Consulting for a Restaurant or Cafe in a CBD location

Complexities of operating in a busy CBD location.

Yes the hours are appealing, early finishes mostly, with no weekends and high volume. But running a Cafe, Salad Bar or Coffee shop in the CBD can be harder than running a quality Restaurant.

Why? Because you would usually hire a semi-qualified Chef or Waiter in a Restaurant, who will hopefully already have been to college or TAFE and hence would have basic food handling, coffee making or front of house skills.

Not to be taken for granted in a Cafe. Your standard CBD location will usually have a narrow window of trade, mainly between 11.30 am and 3pm (slacking off slightly after 2 pm). Unless you have a strong morning trade, most of your takings will be at lunch and as such you will not have a full team on site from early in the day. Maybe a few full time staff in for the long haul, career wise. Because of this you will probably rely more on casual Staff (more on this another day, as knowing what type of casual staff to employ can save you thousands on advertising and staff turnover when hiring the right type of candidate).

Your average casual staff member willing to work a 3 1/2 hour shift for minimum wage, with a possible one hour commute either side- will not come very qualified and unqualified staff in a highly stressful environment handling your food at peak trade is a recipe for disaster. Therefore training, down to the finest detail is very important. Important for your customers in terms of efficiency and consistency but also for your staff, because nobody wants to work in a manic environment. The more control you have, the happier your staff will be and the less likelihood of them leaving. And your customers will like to see familiar faces, it reassures them. This however, requires consistent monitoring.

Also you must make allowance for staffing levels for any variance in trading caused by anything from the seasonality of your offer to the very natural fluctuations the CBD throws up each year at given times. Over staffing is expensive and bad for moral with too many bodies standing around.

This is also why training is so important, a simple task of sweeping the floor can be completed...

(A) Swiftly with minimum interference to productivity allowing for a presentable store to your customer and a good working
environment for your staff.

(B) Not completed at all, allowing your staff to work in a manic, unpresentable unhygienic environment.


(C) Completed any old way, creating more mayhem and looking like a scene from The River Dance with staff jumping around trying to get out of the way of each other and slowing down the whole process of lunch or dinner service.

Again small details but essential to know before attempting to enter this intense narrow window of busy trade. And one that has seen many casualties. You will have a short window to take your money so if you respect your customers valuable time and desires your best to give them your utmost focus and have your house in order during these hours.

This of course is just one example of how a simple task can affect your busy service time.

"It's the little things ..."

At Copper Pantry Restaurant and Café Consulting, my aim is to teach you from the mistakes I have made. You are not the first to attempt this and the answers could be the difference between success and failure.


Please check out my other blogs and drop me a line if you have any queries. Good Luck.


Best Dishes

Sean McBride