Setting up a Cafeteria

Brazilian cafeterias are very popular and offer a wide range of products, such as: hot and cold snacks, cakes, savory (cushions, cheese bread, rissoles, ties), sweets (cakes, brigades, fruit salad), potatoes (soft drinks, juices, coffees, chocolates and, in some cases, alcoholic beverages) and industrialized packaged products, such as bullets, chocolates and picolics. Some establishments also prepare dishes, such as à la minute and similar.

Advantages and disadvantages of opening a cafeteria

Food is the second largest average expenditure of the Brazilian, losing only for housing. Therefore, everything that this branch implies has great potential in the country. But, more than that, the change in the habits related to the meals is also one of the advantageous scenarios to set up a cafeteria.

That’s because we live a day-to-day life that demands quick solutions. Add to that the increased purchasing power, the distance between home and work and the traffic congestion, and the cafeterias become even more attractive.

Because they offer meals in a short time and at any time of day. This makes our routine easier, as we don’t need to adapt to working hours, much less spend a lot of time preparing food or standing in rows at restaurants. And even when we have little time to sit down and eat, cafeterias provide fast food and/or portable meals.

Another advantage of the cafeteria is that there is no need to define a specific target audience, as it is a popular commercial establishment, catering to people of all ages, geographic regions and social classes.

The disadvantage of setting up a cafeteria is the broad and diversified competition. Virtually all establishments that offer fast food, regardless of size or menu, are potential competitors.

This means that both the little bar on the corner and the fast food giant are dividing the public with you. And there in the middle we have bakeries, restaurants, shopping mall food court, convenience stores, among several other options. The challenge will be to offer a differential that makes your consumer come to you instead of the other spaces.

Market Challenge

Following the previous reasoning, the challenge of the market is precisely to create a differential that adds value to your space or to your brand, to guarantee the loyalty of your client.

Your differential can be a thematic decoration and menu, a menu with healthy and functional dishes, the offer of dishes that meet food restrictions and special diets (such as gluten and lactose intolerance), different foods, with unusual formats and flavors, as well as additional services such as wi-fi signal, newspaper for reading, soccer games on the screen and availability for events.

Another point that adds value to your establishment is a sustainable positioning. Today’s consumer values environmental issues and their purchase decision can also be linked to social and environmental responsibility actions. Disclose the actions in that sense that you take in your company, to reach a competitive differential in front of the other competitors.

And, of course, don’t forget that, even though it is not theoretically a differential, what can guarantee the loyalty of your clientele will always be, without a doubt, the quality of the products and the service.

Rapidity, courtesy, attention to the order, besides well elaborated products, with quality raw material and good presentation will always be the highest points of your cafeteria.

Estimated initial capital

Certainly your initial investment is linked to the type of cafeteria you want to have. What will be the size of the establishment, how many people will be involved, what variety of dishes will be available, will a space be built or rented, among many other factors.

How to open a coffee shop (step by step)?


The location of your cafeteria should observe the flow of people as well as the volume of competition in the region. Then, based on the research, evaluate the potential public of the region and check if it combines with the business model you want to open.

Also analyze if the available space has parking for vehicles, both for customers and for loading and unloading of goods. In addition, examine the capacity of the property, possibility of expansion and availability of essential services, such as electricity, sanitation, telephony and internet.

Remember that the location is one of the determining issues for the success of your operation. Invest time in research before making a decision.


The total structure of your cafeteria will depend on the number of people you want to serve daily and the variety of goods offered in the establishment. Taking as a base an area of 50 m², you will need to divide the environment in production, stock and attention.

The production, which will be the kitchen, needs to be a clean, airy area with good light. You can choose to produce all your goods, or acquire part of the products from third parties and resell them.

The structure of the kitchen should be as optimized as possible, but also responds to a series of regulations and specific health laws, which you should be informed about before starting your business.

The same goes for the stock, observe all the rules and legislation before anything else. You will need adequate equipment for the storage of perishable goods, such as meat and vegetables, that are too refrigerated and frozen. The environment should be organized, dry and clean, and a system of control of inputs and outputs is recommended.

The attention generally presents balconies, tables and chairs, in addition to showcases and the box. This space should also have bathrooms available to the public.


The machinery and furniture needed in your cafeteria will also vary depending on the size and range of products. In general, you will need refrigerators, stoves and ovens, stoves, irons, fryers, microwaves, as well as utensils such as processors, blenders, coffee makers and sandwiches.

As for furniture, a service counter is essential, preferably with displays, and you may also need showcases, tables and chairs, in addition to the box, with a computer and peripherals.

Main suppliers

The suppliers of a cafeteria are wide and varied, to account for the amount of goods that are marketed in the establishment. You will need to get in touch with producers of perishable goods, such as vegetables, meat, flour, dairy products, etc.; distributors of industrialized goods, such as bullets, chocolates and soft drinks; disposable companies, as well as suppliers of furniture and equipment, as mentioned above.

When choosing them, try to give priority to local manufacturers, producers and traders, especially regarding the raw material of their products. Also be careful to choose companies with social and environmental policies allied with yours.

Finally, do not limit yourself to one supplier. Even if you have a favorite, keep in touch with others, because you may need them in an emergency.

And, since the quality of your product and care will be paramount to your target audience choosing you, don’t choose a provider just because of the price. Evaluate the quality of the product, agility in delivery, payment terms and attention to deadlines.