So you’re thinking of opening up your own restaurant? Congratulations! But what type should you open? There are many different types of restaurants to choose from, and they can be either high-end or low-end. A lot of factors go into this decision, but the main question is: which type will make me the most money? In this blog post, we will explore 21 different options and look inside the concepts to find out how profitable they actually are, and can should you get into the world of that specific type! Let’s get started!
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One of the most profitable restaurants types are bars, pubs, and other establishments that revolve around alcohol. Alcohol has one of the highest markups out there which makes this type a good investment for any restaurateur. Bars come in many different shapes and sizes so it’s really up to you as an owner to choose what kind would work best with your establishment!
There are many pubs that are mainly for beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages and not much more. These places are usually equipped with that typical and stylish pub décor with dark wooden colors etc. Also, you can nearly always find a dartboard, billiard table, or television within the establishment. You can usually purchase some nuts, chips, or other snacks from there as well.
There are also more complex bars with perhaps a nightclub inside that opens at night, a dance floor, more drink choices, larger staff, and higher customer volume. These bars need to invest money into the business but the returns are also greater.
According to a study bars usually pay themselves back after a couple of years of operation which is all profit afterward, if managed properly.
2. Food Truck
Food trucks can be an extremely profitable business model if done correctly and you know how to choose a great location. In fact, a study made by FoodtruckEmpire shows that over 50% of food truck owners bring in more than $150,000 annual gross revenue, and over 85% bring in more than $100,000. If these numbers don’t get you excited then I won’t know what will.
Of course, there are many things to consider for example all the licenses, location, technical aspects, and equipment and supplies for the food truck but it will be worth the while.
In addition to food trucks, there are different carts and stands with a similar business model which can bring in quite the profit as well. Food trucks, carts, and stands usually have an extremely limited menu revolving around hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, tacos, ice cream, and more. Everybody loves the foods mentioned so this is certainly one of the reasons why food trucks are one of the best restaurant types to open.
3. Fine Dining
Fine dining restaurants are excellent for business types, especially because their high-profit margins can be used to make you even more successful. According to a survey, fine dining restaurants make at least 30% profit per meal which is unbelievable when compared to other types. The national average in the USA for most restaurants is around $80,000/year net profit so if your fine dining restaurant would be in a good spot, you could quickly pass the average!
However, opportunities like this usually have the second side as doing fine dining restaurants. Maintaining or even achieving such high-quality standards can be difficult but if you’re up for the task and can find professional and motivated employees, then I have no doubt that you can succeed in the fine-dining world!
Fine dining restaurants usually have at least five courses including an appetizer, entrée, main course, second course, and dessert. Some of the most lavish fine dining restaurants can offer 8 or more dishes that take hours to prepare and serve, therefore the price is according to the time, quality, and effort.
4. Casual Dining
When booking a reservation to a decent and beautiful restaurant, it is usually a casual dining restaurant. They are fund service restaurants with a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere with usually affordable prices, however not cheap! The average bill in a casual dining restaurant is between $35-$40.
Opening a casual dining restaurant is definitely one of the best types because they are highly popular between all different groups of people and the profit margins are decent and the prices aren’t as high as in fine dining ones, therefore it won’t rule any group of people out.
Usually, casual dining restaurants do need many staff members which can be costly but when done correctly and researching on how to save money in the restaurant business, it can turn out quite profitable.
5. Fast Food
Fast food restaurants are without the question the most recognized restaurant type because of McDonald’s, Subway, Taco Bell, and you name it!
Fast food restaurants are one of the best types of restaurants to open because they attract customers like bees to honey. These restaurants are the masters of attracting customers, convenience, speed, and limited-time offers that are carefully researched for decades.
The fast-paced environment of a typical fast-food restaurant can be hectic, but luckily the meals aren’t as hard to prepare as in casual or even fine dining restaurants. Many restaurants offer counter service and deliver your meal right to the tables if they are in a hurry. Fast food restaurants also often have drive-through options and even home delivery is possible now with the help of companies like Postmates.
6. Delivery Only
For those of you that are looking for a food delivery service, Delivery only or sometimes called Ghost restaurants will be the perfect fit. These services have been increasing in popularity over the years with increased demand from customers. If the restaurant knows how to market itself on social media or through other means, it can have great success with incredible profit margins.
Virtual restaurants are so new and operating mainly in big cities so there isn’t any reliable information about the profit markings yet but think about it. When you remove the storefront and waiters, the savings on those two aspects are astronomical when compared to a regular kitchen. You won’t need the best location either for the restaurant because there’s only the kitchen where the chefs do their magic and you can forget about expensive furniture and customer-attracting tricks as well.
With the reasons above it is safe to say that delivery-only, ghost or virtual restaurants are one of the best ideas for a restaurant out there. However, if you need interaction and friendly chats with customers and between chefs and waiters, then this might not be the best option for you.
Diners can be an extremely smart restaurant type to choose if you can pick a great spot where people come for breakfast and lunch. For example, the near area of an office building for a large company or a busy downtown could be the perfect fit for a diner.
Most diners focus on breakfast meals such as omelets, eggs, sausages, and some home foods. Fried foods are highly popular in diners as well!
The problem with a diner is that some of them are only open within the morning hours that could hurt the overall revenue in addition to the usually low-cost meals. That’s why many diners have made the choice to be open in the evening and even at night and serve the same meals throughout the day which is more profitable than it sounds. Even the meals are usually priced low, the ingredients to make them are the lowest of all the restaurant types as well which balances the scales and enables the opportunity for being a highly profitable business model.
The café, the homeland of universally loved coffee. Coffee has a surprisingly large markup in most cases as well if you serve different specialty coffees with the help of a quality espresso machine. Cafes can be a smart choice for a restaurant type for a couple of reasons. First, most cafes are self-serve operating businesses which means that the employee need is low, usually from 1-3 workers at a time! Also, cafes don’t have to worry about dozens upon dozens of different ingredients which makes it one of the easiest business models as well, in addition to the relaxed and chill atmosphere.
Many cafés offer outdoor seating, comfortable furniture, and ambient lighting which attract regular customers, remote workers, and people who want to interact with the employees creating a comfortable and cozy place to work.
The offerings in a café include coffee, tea, hot chocolate, sandwiches, different cakes and pastries, and other small foods. The smell in a coffee shop is exquisite from the freshly ground coffee which is the cherry on top of the cake!
9. Buffet Restaurant
Against general opinions, a buffet restaurant can be extremely profitable even when the customers can serve themselves as much as they want and I’ll tell you why!
First of all, buffet restaurants don’t need as many employees as a full-service restaurant so the labor costs are relatively low! Second, buffet restaurants usually bulk order from their carefully thought supplier which brings the costs even lower. If you have ever visited a buffet, then you might have noticed that the cheapest foods usually come first so the customers can pile up the plates as well and the plates in a buffet restaurant are usually smaller than in a full-service restaurant.
With these things in mind and other money-saving methods, buffet restaurants are not only barely hanging from a thread, but making a serious profit in some cases. Of course, if you don’t think about these things, it can go down really fast and the meal cost per person can be too high to comprehend.
The steakhouse is an extremely profitable business if done right! The right way to make a steakhouse worth your while is to sell additional side dishes, expensive drinks, and other unsellable like all successful steakhouses do.
Where the steak itself is a relatively expensive dish, it is expensive to buy as well. The real magic to get those dreamy profits lies in selling expensive red wines with steak, side salads, fries, finger foods, and desserts!
Let’s say that a party of two goes to dine in a steak house. Both of them order a steak dinner, two glasses of wine per person, a shareable side dish, and a shareable dessert. This could easily cost $150-$200 and even more. The steak dishes probably make $60-$80 of the total bill. As we can see when the restaurant is offering additional dishes that are tempting, it will skyrocket the profitability of the establishment.
Steak houses mainly focus on different cuts of premium meats. However many steak houses offer poultry and fish options as well. You will rarely find vegan choices in a steak house.
Bistros are restaurants in many ways, however, there are some notable differences that you should know about! The first difference between a bistro and a traditional restaurant is that bistros usually don’t have servers/waiters. That really shows in the prices because bistros are usually cheap where you go mainly for some grub, wherein restaurants you pay from the service as well.
Bistro’s menus are usually really simple and they rely on what people widely love to eat. The cuisine in most bistros is somewhat French and it’s no wonder because they originate from France. Another big difference between a restaurant and a bistro is that bistros focus highly on a relaxed, cozy, and stress-free atmosphere which is considered as a place to hang out as well.
If you would need to compare a bistro to some other restaurant type, it would without a question be a cafe. They are very much alike but the main difference between them is that bistro isn’t so focused on coffee, even you would get a cup from there as well.
A bistro is a great restaurant if you’re looking for something more affordable. The ingredients and labor costs are way lower than in a regular restaurant too which makes it an easy-to-start and potentially lucrative choice.
This restaurant type doesn’t need much of an introduction. Most pizza restaurants rake in surprisingly large profits and usually have a low cost of entry. Even when the usual entry cost isn’t that high, it may vary depending on the location, equipment, and size of the establishment.
There are two types of pizzerias: Slice shops that sell slices and other takeaway snacks for lunch or dinner, with the occasional full meal topping off an otherwise healthy menu. Then there are of course pizza restaurants that offer everything from pizza to calzones in addition to appetizers like mozzarella sticks or wings.
The average profit margin from a pizzeria is 7%, however, many restaurants earn way over 20% which is quite good, and those numbers make you think whether a pizzeria would be a profitable option as a restaurant type!
13. Pop-up Restaurant
Pop-up restaurants are an effective way for professional chefs to gain more exposure and skill recognition, this way they can find investors so they could open a restaurant.
Pop-up restaurants are also a great idea if you want to try and experiment with different cuisines, ideas, and concepts that might or might not work in the area without changing the establishment’s location.
There is a pop-up restaurant for every category from a simple beer garden with beautiful outdoor seating that is open only for the summer months to a high-quality high-end restaurant with respectable skillsets. Most pop-up restaurants have a unique location such as an old building, rooftop, warehouse, or similar location.
The attraction of pop-up restaurants is that there are significantly lower costs on opening one, therefore way lower risk so this may be a great idea if you are a beginner. Also, it can be a skyrocketing way to make a name for yourself in the food industry so if you are a skilled one, this might be a shortcut to the heavens.
14. Sandwich Bar
As the name suggests, a sandwich bar offers mainly sandwiches. Don’t be thinking about those $2 sandwiches of your local supermarket because a sandwich bar can rise to a level you couldn’t have thought of.
Sandwich bars are a trend that’s been growing in the past few years. They usually offer lunch hours, with an emphasis on sandwiches and wraps to choose from in addition to more traditional options like french fries or onion rings as side dishes for those who don’t want just bread. These are perfect if you’re looking into opening a franchise restaurant. A great example of this type is the Jimmy John’s sandwich business, and they have locations in all 50 states! Subway is another great example of a successful sandwich bar franchise that is comparable with McDonald’s and other worldwide success-earned restaurants.
A tavern or an inn is highly focused on wines and other alcoholic beverages alongside tapas, snacks, or other simple and small foods. The history of inns goes way back in the history when travelers came to foreign lands and the inn was a place where you could get wine, food, women, and a room for the night. Nowadays they are a little more sophisticated however in someplace you might get room to sleep in!
The pricing in taverns and inns is usually really affordable and they offer a wide selection of different wines and other beverages.
16. Seafood Restaurant
Starting a high-end seafood restaurant can be an extremely smart choice because the ingredients are costly and in demand. Fish, caviar, crabs, oysters, or shrimps all sell at expensive prices which allows for higher-priced menu items to be charged. You can also make a fast-food restaurant, pasta restaurant, or a fine dining restaurant revolving around seafood which could boos up the profit margins even further.
The only downside would be that you need experience or knowledge about cooking these types of foods because many kinds of seafood can be dangerous to eat if not properly cooked. If you serve such hard to prepare ingredients, finding the right employees could be hard as well.
17. Vegan Restaurant
Veganism is highly on the rise and when the consciousness about the planet will proceed, so will the popularity and demand of vegan restaurants.
The beauty of vegan restaurants is that a lot of the ingredients are vegetables, fruits, etc that are extremely cheap to come by, however, some of the new vegan products don’t have so much demand yet for example Beyond Meat so they can get quite expensive to purchase. In addition, vegan products last longer without spoiling so they will have more shelf time within the restaurant which will lead to less time spent ordering and worrying about the stock.
If you are leaning towards a vegan restaurant, I would highly advise researching the local area, and depending on the country, veganism maybe even unheard of, therefore it would crash down extremely quickly. In other places where veganism is highly popular, like in the United Kingdom, a vegan restaurant might prove itself a highly viable restaurant type.
18. Pasta Restaurant
Pasta restaurants can generate a generous profit for themselves if they classify themselves as a high-end restaurants, then they can reach the amazing markups that are available for pasta restaurants.
Pasta is a fairly inexpensive ingredient, and usually, in pasta dishes, there aren’t insane amounts of meat such as you would find in steak or another similar dish. Cream and tomato sauce are often involved and they don’t cost much either. If the restaurant has a high-end reputation they can sell a plate of pasta for $20-$30! Talk about decent markup! Garlic bread, wines, and other side orders are highly popular within a pasta restaurant which will make the restaurant even more profitable.
In addition, many people adore pasta restaurants myself included because of the low lighting, intimate ambient, and calming atmosphere. If you are looking for a good restaurant type, pasta restaurants certainly are one for the books!
19. Locally Sourced Restaurant
These farm-to-table restaurants have grown extremely popular in recent years. People in big cities in special have seemed to notice the value of locally sourced ingredients. The beauty of starting and owning this type of restaurant is that you can usually get the ingredients at a relatively low price, especially if you have the right supplier as a neighbor. However, the prices are usually a bit higher than if ordered straight from Sysco or US Foods. The prices aren’t usually from the lowest end within the restaurant because of the sustainability, purchasing price, and appreciation towards locally sourced meals.
20. Sports Bar/Restaurant
Sports bars or restaurants can and usually will be extremely profitable due to heavy masses coming to see a popular game and let’s face it, there’s always a popular game going on!
Many sport-styled restaurants use innovative ideas that take the restaurant to the next level such as decorating it with famous athletes or similar ideas. The menus usually revolve around burger meals, burritos, chicken wings, and other finger foods because the main concept is to provide sports to the customers.
These establishments usually have high markups as well because they can offer rather expensive alcohol servings and if you have ever seen inside of the sports bar in the heart of a fierce game, the orders will come in dozens.
21. Sushi Restaurant
As we all know, sushi is extremely popular these days and one piece can cost from $1-$8 in a premium sushi restaurant. If you know a lot about sushi or are interested to learn it, I would highly recommend this type of restaurant because it could turn out to be your calling!
Another benefit of opening a sushi restaurant is that you can buy sushi-grade fish in bulk. This will be less expensive than buying it in small quantities and this is where the profit margin comes from, by being able to purchase wholesale retail items for your restaurant with a cheaper price tag!
There are also many vegetarian sushi restaurants open nowadays that serve tofu, avocado, vegetables, and other ingredients instead of fish which could attract a whole other group of people to the establishment.
In this article, we went through a wide variety of different types of food concepts you can open and talked about which ones are the most profitable or easiest to run. Hopefully, this article will help you narrow down your decision on what type of food business would be best for you!
If you found this article helpful and learned something new that you can use to help you in your coming days, feel free to leave a comment below! Good luck with starting your own restaurant, it is an exciting journey!