church cafe question


New member
May 11, 2005
dayton Ohio
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I may not be in the right place, but after looking at several posts, I thought maybe someone could send me to a place to get some information. I am going to be running a coffee shop/cafe in my church as soon as the building gets finished. Where could I get information about tax laws, staffing issues and menus ideas? I realize those topics are not related, but that is where I am at right now in the planning stage.
Thanks for any information anyone could sned my way.
First, I am wondering if you will be pocketing the profits for yourself or will they be going to the church? That could make a difference in the tax and staffing laws if the church will be getting the profits.

If not, then I would say to start with what you need to have for the food license/permit and registering the cafe's name.

Secondly, how much food other than coffee and pre-fab drinks (like Jones sodas, etc) will you be serving? One school of thought I have come across is to keep your prep to nil. If you only start with coffee and some grab 'n' go wrapped goods, you should only need yourself and one other person. One for the coffee making and another for the cashier position. The more prep and cooking you intend on doing, the more people you will need.

Will you be roasting your own beans or buying? If roasting, I think there might be permits required and special plans will have to be made to modify the space but a pro could do better by chiming in here. :D

Did I answer everything? If not, let me know and I'll work the grey matter some more ;)
Interesting tax question putting up a for profit in a not-for-profit. I'm not a tax attorney, but my wife is. Unfortunately, she's not telling me crap unless there is a billable hour. We just don't talk about work. Good thing - tax makes my head hurt.

But I wonder whether the tax rules would change if there were a drive up window. Drive up confessional at the First Window, pick up your host and a cup of joe at Second window. If the parisioner is not in the building, does it count? Or if there is a cart that is outside the church getting drinks for people after the service.... maybe coffee before the service if there is going to be one of those painfully boring homilies.
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It will definitely not be a drive up. There will be seating for 175. The plans are for breakfast and lunch to be served. Not a huge menu, but enough for the need of at least 2 maybe 3 staff members. Right now we serve breakfast and we have baked goods from a local bakery (bagels, muffins, donuts, and special rolls that vary weekly) plus I make a breakfast sandwich on english muffins. We also have fruit, juice, bottled water, and yogurt available.
I buy my coffee from a coffee shop, they grind it for me and I buy 3-4 pounds a week.
Right now the temporary cafe is operating with me purchasing all consumable items and whatever is left over is my salary. I do not want to handle it that way when we are open more than Sunday mornings. So the new plan will be the church will handle the accounting and I will be the only one who makes a salary. Everyone else will be volunteer staff. Unless we find that there will be enough money to pay others. The church is not planning on making profits, just a service to the people of the church.
The plan is to add other "coffee" items in the new building. Right now we just make a few coffees, I am hoping to add an espresso machine at opening.
I am sure there is a tax lawyer in the church and I know there is an IRS guy. I guess I need to make appointments with them to get all the scoop. The inspectors have been in all along the way to make sure the kitchen area is up to code.
One other thing I need to say is the building is right across the street from a high school and we are hoping to be open daily after school. Since the building is a gym and rec area, we will draw teens. I think that leads me to fountain soda and frozen drinks. Any idea about that?