How to Start a Food Kiosk Business

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At times, it can seem like the U.S. is overrun with strip malls full of big-box stores. However, with the recent economic troubles, many large retailers and restaurants have been running into financial trouble. At the same time there's been a renaissance of small businesses, such as food carts and kiosks, started by entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of the economic situation.

Things You'll Need

  • A food kiosk or cart
  • A vending license
  • A vehicle
  • Food and beverages
  • A location to open business
  • A small staff

Figure out what your menu will be. Most people starting restaurant businesses have some experience in the industry. If you've never owned or operated a restaurant before, make sure you're ready to prepare and serve food. Practice cooking the food you want to serve until you and other testers (family and friends) find it good--or better yet, delicious!

Determine your menu based on what you cook well, what tastes best, and what you can serve for a profit.

Determine the future location of your food kiosk. If you don't yet have an idea of where you want your food kiosk to be, research and ask around until you get some good information as to where the best location to open a kiosk might be. Popular kiosk spots include malls, flea markets, densely populated areas, and small groupings of other food kiosks or carts.

Get your vending license, health certificates, and other inspections you need to start operating your food kiosk. You can find out what you need to do by checking with local licenses and inspections offices, as well as talking with other food kiosk owners.

Make a business plan and stick to it. Before you even serve your first customer you'll have to invest thousands of dollars in your food kiosk. Then there will be regular fees like rent, employees, and grocery costs. At the beginning, it's a good idea to invest any profits back into the food kiosk until you generate a big enough clientele to make a larger profit and even expand.

Seek professional help. There are a number of businesses that can help in starting a kiosk business. These service providers help take care of things like capital, funding, infrastructure, as well as giving advice on how to maximize profits.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be friendly, healthy, and honest. Just like at any restaurant--or any retailer, for that matter--the customer comes first. Good service is especially important at a small, intimate establishment like a food kiosk--almost as important as good food.
  • Make sure to research every element of opening a food kiosk before actually going for it. You don't want to be caught off guard by something you overlooked when you've already invested so much time, effort, and money.

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