Restaurant Startup Tips: Make the Most of Your Food Budget

By Janet Campbell

As a new restaurant owner, you already know that rising food prices are a problem. However, there are many ways to save money on operational costs that won’t impact quality. From closing your brick-and-mortar location to saving on your taxes, the following tips can help you keep your finances intact so you’ll have the money available to grow when the time is right.

Make food safety a priority.

One of the best ways to save money is to simply ensure that all the food you serve is fresh. This both reduces food waste and keeps your customers safe. The Always Safe Company offers training for food handlers that covers everything from food safety and the law to allergens and how to ensure that your food is at the right temperature all the time.

Consider a food truck or delivery-based food service.

If you’re currently considering opening up a storefront and money is tight, take a moment to determine if this is actually the right choice. As DoorDash explains, there is a huge demand for convenience and nine out of 10 people look for restaurants online first. This means that even if you have an eat-in establishment, your customers will find you online, and offering delivery is a smart move. When you prefer to be face-to-face with your customers, opening a food truck or kiosk is an affordable option.

Reduce your menu offerings.

Although it might sound counterintuitive, offering less can actually be more valuable to your customers. When you have fewer menu options, you’ll save on labor costs, simplify training, and, importantly, help your customers have a better understanding of your restaurant’s concept. A smaller menu is more efficient and, as TouchBistro explains, makes it easier to order online. This is also an excellent way to further reduce food waste.

Save on taxes.

No matter how large or small your business, you have to pay taxes. But, you may be able to reduce some of your tax liability while protecting your personal assets by establishing your legal business structure. Fortunately, if you’re planning to file as an LLC, Minnesota makes it easy by letting you do this online, skipping the attorney fees. You’ll want to do your research first, however, to find out how this flexible business structure can actually help you grow.

Pay your staff more than the competition.

Whether you file as an LLC or not, your business structure also determines how you pay your staff. And, if you can save money by streamlining, you can afford to pay your staff more than your next best competitor. Remember, employee turnover costs you money, so pay them well and treat them even better.

Participate in food festivals.

No matter where you live, there is a food festival near you just about every season. These events help you reach out to your community to show them exactly what you offer. If your business is already accustomed to making large batches (and following proper safety protocols) then opening a pop-up at a local food fair or vendor event can get you great exposure for a fairly reasonable cost. You can take your easiest-to-prepare and most popular food offerings as a teaser to bring people through your doors or to your online ordering portal.

Look for low-interest lending or grants.

Many small restaurants are launched purely with the owner’s personal savings as capital. But, there are many different ways to find financing, including traditional bank loans, a merchant cash advance, or crowdfunding. No matter what avenue you choose, make sure that you get a fair interest rate and that you do not borrow more than you can pay back.

All small businesses cost money, and your restaurant is no different. But, what is different about opening a food service company is that food is your biggest expense. The above tips can help you offer the best quality and dining experience while still earning a profit.


The Always Food Safe Company was founded in 2016 and offers a range of training services to help restaurant owners and employees reduce foodborne illnesses.

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