Extremely small space for coffee bar- is this doable??


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Apr 17, 2007
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:grin: Hi Everyone!

I am looking to open a coffee bar and am slowly narrowing down prospective locations. One of the locatoins I am intereted in is very small - 550 SF total. Due to the shape of this location (L-shape) and the fact that the bathroom takes up much of the space, I am left with very little space for my counter/prep area - basically a 10' x 10' square (with one side and 1/3 of another side accessible by patrons (this would be the front counter) - the other 2 and 2/3 sides are walls (where the back counter items would be placed). Is this enough space? I know it will depend on what I want to serve. In addition to coffee and espresso drinks, I would like to serve pastries (obtained from a bakery, not baked in house), as well as packaged sandwiches (not sure whether or not these will be made in-house) and possibly a small selection of ice cream (featuring 4 flavors at a time), I may also offer smoothies in addition to, or instead of the ice cream.
I have spec sheets on the equipment that I think I will need, and it seems to fit, albeit very tightly into the space. It does not leave any room for an office.
I am wondering, can I make a successful espresso bar work in this tiny space, or will it be too cramped?

I realize this size is not ideal, but is it doable? This particular space, although small, has several benefits, one being the low rent.
I am currently working with an architect who mainly has experience in residential projects, so I am not sure that her layout of the service area is realistic or not. As for the seating area, the current layout is configured to seat approximately 15 people.

Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions!
Hey SG:

10X10 is enough space to do an espresso stand. However, it is hard to know how to lay it out without seeing photos. Also why do you need an office space in this location? Additionally it is more important to have room for reefers, storage, sinks & everything important for running the business. Can you take a few photos of the location and post them so we can have a better idea of what you are working with?
One of our cafes is 10m x 8m...and despite the really tight spacing does very well. Like in your case, we have a large, rather luxurious toilet that cuts into the cafe space, making the service area into a tight and restricted L shape. We have adapted the service area and all works well...apart from the fact on a busy weekend day we have to try and fit 6 staff into the kitchen area! Utilising the small spacu have is really important. Storage, or lack of, can be an issue. We have worked around this by having some extra verticle storage that you may not find inmost cafes.
our first location was a converted one car garage a bit off the beaten path in a tourist trap of a village. bottled water with a battery powered pump. we bought baked goods too. It was a cute little place. every time the landlord saw that we had business, she tried to raise the rent. (no lease)

we were one step beyond a cart. maybe.
Given the right selection of behind the bar equipment, you will do fine. More efficient, 2 people working max. Utilize your wall to ceiling space for shelving.
Make certain your flow is right--design wise, and it could be a gem.