Restaurant Business is very lucrative, especially in places of high traffic like school campuses, block industries, town squares etc. As long as a food canteen exists around, there will be individuals who will prefer to patronize the business rather than cook their own food.
Down memory lane “Mama Put” and local canteens were the major components making up Nigeria’s food-selling sector, until present day restaurants and eateries began to emerge in cities and in rural areas.
Restaurant business is popular because everyone seems to be busy and too occupied to make a dish. For most people cooking is a hurdle, especially to workers or students who live alone and don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen.
“Mama Put” is the general name for small food sheds, local canteens and mini restaurants in open spaces, kiosks or shops where food vendors serve all kinds of staples foods at affordable prices. And has been a reliable and affordable substitute to home cooking for many Nigerians.
“Mama Put” business has will always be shielded from economic downturns or upheavals. Unlike its counterpart that are vulnerable to harsh economic conditions or situations, causing people to cut back on excesses and extravagance, these smaller food vendors still thrive, as people can afford most of its meals even in the toughest of situations – “Man must werk”.
There is no contesting the fact that “Mama Put” has more hold on the buying public which has so far made survival of the type of business easy. Despite the unhealthy cooking environments for some and substandard food items and ingredients for others, many customers don’t seem to mind as long as the meal suits their taste and expectation.
As long as your dishes are delicious and cheap, coupled with a nice environment, the business will definitely flourish even in the mist of an intense competition.
In some Nigerian cities like Lagos, Kano, Onitsha, Port Harcourt etc. numerous food joints operating round-the-clock services are located in different corners with some commonly requested indigenous dishes like “tuwo da mia kuka” “amala and ewedu,” “eba and edikaikong,” “pounded yam and vegetable soup,” and a host of many others. While others serve only staple food, like rice, beans, yam pottage, plantain, etc.
STARTING A FOOD RESTAURANT (OR “MAMA PUT JOINT”)
Capital is one of the crucial factors that must be considered first, although it’s not an impediment at all. It’s great starting small and expand and growing it into a conglomerate with time. Take some time and carry out a market feasibility survey, so that you can draw up a detailed business plan that will help your Food Business to succeed. With a business plan, you will have an idea of the amount needed to start and maintain your food business.
Ø Location and space
When scouting for a location, ensure you get a place as spacious as possible you can afford (for those who wish to start medium size restaurant). As a matter of fact, it will be a good idea if you decide to invest more money on this. Your food restaurant business must be in a good location where there’s a lot of pedestrian traffic, offices, school, etc. These are places where your target market should be located. With a great cook and a good customer service, your business location will be a happening event. Your customers may serve as advertisers.
Ø Decorating and Furnishing your Food Joint
In a country like ours where things are easily assessed by their looks, it is important to know that making your restaurant look presentable is as important as finding a good spacious location. After securing your business location, the next important step is to furnish your shop or shed with everything that’s needed for the smooth operation of the business.
Minimum Equipment/Materials needed to run a small size restaurant:
- Two (2) dozen of plastic chairs
- Eight (8) plastic tables
- Wash hand basins
- Ceramics (or Stainless Steel Plates)
- Napkins etc.
Through your feasibility survey and business plan, you’ll have an idea of everything needed to start this business.
Your location and target market will largely determine your menu. If the business is located in a cosmopolitan city, then your menu should have the following:
- Ogbono Soup
- Egusi Soup
- Oha Soup
- Vegetable Soup
- Pepper Soup
- Rice and Beans
- Jolof /Fried Rice
- Fried Plantain
Pure and bottled water, soft drinks like Coca Cola, Pepsi, 7up, malt etc. should be readily available fridge or iced cooler.
Unarguably, if your food is well cooked and tastes great as well, people will fall in love with it and help you do the publicity. So, whenever you think of hiring a cook to help manage the cooking department of your restaurant, ensure you get a good cook.
The food restaurant business is not a single person type of business venture. Competent and trustworthy hands apart from the cook are needed along with you to:
- Serve your customers,
- Collect money and sort the accounts,
- Wash the plates, cups, spoons etc.,
- Clean up and mop the premises.
Competent hands and good management practice are needed to succeed in the business and there will come a time when you don’t have to be present for the restaurant to be operational.
APPROXIMATE COST FOR START UP OF A FOOD BUSINESS VENTURE
- For simple takeaway food vendor =N=100,000
- For Local restaurant sitting about 12 customers =N=750,000
- For middle class restaurant sitting about 35 customers=N= 1,500,000
TIPS ON RUNNING A ‘SUCCESSFUL’ FOOD RESTAURANT BUSINESS!
Ultimately if the taste of your food is not convincing enough, you are likely to do the eating yourself.
- Never compromise hygiene, food and service quality
Quality and hygiene must be foremost on your agenda. Hygiene is great for your customers and keeps you on the good side of government health and sanitation inspectors.
- Create and build up a loyal customer base
Keep your customers satisfied and always coming back; they will advertise your restaurant i.e. they become the face of your business. Also think of exciting ways to thrill and excite your customers.
Service with a smile cost you nothing; bad manners and poor customer etiquette have a way of repelling clients. It leads to poverty and kills business faster than anything else. Use of abusive and foul language on customers and visitors should be avoided at all cost.
Ø Know your customers (Taste)
Simply put, you need to know the people who frequent your restaurant. It is good to start with the basics like age, gender, ethnicity, etc. But it is also important to delve deeper and go to the heart of the problem, which is taste!
Ø Never ignore the competition
Never ignore the competition; A bit of competition is good. This forces you to provide better food and service, and continually improve.
Ø Maintain a professional relationship with your staff
Your people are your greatest asset. The way they go about their daily tasks and handle your customers will determine the success or failure of your business.
As you contemplate and go into the food business be mindful what it entails like any other business – Hard work, perseverance, and persistence leads to success.