If you are thinking about getting started in the restaurant business, you might think you will need to amass a fortune, to obtain a big business loan, or to use all of your savings to be able to open your own restaurant.
The truth is that starting small is a good idea, and that opening a small restaurant doesn’t have to be that expensive. All you need is a great concept, and the motivation and drive to make your restaurant dreams come true.
Check out these eight creative small restaurant ideas that can be achieved on a budget:
Idea #1: Take advantage of this tiny, but great location
You know of a space that would be perfect to open a restaurant, if only it wasn’t so tiny? Keep in mind that sometimes, the location of a restaurant is way more important than its size. Plus, small restaurants have a certain charm that big ones can’t have.
If you think this tiny commercial space would be ideal for a restaurant, you should consider renting it. As long as you have enough space for your food prep equipment, and enough space to seat a few customers, your small restaurant can thrive.
Idea #2: Consider opening a pop-up restaurant
Pop-up restaurants are one of the most popular small restaurant ideas, especially in big cities. But what is a pop-up restaurant? It’s a small restaurant that appears in an unusual location for a short period of time, before disappearing and reappearing somewhere else.
To be able to offer this fun and unique experience, all you need is some portable restaurant equipment, and the money and permits required to rent and use different locations for your pop-up restaurant.
Idea #3: Consider opening a rooftop bar
A rooftop bar is another idea that can attract hungry and thirsty guests who are looking for a unique experience. If it’s possible for you to rent a rooftop in your city, and if you have a good concept, you could run a very successful small restaurant.
A rooftop bar or restaurant can be similar to a pop-up restaurant, but in a permanent form.
Idea #4: Pay attention to the food truck trend
Have you ever seen a food truck in your city? These small, mobile restaurants have a low upfront cost, they are easy to operate and to maintain, and they don’t require a lot of employees. Plus, they are trending, and they can join different events where hungry people will be looking for food.
If you have never seen a food truck around your city, it doesn’t mean the local market is not right for this type of small restaurant. It could simply mean that no one had the idea to start one yet, and you could be the first to do it!
Of course, if you don’t feel adventurous enough to start a food truck or a pop-up restaurant, you can simply open a small restaurant that will attract customers with the quality of its menu, and slowly become a staple in its community.
But when you have found the right concept for your small restaurant, how can you make it even better? And how can you slowly prepare its future growth, if you know you will want to expand your operations eventually?
These simple ideas could help you:
Idea #5: Consider offering outdoor seating
If your restaurant is too small to fit more than 10 seats, why not offer outdoor seating? If you have the right type of outdoor space to do it, this option is sure to attract many customers who enjoy dining outside during the summer.
To still be able to offer outside seating when the warm summer days are over, you should consider investing in outdoor space heaters.
Idea #6: Create a new ambiance with colours, furniture and lighting
Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint, new chairs and tables, and a different type of lighting can make all the difference in a small restaurant.
If you feel like your small dining room looks boring, work with these elements to transform its ambiance to make it unique, relaxing, fancy, fun, casual, or mysterious. Your customers are sure to notice the change!
Idea #7: Use social media for free publicity
The right type of advertising will bring more customers to your small restaurant. It’s possible to launch effective marketing campaigns on a small budget. But it’s also possible to create free publicity by using social media.
A social media page is like a free website where you can publish your menu, share photos of your delicious dishes, interact with your customers, and talk about special promotions or events.
Idea #8: Create a fun loyalty program to reward your customers
You don’t need to operate a large restaurant chain to be able to offer a loyalty program to your customers. Nowadays, any small business owner can print out punch cards. They are a simple, and very affordable way to reward your customers for their loyalty.
It’s also easy to print out gift certificates, which your loyal customers can gift to their friends and family.
Remember that any creative idea you have to start or improve your small restaurant can come true, as long as you take a moment to figure out how you can make it work.