Should You Expand Your Cafe to Include Hot Lunches?

Posted on May 15, 2018 by Ash Bennett

One of the questions that Australian cafe owners always ask is whether they should expand their cafe business to include meals. Adding on menu items can be a risky thing when you are not sure whether it will be a success or not with your cafe.


If you are seeing a profit from your investment and watching your money improve your business, then expansion may be worth it. When deciding whether to include expanding on your cafe to include lunches, you should think about the following factors:

  1. Do you think your coffee customers would like lunch added to your menu? Some people come to a cafe or coffee shop for coffee only. They just want a place to sit down and visit with friends or talk about the day. They are small-menu purchasers who don’t come in for a big meal. Many people consider their cafe of choice a special place that is removed from the world. If you try to expand and include lunches too, it changes the dynamics of the crowd. You will tend to get more kids and families, as well as busy business people who come in to grab a quick snack before returning to work. You should think about whether you are ready to handle the busy atmosphere of the hungry lunch crowd before investing hundreds or thousands of dollars in expanding your business to be a lunch spot as well as a coffee shop.
  2. Can you afford the change?  If you are thinking about including hot lunches to your coffee menu, you will want to think about whether you can afford the change. You will have to decide on lunch menu items first. Will you serve sandwiches and other types of lunch foods? Are you going to serve sandwiches only or add other items like potato chips, pickles, and soft drinks? Once you open the door to include lunch items, it’s hard to know where to draw the line.
  3. Do you have the space to expand? When you think about it, it takes limited space to start a cafe or coffee shop. You only need a few hundred square feet of space to set up a cappuccino maker, a cash register, and a few cafe tables and chairs. But adding lunch requires a space to make the lunch items, including a place to make sandwiches, a soft drink maker, tea maker, and anything else you want to add to your location.
  4. What type of products will you need? Think about your supplies and consider what types of products you will need to add lunch to your menu. What about paper products and supplies, take-out containers, and soft drink cups? Check with your paper supplier and see if they offer these items, and shop around to compare costs.

After you consider all of these issues, work out a practical plan to implement it that will keep your costs down while increasing your potential for profit. Look at what other cafes in Australia are doing and how they have expanded their business. Menu expansion is not always about adding menu items. Sometimes it is just about doing what you do better. Consider all of the options before investing your hard-earned money in expansions.


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