Living Vegan

No Vegan Restaurants Nearby? Start Your Own!

Cropped image of assorted salads in a buffet

Sticking to a vegan diet isn’t hard. The motivations for health and ethics are strong enough to keep going without any trouble. Eating out can sometimes be tricky. Larger cities may have a fair number options, but smaller towns can be more challenging. If you’ve ever wondered about filling that gap in your local market and how to start a vegan restaurant, and whether it’s right for you, read on!

If you’ve encountered this situation too often, maybe the time has come to stop looking for a solution and instead to become the solution. When you have that mix of entrepreneurial ambition and a commitment to vegan eating, you just might be the person to open a vegan restaurant.

It may not be as hard as it sounds. You’ll need to plan your strategy very carefully and make good choices along the way. Think about some of these key areas as you get started:

Training Personnel

Vegan restaurants feature a very different menu from non-vegan ones, with the most obvious feature being the heavier presence of uncooked vegetables on the menu. While all food preparation requires proper training for workers, raw foods are more susceptible to contamination and require extra training and vigilance.

That’s where outside resources come in. Before their first day on the job, your personnel should complete quality training like that available at State Food Safety. They’ll understand proper preparation, storage, and cleaning techniques to ensure that the risk of making someone sick is as close to zero as possible.

Of course, they’ll need training on veganism in general. After all, you may not be able to hire a 100%-vegan staff, so you’ll need to take time to orient your workers to both the reasons people go vegan and the specific requirements of a vegan diet.

Planning The Menu

The most important thing about a vegan dish is not that it’s vegan. It’s really not. Yes, a vegan restaurant will draw customers on that trait alone, but the most important thing is that people like it. They will not come back to your vegan restaurant if the food isn’t good. It’s just that simple.

So do your homework. If you don’t have a strong culinary background yourself, you can either build one by going to school, or you can just hire someone who already has. Obviously the latter is faster and cheaper, because the culinary diploma alone isn’t enough. You also need experience, so it’s best to find someone who has both.

Work with your chef to build a great vegan menu from the ground up. Make sure you agree on your types of cuisine; will you lean heavily on entrees or offer salads and sandwiches? Find vendors for great inputs to make your great menu, and you will put a great item on the customer’s table every single time.

Get Financed

Of course, before most of this can take place, you need to have financing in place. There will be no shortage of expenses in your new enterprise, and you need help to cover them.

Our first two points actually address a lot of the things that you’ll need to consider before you ask for a loan. Your financial partner(s) will want to know that you have a solid plan in place, and that you have already thought about things like food safety and the menu.

From there, you’ll want to emphasize the power of your niche. Point out that you are starting the restaurant because there are no competitors. Then talk about the growth of veganism and how you expect the market to get bigger as time goes on, growing your business and giving them a return on their investment.

Opening a restaurant is a complex challenge, but the kind of personality that gravitates toward veganism is the same kind that can meet the challenges of entrepreneurism. Take advantage of an untapped market and your own untapped potential, and you just might find a great way to make a living and a life.

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