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How to Buy a Restaurant

Many people dream of owning a coffee shop, pub, street café or restaurant. Knowing how to buy a restaurant is the first step in making a success of the business. Follow our guidelines to avoid common pitfalls in the purchasing process.

Before you Buy

Decide what type of clientele you want. Do you want students, upmarket and older people, families, youngsters, business executives, fun loving professionals, sports lovers etc?


Decide on the type of menu you want to set. If you prefer Italian food, a Chinese restaurant is probably not a good idea. Even though many South Africans run successful pizza shops, few succeed at Chinese restaurants, simply because they lack understanding of the culture and credibility amongst the community. Likewise, a Pan African restaurant will have more credibility with its clients if the owner is African or at least the chef. You thus need to cater to a market that will find you credible.

Age Group

If your crowd is younger you can expect more visits, but less money spent. If the crowd consists of more discerning diners, you will have higher income per head, but will not be able to seat as many people.


Location is all important when you buy a restaurant. If the rent is too high, you will not be able to make it during slow months. You need a spot with ample parking space, security, and catering to the image of the people living in the area or frequenting the shopping area. The demographics must fit the clientele. You also don't want to stay far from the premises as you will need to be close to your business.


Conduct research in the specific area to find out how many times a week the people dine out, how much they spend and which restaurants they prefer. If you purchase one at the seaside, you will need to keep in mind that during the off peak seasons, you may have little traffic. Budget accordingly.

Decide whether you want a unique business or prefer a franchise.

Make sure the business has all the licenses and enquire about the seating space, safety regulations, health standards, gross and nett profits, as well as employees.

Author: Isebell Gauche