The restaurant business is one of the toughest industries to break into. Many close within the first couple of years. Even if you have the right location, excellent service, and delicious food, there is no guarantee that you are going to survive. That doesn’t mean that you need to stay away from the food service business if you are really passionate about it.
There are other ways to make money with food and cooking. In fact, many are going to be much better than restaurants anyway because there is a lower barrier to entry. The key is to fill a need for a community or area and go from there. Food is essential so there will always be a need for some type of food service business. As long as you find a gap in the market then you should find success. In this article, we will go over several alternatives to opening a restaurant and still get into the food service business.
1 – Food Truck
If you really have your heart set on a restaurant then you should look into opening a food truck. You essentially have a restaurant on wheels so the experience is going to be very similar. If your idea of a food truck is serving greasy hamburgers and hot dogs then think again.
You can serve any type of food including gourmet offerings from a food truck. The only difference is that you won’t be serving in fine China, but to go food containers instead.
There are some major benefits that come along with opening a food truck over a restaurant. The overhead costs are minimal and a fraction of what it costs to open a restaurant. The cost of the truck plus fitting it out to cook your specific cuisine is the biggest expense but it pales in comparison to what it costs to open a restaurant.
Your labor costs are almost nothing since you could potentially work it by yourself. There is no rent or lease to pay and food costs are also much lower since the operation is smaller. Then there is the fact that you go where the need is instead of opening in a fixed location.
There is no need to worry about foot traffic when you can move around to different locations. The possibilities are there to do events and take advantage of holidays or other times when there are large groups.
2 – Catering
Loads of businesses are always on the lookout for a catering company that serves a wide variety of great food that can be delivered to their offices. Since working hours are not so normal these days, many workers are opting to stay in the office and eat. As a perk, bosses will have lunch catered.
This presents a fantastic opportunity to cook the food that you are passionate about and serve people who are looking for it. Once again, the operating costs are a fraction of what it costs to run a restaurant. All you need is a kitchen so the rent is going to cost far less than a traditional restaurant.
You don’t need anything fancy. As long as you have enough space to support the number of cooks that you need plus the storage space for dishware and the other gear you need to bring the food to the location then you are all set.
Food cost percentages are far lower for catering than a traditional restaurant as well. Since you are making a lot of the same things, many ingredients get used in a multitude of dishes. Ina restaurant, if not enough people order a certain food item at a certain point it has to be thrown away.
3 – Fresh Pasta
Specialty food items are also a great way to get creative and fill a need for an area. Fresh pasta is something that many people want to eat but don’t have the time or desire to make it themselves. If you are in an area where there is a population of people with good taste in food then you can open up a fresh pasta takeaway.
The costs are low since you don’t need much space just as it is for the other types of establishments we already covered. In addition, it costs very little to make pasta since flour is cheap. Even filled pastas with gourmet ingredients won’t cost much since you only use a tiny bit.
You can add value by also offering homemade sauces to take away with it, or some other prepared foods that people will want to eat alongside the pasta.
4 – Meal Prep Service
People are so busy these days and often resort to eating fast food since they have no time to eat a proper lunch. Or, they don’t have the time or desire to make lunch to pack for work. Meal prep has become very popular as it saves people time since they prepare a meal once a week, pack it up, and then take it to work to be reheated.
Some people don’t have the time to even do that. Others have no idea what to cook. Then there are people who need a special diet and are restricted so eating out is not an option. Meal prep providers are filling those needs very well so it’s a great business to get into.
This is a food service business that often can be run out of your home kitchen. There may be a need to expand and rent a kitchen at some point, but that would be when your small kitchen is too small to handle the amount of business which is a good problem to have.
Costs are just the cost of food and the food containers. Since you are cooking in bulk, then you are also able to buy in bulk so the cost of food is very low. Using social media you should be able to get quite a few customers quickly.