How to Start a Snack Bar

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Snack bars are found in many types of businesses, and they can be an attractive operation to start for prospective entrepreneurs. Not only do snack bars come with a built-in customer base, but the cost to lease the retail space for one is typically much lower than that of a traditional food business. If you want to open a snack bar, you will need to do a bit of research before starting your venture.


  1. Find a location for your snack bar. Good places to consider include airports, bus and train stations, fitness centers and gyms, university and college campuses, and inside of laundromats.

  2. Contact the owners of the locations you're considering, and ask them whether they are open to having a snack bar in their facility, as well as how much they would charge to rent out the space. They will give you information regarding whether you need to carry insurance and their signage requirements.

    Some businesses, such as laundromats, may be less restrictive as far as how your snack bar is run. But other businesses, such as fitness centers, will have more requirements. For example, a fitness center may demand that you only sell healthful food items.

  3. Call your local Small Business Administration (SBA) office or your city's small business development center to see what permits you'll need to start your snack bar. Most areas require that you get an assumed name certificate ("doing business as" or DBA) from your county and an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. If your state collects sales taxes, you may also need to get a resale permit or tax identification number.

  4. Purchase the retail supplies you'll need for your snack bar, including merchandise bags, signage, a cash register and merchant account, display shelving, and cold storage from a company such as American Retail Supply or Store Supply Warehouse.

  5. Buy the snacks you will sell from a company such as Nationwide Candy or Vending Connection. If you want to sell fruits and vegetables, contact your local farmers market and get the contact information for their vendors.

    If you want to sell prepared foods, such as sandwiches and salads, you will either need to buy them wholesale from a local food business or obtain the licenses needed to prepare and sell food to the public in your state. This typically means obtaining a food enterprise permit, food manager certificate, food handler permits, and getting a health inspection of your snack bar area.



  • Photo Credit snack bar image by Craig Hanson from

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