, I kept it simple. I used a white, wheat and rye, 3/4″ thick sliced bread. I bought it from Sysco frozen, but it was out of their premium line. Everyone loved it and it made the best damn grilled sandwiches. My grilled Turkey Reuben, BLT and Club sandwiches were my best sellers. I used to get $7.00 for the Club and it was huge, not “allot” of meat, around 6oz, but the perception that the bread made when the customer saw it made it look like a value. It stood around 7″ tall with the bacon, lettuce and tomato… And this was around ten years ago.
Hi Karen, Italian deli case with meats and display salads. When the customer orders a deli Sand, Pannini, Or Sub you can slice the meats to order, serve with a side signature salad. I would have an array of crusty breads and sub rolls, The Hard ice cream is a no brainier, it sells no matter what…………………..Best of luck………….Billyb
Help with cafe focus for increased profits please!
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