Wondering how to start a lunch restaurant? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Lunch Restaurant Dynamics
While some restaurateurs specialize in gourmet dinner experiences, a growing number of restaurant entrepreneurs are tapping into the market for quality lunch fare.
Studies commissioned by the National Restaurant Association have shown that 75% of Americans eat a lunch prepared outside the home at least once a week -- good news for aspiring lunch restaurant entrepreneurs.
But opening a lunch restaurant isn't the same as launching a typical dinner restaurant. Since the majority of your patrons will be workers, you will need to understand the office patterns of your local community and proactively identify the issues that are important to your specific customer base.
Qualities of Successful Lunch Restaurant Startups
Lunch restaurants are unique. As a startup lunch restaurant entrepreneur, you need to equip your establishment to leverage the industry's unique value propositions as a way of acquiring and retaining a loyal patron base.
- Location. Location may be the most important feature for a lunch restaurant startup. Ideally, you'll want to be located in a high traffic area near office parks and employment centers.
- Quality. Like any restaurant, food quality is a major issue for lunch restaurant startups. If the quality of the food you serve is mediocre (or worse), negative comments will spread like wildfire throughout workplaces in your area.
- Speed. The real challenge in opening a lunch restaurant is that your food needs to be both good and fast. Your patrons only have a limited amount of time for lunch, so don't include any items on your menu that can't be prepared and served quickly (less than 15 minutes).
- Ambiance. Many lunch diners use restaurants as locations for business networking opportunities. Lunch restaurant owners need to be sensitive to the acoustic requirements of their establishments. The idea is to create a pleasant ambience that facilitates conversation.
Tips for Writing a Lunch Restaurant Business Plan
Many new lunch restaurant owners feel unprepared for the challenge of writing a business plan.
But even though you have primary responsibility for drafting a business plan for your lunch restaurant, you aren't entirely alone. These days, there are tons of great resources and solutions available to support the business plan writing process.
Our Business Plan Help section discusses some of the business plan resources other entrepreneurs have found useful.
Is Your Community Business-Friendly?
This is a local business, for the most part. As such, you should get to know the local government before locking in on doing business in any given community. Are officials truly interested in retaining and assisting existing business, attracting new businesses, providing a pro-business climate for success, and offering support to local business owners? If not, maybe you should consider other locations for your lunch restaurant.
Prior to launching a lunch restaurant in your town, it's worthwhile to determine how you will fit in the competitive landscape. Use the link below to get a list of local competitors in your city. After following the link, enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of lunch restaurants in your area.
Gain a knowledge of how existing firms have positioned themselves in the marketplace, and then design your business in a way that sets you apart from the others.
Getting Advice from Experienced Entrepreneurs
If you are interested in starting a lunch restaurant, it's essential that you speak with somebody who is already in the business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. What's in it for them?
Thankfully, an owner of a a lunch restaurant in a location that is not competitive to you can be a great learning resource for you, after they realize you reside far away from them and won't be stealing their local customers. In fact, they are often very willing to share startup advice with you. If you are persistent, you can find a business mentor who is willing to help you out.
Do you know how to find an entrepreneur who is running a lunch restaurant outside of your area who is willing to talk?
Here's how we would do it. Try the useful link below and key in a random city/state or zipcode.
Pros & Cons of Buying a Lunch Restaurant
An acquisition can be a great way to enter lunch restaurant ownership. But it's important to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of buying a business before you decide on either an acquisition or startup approach.
PROs: Existing companies have proven business models and a history of profitability. They should also have some degree of brand recognition and an established customer base.
DRAWBACKS: On the downside, lunch restaurant acquisitions can be difficult to adapt to your unique business philosophy so it's important to make sure the business is capable of achieving your ownership goals before you initiate the buying process.
Consider Buying a Franchise
As an entrepreneur, your chances growing your business immediately improve when you opt to franchise and benefit from the prior work of others and their lessons learned.
Before you get too far along in your plan to open a lunch restaurant, you should check out whether franchise opportunities in your space might help you avoid common entrepreneurial mistakes.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you already are in business and came here to learn about growing an existing lunch restaurant, these resources will come in handy:
If you sell to lunch restaurants, you're in the wrong place. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.