Investigating Starting Up A Drive-Thru-Only Operation

ABM

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I'm currently conducting various research and due diligence regarding opening a drive-thru-only espresso operation.

Can anyone point me to any available resources pertaining to this type of operation? I'm at least curious as to what the revenue averages/ratios are between a sit-down (w/drive-thru) vs. drive-thru-only.

As it stands, I think I've found a real nice location which is:

On a very large parking lot, yet accessable to utilities/sewer (site (pharmacy store) owner is VERY interested in talking business)

Highly visible to traffic

Morning commute side of the road

On a nice, suburban commute route roughly 30-40 minutes from downtown

DOT traffic numbers show 30,000+ vehicles per day.

My ultimate goal is to have at least two drive-thru-onlys up and running successfully before I even think about a sit-down shop (and the increased costs that go with it.)

Thanks in advance!

ABM
 

davidsbiscotti

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The building you are looking at, is it for sale?
What would be your lot rent and lease terms?

Have you found answers to your questions on how to formulate traffic and sales?
 
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ABM

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davidsbiscotti said:
The building you are looking at, is it for sale?
What would be your lot rent and lease terms?

Have you found answers to your questions on how to formulate traffic and sales?

Yes, the building is for sale. They can move to my site

$400 per month rent.

Not sure about the traffic/sales. I did check with the DOT and the traffic is over 30,000 cars per day.
 

davidsbiscotti

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I've seen the figure .5% thrown around before in this forum.
I guess, you'd need to determine what your avg. sale might be, then multiply that dollar amount by 150 (the sum of your 30,000 x .005). E.g., $3 avg. sale, times 150 = $450 per day. If that's the scenario, then it sounds like a little goldmine to me!

Here is a link to a short but informative thread on traffic count:
http://www.coffeeforums.com/viewtopic.p ... ht=traffic
 
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ABM

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davidsbiscotti said:
I've seen the figure .5% thrown around before in this forum.
I guess, you'd need to determine what your avg. sale might be, then multiply that dollar amount by 150 (the sum of your 30,000 x .005). E.g., $3 avg. sale, times 150 = $450 per day. If that's the scenario, then it sounds like a little goldmine to me!

I'm thinking the same, as well, Dave.

Thanks. :grin:
 

ElPugDiablo

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ABM said:
Not sure about the traffic/sales. I did check with the DOT and the traffic is over 30,000 cars per day.
Couple of things for you to think about. If the road is divided and if the space is not located right at a traffic light then you need to figure half of the 30,000 cars cannot get to your place unless they do a U turn. If the road is 4 lanes, 2 going one direction and 2 going the opposite direction. You need to figure those cars on the left (fast) lane are less likely to pull into your lot. Also if your spot is at the beginning or at the end of the commute, you will have greater hit rate than if your spot is in the middle of the commuter's drive.
 
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ABM

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ElPugDiablo said:
Couple of things for you to think about. If the road is divided and if the space is not located right at a traffic light then you need to figure half of the 30,000 cars cannot get to your place unless they do a U turn. If the road is 4 lanes, 2 going one direction and 2 going the opposite direction. You need to figure those cars on the left (fast) lane are less likely to pull into your lot. Also if your spot is at the beginning or at the end of the commute, you will have greater hit rate than if your spot is in the middle of the commuter's drive.

2 lanes both directions - no median, center turn lane. The space is on the morning commute side which will be huge. Not near a traffic light, but plenty of visibility as to allow them to move over to the right lane.

The spot is in a suburb and most folks that are driving by will be on their way to the city (Atlanta), which is about a 30-minute commute. Should be a very good spot for them to pop in and get their "fuel" for the commute.

This is kind of a cutting edge opportunity as, really, there are very, very few drive-thrus in the metro area at this time. Atlanta is ready for primetime, baby!
 

davidsbiscotti

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Is this something you think you could handle yourself or will you have help for the second window?

I don't want to pry too much, but have you worked in coffee shops before?

It seems that it could get a bit hectic during rush hour in a small drive-thru. Just curious.
 
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ABM

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davidsbiscotti said:
Is this something you think you could handle yourself or will you have help for the second window?

I don't want to pry too much, but have you worked in coffee shops before?

It seems that it could get a bit hectic during rush hour in a small drive-thru. Just curious.

Good questions!

4 total employees. 1 full-time; 2 part-time, and myself (although, for now, I'll be keeping my daytime corporate job)

I'll plan for 2 working the morning shift with crossover into the afternoons. Haven't totally yet set the hours.
 

davidsbiscotti

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Aha! So you're more of a business man than a coffee freak. It all makes better sense now. I thought you were a coffee freak but something wasn't adding up for me. That's cool, we have enough freaks in this forum. :D
 
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ABM

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To be totally honest, I haven't really even come close to nailing down the space lease portion as of yet.

I was wondering if anyone in here has any ideas as to ballpark figures for leasing a portion of a parking lot? (again, 8' x 16' double-drive-thru.)

In my situation, this is a pharmacy that has a very large parking lot. I've already had a brief discussion with the owner. He's very interested in talking to me about my venture. However, neither him nor I have any real experience in this type of thing, so i wouldn't even know where to begin when negotiating a lease figure. Are there any basic figures or guidleines on these types of things. Certainly, I know it depends on where you live, but..................

Help! :shock:

Thanks!
ABM
 
Jan 18, 2008
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Yeh, my thought is that it sure is expensive to make coffee.

Is that the typical drive-thru coffee machine to use?

You could almost buy a new Hyundai with that $8k.
 
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ABM

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caffe biscotto said:
Is that the typical drive-thru coffee machine to use?

I guess that's my bottom-line question, as well. From what I'm hearing, due to speed issues, I should use a "super automatic" if I'm to operate a drive-thru-only?

Talked to a friend of mine in the business, and I'm hearing that $5k + is what you're gonna have to pay for these bad boys.
 

lighthouse coffee

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Hi ABM I have had a drive-thru for 8 years and a super automatic machine is a bad idea when a customer sees you just press a button there is no magic.To see the shots being poured and hear the steam wand as it froths the milk makes for a better drink in the mind of the customer.

A semi auto tripple machine can handle more business then you will most likley have.I have 2 shifts morn/afternoon with only 1 girl each shift.The empolyee costs are the biggest part of your expences (30% and up) and a well trained employee can crank those drinks just right and plenty fast.

Will you be hooked up to water and sewer?Will the health/building dept, allow this useage?Check with local city codes before you sign any lease.
There is a lot to learn about espresso (not hard) but a lot.


The old \"have money put away for expences the first year\" is so true.It might take so time to build a espresso business and when you do you might see one opening down the street.

There is someone on this website who does this advice for a fee you might check on him..
 
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