Wondering how to start a salad restaurant? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Selling Points for Salad Restaurant Startups
As Americans become more health-conscious, the demand for healthy food and dining alternatives is growing at a rapid pace. Although salad entrees and side salads have been standard menu fare for decades, the demand for salad-centered menus has led to the emergence of salad restaurants -- a vibrant restaurant concept for a nation that consumes more than 9 billion pounds of lettuce per year.
But launching a salad restaurant isn't as easy as stocking a salad bar. Profitable salad restaurants offer a selection of specialty and gourmet salads as well as other items designed to complement a produce-based menu.
Startup Concerns for Salad Restaurant Entrepreneurs
Salad restaurant entrepreneurs face several unique challenges during the business planning process. The fundamentals are the same as most other restaurants; the differences are based on the specialized nature of a salad restaurant's entrees and patron base.
- Menu Diversity. Even though you will likely emphasize your restaurant's salad theme in your marketing and advertising messages, you can't assume that all of your patrons will want to order a specialty salad. To satisfy families and groups, your menu will also need to include soups, sandwiches, wraps, paninis and other dishes.
- Supplier Relationships. It's mission critical to establish relationships with fresh produce suppliers as soon as possible. To protect your business from supply chain disruptions, you might want to consider developing supplier relationships with multiple produce wholesalers.
- Food Safety. Health and sanitation are concerns for any restaurant. However, recent outbreaks of contaminated produce have made the public hyper-sensitive to produce handling protocols, making it necessary to publish food sanitation guidelines and educate your staff about food safety issues. For up-to-date information about produce safety concerns, contact United Fresh, the trade association for the fresh produce industry.
Business Plan Mechanics for Salad Restaurants
If you haven't written a business plan for your new salad restaurant, it's time to get started.
At Gaebler, we advise new business owners to keep your business plan simple. Length and polish aren't as important as consistency, accuracy and thoroughness.
If your time is limiting, outline the essentials of your salad restaurant's business plan now and make a commitment to come back to it later.
Is Your Community Business-Friendly?
This is a local business, for the most part. That means you need to get to know local officials 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 providing services and incentives to small companies? If not, maybe you should consider other locations for your salad restaurant.
Check Out the Competition
Long before you open a salad restaurant in your town, it's essential to determine how strong the competition is. Try our link below to generate a list of competitors in your area. After following the link, enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of salad restaurants in your area.
How tough is the competition in the market you are considering? If the competition is too tough, you may need to think about starting the business in a different area or even start a completely different business instead.
Studying the Market
If you want to open a salad restaurant the next step is to learn from folks who are already in business. If you think your local competitors will give you advice, you're being overoptimistic. It'd be crazy for them to teach you the business.
On the other hand, an individual who has a salad restaurant on the other side of the country will be much more likely to talk with you, after they realize you reside far away from them and won't be stealing their local customers. Indeed, many experienced entrepreneurs enjoy offering advice to startup entrepreneurs. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
How do you locate an owner of a salad restaurant who is willing to talk to you but doesn't live nearby?
It's easy. Here's a link you can use to find a mentor outside of your area.
Why You Should Buy (Instead of Start) a Salad Restaurant
It's no secret that entrepreneurs have a strong impulse to build companies from the ground up.
Yet a healthier and safer strategy may be to purchase an existing salad restaurant.
Existing salad restaurants are proven operations with dependable revenue streams. As an added bonus, you'll also gain the ability to headaches and hassles of startup trial-and-error.
Explore Franchising Options
Your chances of achieving the entrepreneurial goal of thriving in your new business are greatly increased if you become a franchisee rather than going it alone.
Prior to starting a salad restaurant, a smart move is to assess whether there are good franchise opportunities available that 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 getting started as an entrepreneur may be of interest to you.
If you came here to learn about selling to salad 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.