How to Open a Lunch Bar

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Operating a lunch bar requires hard work and long hours.
Operating a lunch bar requires hard work and long hours. (Image: tableware served for mealtime image by Alena Yakusheva from Fotolia.com)

Most people nowadays grapple with longer working hours and have less time and inclination to prepare their own lunch. This has led to an increased demand for food outlets, making a lunch bar a lucrative business option. Opening a lunch bar is not just about preparing and serving food: it is about selecting the right location, providing the right ambiance and being innovative in your menu options. Well trained and courteous staff can make a big difference to the success of your lunch bar.

Find a suitable location for your lunch bar. Collect information about the other food-service businesses in your preferred area such as fast food outlets, restaurants and coffee bars. If possible, speak to people who use these facilities and try to find out if there are specific requirements that are not met by the existing outlets. Select a place that is close to offices and businesses to ensure a steady clientele.

Gather information about the area building and health codes. Find out what’s allowed and what’s not. Hire the services of a shopfitter to prepare your layout. Select someone who has prior experience with designing a lunch bar. Ensure the kitchen is designed to allow sufficient space for equipment such as stoves, ovens, cooking ranges, dish-washing sinks, utensils and storage shelves. Make sure the seating arrangements are comfortable without cramping. Choose the ambiance aspects to match the sensibilities of your potential customers.

Determine the menu you will serve your customers. Include foods that are healthy, nutritious, and easy to prepare and serve. Make sure you offer something different from other food outlets in the area. Calculate the amount you will need to spend on equipment, furniture, accessories, groceries and employees. Prepare an estimate of these costs and check to see if you can meet expenses with your own finances or with help from family and friends. Contact banks in the area for an operating line of credit or a loan.

Submit your lunch bar design plans, drawings and specification sheets to the health department along with the prescribed fee for approval. Complete the necessary paperwork and go through the necessary facility inspections to get the license to start your lunch bar.

Complete the construction and design work on the interior of your lunch bar. Give specific instructions to the electrical and plumbing contractors regarding the layout so that there are no glitches in your lunch bar operation.

Advertise for employees in newspaper classifieds and on the Internet. Conduct interviews and pick candidates who have experience with preparing the kind of food you are looking to serve. Provide employees with training on the various jobs they’ll need to perform, including making guests feel welcome and using the cash register.

Install all equipment and furniture. Purchase the materials and groceries you will require for the first couple of days. Advertise the opening of your lunch bar with fliers and banners. Provide discount coupons to offices located in the vicinity. On the day of the opening, invite people passing by for free samples. Try to get local media coverage of your lunch bar opening.

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