How to Run a Frugal, Interesting, and Successful Cafe

How to create an amazing little restaurant with heart — and make ten times the income! Tricks that will make your cafe a hip, trendy hang-out!

The idea is to have multiple things happening that excite. Many of them represent extra earnings and involve little cash extras for you, the owner. Some are just gifts for your guests but they make your place special as they’re rarely given by the snooty, uptown cafes.

1.) A TASTING MENU. Small price, sample serving sizes, they get appetizer, entree and dessert. A Tasting menu price would be $4.00 to $6.00 for all three –appetizer, entree and dessert, and throw in a small salad. This encourages lower income folk to come in droves on slow nights! Find your slow nights. Then make Tasting Menu on those nights only!

2.) COMMUNAL TABLE for single guests without reservations. They do this one in Brasseries all over France. If the grumpy French can tolerate it, Americans can! Or are French more xenophobic than US?

3.) NO DARN CORKAGE FEES! Let your guests can bring their own wine. Give them Styrofoam or Paper cups however as goblet/glass breakage and washing crystal would be too costly for this freebie privilege.

4.) ONLINE RECIPES for all entrees. Plus cooking lessons by email so they can duplicate your entrees. The only way to fight their not coming back once they can make it for a buck at their house, is to change entrees a whole lot. So your cafe becomes a cooking school. It’s a good thing. :>)

5.) Have you Looked in Our Bakery? Offer fine pastries, freshly baked breads, pies, cakes and condiments that are not only the staples of the house but which can be BOUGHT by the pound. Like Homemade cheese cakes, pastries, the JAMs that you serve with the breakfast menu, available for clients. To do that you need unusual flavors. Best way to zap jam is add lemon rind and juice to all the fruits. Really makes them interesting! Or UGLI FRUIT MARMELADE, (Cocktail grapefruit a cross between pummelo/tangarine ) GUAVAS are the most extraordinary fruit, easy to grow. Find a source and get a ricer to get the seeds out. How about Pear chutney served with all your curries like the IVY does in L.A, coriander basil pesto, MULBERRY MARMALADE (add plenty of citrus zest and lemon juice to give it the acidity mulberries lack!). Ditto with raspberries, each 12 oz of fruit has one lemon and all its rind, done in marmalade like strips, but none of the white part of skin! And for vanilla ice cream the fab, unique Chocolate fudge sauce. Sell all your condiments so people have to come in to load up! And stay for dinner!

6.) A seriously THICK Theme restaurant gimmick. For a family restaurant, a massively ornate DECOR that will enchant the children. Create a fairytale world with murals, like Lord of the Rings all around the booths. Or do a FOREST theme, a friendly FROG character with a real name that’s cute, like FARLEY THE FROG, and he’s everywhere, on the menu, painted on the walls with rabbit companions; give away Frog games, or little toy Rabbits. For adults, something lush and romantic like PANGEA, or The Lost Continent of Mu or ATLANTIS.. something exotic with Martin Denny type music. (50’s, with birds tweeting in BG) Foods carry out the theme: Pangea has Pacific Island foods, seafood….. Mexican and Indonesian food. The theme is carried out in murals, lighting. Also via the music and the waiter’s costumes. Sarongs! Leis! Ladies get a gardenia corsage. These perks give clients the REAL URGE to come eat at your place.

7.) Boutique and or Gallery. If you have space, find twenty local artisans, and have them share the rent for this ‘space’ and fill it with stuff. Windwhackers, Sweaters, Pillows, paintings, moccasins.You get 40% off the top. Or if you’re an artist and have time, it can be your stuff. Paintings can hang in the dining rooms ditto decor pieces.

8.) Singles night. You do this in only one of your several rooms, or in the patio not the whole cafe, as you can’t lock out regulars. Name tags indicate the guest has paid to be in the singles party. One night a month, it’s a 10$ fee for the singles party and the food is included. (The bar is not free so you make extra there.) The guests get formal introductions made by the singles hostess, so you need an ‘hostess’ to move around, socialize, and encourage introductions and to make and run a phone tree to remind those who left their fone, fax or email in the guest book, that there’s a new party.

9) Juke Box. You need a great selection of music stacked inside it. Enya, Jai Utal, New Age beautiful spiritual songs and some good old fashioned romantic dance music. These Juke boxes make you an extra income in silver quarters! They provide music when there are party groups there, dancing. A little bit of country but no heavy metal need apply!

9.) FARM FRESH, MULTIPLE YUMMIES- Get farmers in rural areas to make wine, grow tilapia fish, sell you freshly made olives, open range eggs, raw honey, organic vegies. Eggplants by the dozen. Once guests know you have produce available, folks will say ‘what vegies you got now?’ and you say ‘select it, we’ll cook it,’ that kind of thing. They can buy a few pounds raw and carry organic produce home, too. End of the night, if you’re loaded with string beans, you can offer a ‘deal’ .89c a lb beans at .49c. Bet you sell out!

A user friendly cafe will endear itself to the community, become a meeting place for locals and last beyond the usual few years lifespan of a cafe that can only intrigue the mind, tickle the fancy for a while…as it is basically heartless.