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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    5

    Need advice/help on starting a coffee shop

    Hi,

    I'm in my mid 30s, married and have an one year old boy. I currently work for the city and earn a decent salary in NYC. I always wanted to start a business and I enjoy drinking coffee on a daily basis. I want to put the two together and open a small coffee shop. I would like to keep things small and simple while I learn the ropes. I'm thinking of finding a small location and hiring one employee to keep the cost (rent and wages) down. I'm new to the business and in need of guidance/advice with everything. I would love to be able to talk to someone with experience either by phone or meeting in person about the ins and outs of this business. If you or know anyone who may be able to help me, please reply below.

    Thank you very much!
    Danny

  2. #2
    Banned
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    Apr 2014
    Location
    Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
    Posts
    3,340
    Quote Originally Posted by iamdannywu View Post
    Hi,

    I'm in my mid 30s, married and have an one year old boy. I currently work for the city and earn a decent salary in NYC. I always wanted to start a business and I enjoy drinking coffee on a daily basis. I want to put the two together and open a small coffee shop. I would like to keep things small and simple while I learn the ropes. I'm thinking of finding a small location and hiring one employee to keep the cost (rent and wages) down. I'm new to the business and in need of guidance/advice with everything. I would love to be able to talk to someone with experience either by phone or meeting in person about the ins and outs of this business. If you or know anyone who may be able to help me, please reply below.

    Thank you very much!
    Danny
    我想欢迎来到我们的论坛,吴先生 I hope that I got your last name right! anyway, nice intro for the first posting and I really hope that you will be successful in your business. I am in Green Coffee Exportation business from Guatemala side, so unfortunately, I won't be able to advise you some constructive information, but I hope that someone here will be able to help you.

    Again, best of luck and wish you well.
    Alex from Ensoluna S.A.

  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by ensoluna View Post
    我想欢迎来到我们的论坛,吴先生 I hope that I got your last name right! anyway, nice intro for the first posting and I really hope that you will be successful in your business. I am in Green Coffee Exportation business from Guatemala side, so unfortunately, I won't be able to advise you some constructive information, but I hope that someone here will be able to help you.

    Again, best of luck and wish you well.
    Alex from Ensoluna S.A.
    Thank you very much for your reply and welcoming message in Chinese! I greatly appreciate the support you're expressing. Thank you!

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    659
    Start with your local departments such as health,zoning and so forth. Health departments vary and their demands can prove costly. Low rent in NYC? Is there such a place? How many square feet do you need? Get a good lease and have a lawyer review it. What is your budget going to be? How much free cash s available. Do not buy used equipment unless it is in brand new condition. Try to get free set up time with the landlord. Electricians and plumbers can also be expensive. Consider the build out costs and does the city allow you to do the work yourself. Find a good roaster to purchase fresh beans from. Chris's coffee in Albany NY has some great prices on equipment and a great assortment of equipment at reasonable prices. Seattle Coffee gear has videos on you tube demonstrating equipment. From the time you sign the lease to grand opening it could be a couple of months to 6 plus months.
    Good luck
    Charlie
    If you are afraid of failure or losing money, quit while you are ahead

  5. #5
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Boca Raton
    Posts
    3,345
    Welcome Danny! I would suggest to either get a part or full time job in a coffee shop. I know it looks pretty simple but its not. I have been in coffee since '89 and there is a lot to learn...I am still learning. If you don't go that route I would suggest hiring a consultant. If you have any specific questions hit me up topherroaster@gmail.com . It is a great business to be in...Good luck!
    "Wine is for aging, not coffee."
    Ken Hutchinson, Starsky and Hutch

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by chast View Post
    Start with your local departments such as health,zoning and so forth. Health departments vary and their demands can prove costly. Low rent in NYC? Is there such a place? How many square feet do you need? Get a good lease and have a lawyer review it. What is your budget going to be? How much free cash s available. Do not buy used equipment unless it is in brand new condition. Try to get free set up time with the landlord. Electricians and plumbers can also be expensive. Consider the build out costs and does the city allow you to do the work yourself. Find a good roaster to purchase fresh beans from. Chris's coffee in Albany NY has some great prices on equipment and a great assortment of equipment at reasonable prices. Seattle Coffee gear has videos on you tube demonstrating equipment. From the time you sign the lease to grand opening it could be a couple of months to 6 plus months.
    Good luck
    Thanks Chast for your advice!
    I didn't realize heath and inspections can be so difficult until you mentioned it. Does it usually take 2 months for permits before I can start renovations? How can i minimize the amount of rent needed during those months? Do people negotiate to start charging rent after permits are received or after renovations?
    I'm currently looking at two properties, one is 225 sq feet, and the other is 500 sq ft ground level + 300 sq ft basement. I feel like the smaller one is more manageable but they are asking for a very high rent (based on sq footage).
    How many cups of coffee per day does a new coffee business usually sell during the first few months and also when it's established?
    My budget is around $100k from personal savings.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by topher View Post
    Welcome Danny! I would suggest to either get a part or full time job in a coffee shop. I know it looks pretty simple but its not. I have been in coffee since '89 and there is a lot to learn...I am still learning. If you don't go that route I would suggest hiring a consultant. If you have any specific questions hit me up . It is a great business to be in...Good luck!
    Thanks Topher for your suggestion! I emailed you at the email listed.

    -Danny

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Salt Lake City
    Posts
    1,044
    Danny,

    It's all about preparation. Location, $$, lease negotiation, coffee and or espresso expertise, business.. all those things are preparation. Don't fall in love with a particular space. It can't love you back.

    Typically you have 60 to 90 days for build out that you would negotiate, and that's AFTER the landlord does whatever they are going to do. Pulling permits depends on in you need a general contractor to do it or if you can do it yourself. Different municipalities probably have different zoning and construction ordinances. As chast noted - a lot of city and local officials to talk to.

    There's ways to lay out the space for efficiency -- and decide if (with a small space) do you want to perhaps do ONLY espresso drinks or ONLY coffee --- something to think about.
    And if you need any no b.s. direction, and you want to create something world class, shoot me a message.

    加油 !

    John
    John Piquet
    caffe d'bolla
    Salt Lake City, UT
    caffedbolla.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    659
    Do not commit to a lease agreement until you have discussed the location with all the city boards if the landlord requires a lease to hold the propert then have a lawyer add a clause saying something to effect that all permits are allowed. I personally would not place any large amount of money in the hands of a landlord as a binder. 500.00 is the norm here. Remember a lease is a contract and if you fail to open he will make you pay the monthly bill until he finds a new renter. If you have a100k set aside you will be safe but try to save half. Negotiate with contractors. NY is hell bent on using Union Workers for all projects so be careful because you can get taken. Try to find a friend who has used someone and go from there. Once again talk to the city gods and see what they require. Show them a floor plan and what your plans are starting with the health dept. they will need to know the address of the location you are thinking about to determine what they require and if zoning will permit it
    Charlie
    If you are afraid of failure or losing money, quit while you are ahead

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Birmingham, AL USA
    Posts
    11
    I would pay double attention to the location and how popular the place may be to potential clients. A deserted cafe will always make my heart sink ( Before renting the room - goes around and ask the local as much as possble. Yeah, there could be a cafe in this place earlier - contact the previous owner and talk to him as well.

 

 
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