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Opening a sandwich bar/Coffee bar

(190 Posts)
OctoberMoon Wed 07-Jan-15 21:50:09

I'm aware this is not an AIBU, but i've posted on two other more relevant sections on the board and there's no traffic!

In the very, very early planning stage of hoping to eventually open a sandwich/coffee bar. After some information and advice if anyone here either runs one, works in one or knows a bit about it?

I have about 15k available to start me off (This is not a loan and won't need paying back to anyone) My idea is slightly different than a standard sandwich/coffee place but don't want to divulge too much info incase i'm outed.

In terms of staff, i'd be there running it as much as childcare would allow. I have 2 family members who are already in catering (and have the relevant food hygiene certificates required) who are hoping to get on board and work alongside me.

The questions I want to know the answers to will probably make me come across as extremely naive and lazy! I'm aware I could find the answers to these questions myself through market research etc, and I will, but i'm hoping those in the know may help me out a little? As I say, I am in the very early planning stages. The questions I want to know the answer to are -

Could my staff be self employed, responsible for their own tax and NI? Or do I need to be their employer?

I'm aware that location is the deciding factor as to whether this fails or succeeds. I'm thinking being close to other businesses/schools would be my best bet? Any tips of what I should look for in terms of location?

I want to start pricing equipment, is there a wholesale place that anyone could recommend? What's the best way to source produce in bulk?

Where can I find out more about what regulations I need to follow to open one? And more info on what qualifications or courses are needed in order to be able to safely work with food?

Any other info you can provide or any hints/tips would be greatly appreciated.

Oh and i'll have to try and make it AIBU, so am I being unreasonable and bloody stupid to think that this could work and make me a fairly decent living?

Pensionerpeep Wed 07-Jan-15 21:56:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hannahwex Wed 07-Jan-15 22:00:01

I can't see anybody wanting to work self employed in a sandwich shop... Make sure you have a good location

Good lucksmile

OctoberMoon Wed 07-Jan-15 22:03:21

The self employed thing was simply because I wasn't aware if it would be a huge load of hassle being an employer as such, responsible for their tax etc. Not a problem if I have to be an employer, will have to look into it.

WhereYouLeftIt Wed 07-Jan-15 22:03:35

"Could my staff be self employed, responsible for their own tax and NI? Or do I need to be their employer?"

MoreBeta Wed 07-Jan-15 22:04:55

HMRC will not allow you to have you staff self employed like you propose.

Look at your town and count how many of these type of establishments have opened and closed in recent years. There have been at least 20 in our not very large town in the last two years.

Cafes are the graveyard of small business operators. You will be up against the very large coffee chain operators who cherry pick the best sites. If they haven't picked the site you are after then there is a reason - its not good site. Landlords would prefer to rent to a large chain.

ghostyslovesheep Wed 07-Jan-15 22:05:13

you'd be better off near a shopping area - other wise you are only looking at people popping in for take away on their way to work/school and on the way home plus some lunch trade

shoppers pop in all day for coffee and cake

also don't go to 'different' you will limit your trade - my friend has run a moderately successful cafe for years - it's in a precinct and does egg and chip and tea etc

people like what they know

TestingTestingWonTooFree Wed 07-Jan-15 22:06:09

How would they be self employed exactly? On a per sandwich commission?

Why don't you look into whether your local council/bank etc runs any courses about the basics of starting up and running a business?

Coconutty Wed 07-Jan-15 22:08:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

springlamb Wed 07-Jan-15 22:14:01

My BIL and his wife had the same bright idea 8 years ago.
They still have over a decade of paying back debt to go, it'll be 3 years before they're allowed a credit card, he's back working in the hotel trade, she's working in a shop.
The chains'll get you every time.

expatinscotland Wed 07-Jan-15 22:18:24

This is a recipe for losing £15k quickly. See a financial advisor and put your money to better use.

usualsuspect333 Wed 07-Jan-15 22:19:17

It''s difficult to compete with the big chains. You would need relevant health and hygiene certificate and you will have to register with the local environmental health team.

Your biggest loss will be waste as there are lots of rules regarding how long you can keep food etc.

For all day trade you will need to be near a shopping center.

Chippednailvarnish Wed 07-Jan-15 22:19:34

I'm going to give you some free financial advice OP (I'm an accountant).

Firstly never open a business in an industry that you haven't worked in before.

Secondly calculate how much you want to take home per year net. Then add on tax, rent, business rates, wages, insurances, utilities, stock (milk, coffee, food, etc), cleaning costs, etc. Divide that number by the number of hours you plan to have your cafe open a year and that's roughly how much you need to sell every shop hour...

Now have a think about what will happen if you are ill or you want a holiday or your staff let you down. I doubt you could break even...

Fadingmemory Wed 07-Jan-15 22:20:27

Google 'Should I hire employees or self-employed staff?' which is on a site called Real Business (sorry, can't link). You may take on staff and require them to be self-employed but apparently if there is an issue at a later date HMRC may decide that they are in fact employees, letting you in for all sorts of problems.

You may have competition like Greggs - an analyst had the following to say about why that company is so successful (yes, it's a large chain offering basic, junky food but you may be able to adapt ideas)

"There are several reasons why Greggs has done so well," says Malcolm Pinkerton, senior analyst with retail research company Verdict. "They have shifted to fresh food and their prices are low. They focus heavily on lunchtime 'meal deals' [a sandwich, drink and packet of crisps for £2.99, 2m of which have been sold in the first half of the year], and getting morning trade. Promoting freshly baked bread and handmade sandwiches means their quality perception is on the rise." It attracts a wide range of people, "from professionals on a budget who might be switching down from Pret a Manger or EAT", says Pinkerton, to manual workers getting a morning "mansnack" – as steak bakes and its like are known – to older people and young families. Pinkerton says that among its core customer base, "people feel affection for the brand. Their sausage rolls are famous, for example."

You need to be in an area with lots of businesses, where perhaps a lot of construction is going on (hungry builders!), secondary schools where older pupils go out to buy their lunch or near large public-sector buildings (council offices, civil service etc).

Good luck!

RonaldMcFartNuggets Wed 07-Jan-15 22:28:50

I own and run a coffee shop.

Don't do it.

<not helpful>

rocket74 Wed 07-Jan-15 22:41:00

I think 15k is a very small amount of of money! I work closely with small operators quite often and a half decent coffee machine can set you back 3k at least. Those small coffee outlets you see at train stations etc still cost the operator at least 80k to set up. Don't underestimate the interior design either. Decent seating and tables and consideration for the overall vibe is crucial. You can get away with a very pared down bare wood and coffee sack look but it still needs to be executed well. If you have more than 25 seats you also have to install a disabled wc. I think. Branding design and signage and advertising etc. all cos money .

gobbynorthernbird Wed 07-Jan-15 22:45:27

I'd recommend you buy your equipment, fittings, etc second hand. There are bankrupcy sales/auctions of that sort of catering equipment all the time. Funnily enough.

IamTitanium Wed 07-Jan-15 22:46:52

tool to see if staff are employed or self employed- but 99.99% you would be their employer, they would not be able to pick and choose their hours, they could not send someone else to do their work, they would not be risking anything financially

info about £2000 employment allowence against employer NI

I'm aware that location is the deciding factor as to whether this fails or succeeds. I'm thinking being close to other businesses/schools would be my best bet?
Depends on so much they are good starts, without knowing more about business and who you target as your customers unable to answer, look in your area to see why and where similar businesses have failed. LOTS of coffee/sandwich shops fail.

Nesbits is a wholesale company, do know much about them though.

Oh and i'll have to try and make it AIBU, so am I being unreasonable and bloody stupid to think that this could work and make me a fairly decent living?
This might sound blunt, but I do not mean it in a nasty way, it worries me you have done no research into any of the above questions you have, you are right they all are easily searchable and to get the info on, if you were queering parts of employee law for e.g. that's understandable- but to not look into any of it I find quite concerning.
Best wishes though!

Yuleloglatte Wed 07-Jan-15 22:48:37

I live in South Manchester and independent coffee shops do very well here - they are all packed and expanding with new ones regularly opening. The successful ones are open in the evenings too - they have board games nights, italian lessons, themed evenings etc. one of our local ones runs a regular bake off, with the winner supplying cakes to the cafe for the next few months. I think there can be a market, but it has to be in the right location, and I would recommend getting a job in one as a first step.

My teens have been employed in most of the local cafés and it's all very casual and cash in hand unless it's a chain.

Rockchick1984 Wed 07-Jan-15 22:51:20

I live in a fairly large town that was regenerated 8 years ago with a new shopping centre, lots of new shops, cafes and bars.

Of all the cafes that opened, there's only one left now that isn't a coffee shop chain, and it's not designed to compete with them (ice cream and milkshakes rather than coffee and cake). Aside from that it's Greggs, McDonald's, or Starbucks type places.

IamTitanium Wed 07-Jan-15 22:53:36

Oh and just to add, I do have a business but not in catering, a close family member who is in the catering business said people vastly underestimate re fit costs and costs of catering specific equipment (e.g. oven/fridges and freezers), also don't tend to understand that you have at any point £1000's of pounds tied up in stock which tends to cause cash flow problems.

Blondie1984 Wed 07-Jan-15 22:56:01

Let's take a step back - why a sandwich bar?

OctoberMoon Wed 07-Jan-15 22:56:57

Very kind of you to take the time to reply, i'm taking everything on board.

Ronald Come on, you have to tell me why!

rightguard Wed 07-Jan-15 23:00:46

I had a similar business. it nearly bankrupted me. my advice would be not to do it.

small businesses can't compete with Costa, or waitrose giving away free coffee, plus business rates will pretty much be 50% of your rent.

usualsuspect333 Wed 07-Jan-15 23:03:16

Good fridges,freezers and chiller cabinets will cost loads.And yes a decent coffee machine will cost at least a couple of grand although you can lease them.

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