From market stall to restaurant: 4 things you need to know

Growing a business from just selling at a market to a full blown restaurant is a huge task. Massive in fact. Colossal even. We caught up with two brave souls who have managed to pull it off – and picked their brains to see what advice they had to share for others.


1. Finding a location

The great thing about markets is you’re pretty much guaranteed foot traffic past your stall and you can rely more on impulse purchases. This isn’t the case when it comes to a restaurant. The plan you have for your type of restaurant will determine your location. Your plan must include menu, pricing, target audience and annual sales expected.

“Finding a good spot in Cape Town is tough. Some spaces were too small, others too expensive or the location not suitable.” – Amy

The Hungry Herbivore’s launched a trendy vegan restaurant with items priced in the mid-range. They Chose 11 Orphan street as it’s close enough for businesses in the area who need lunch but is also a fairly on-trend up and coming area where people are health conscious and open to new foods.

“When we found 11 Orphan St, it was available immediately and once walking through the doors we loved it and knew we had to make it happen.” – Amy

Brent and Amy outside their new place.
Brent and Amy outside their new place.

Once you’ve found your place you will have to act FAST. Get your paperwork in order beforehand. Key items include:

  • Business plan
  • Personal Balance sheet listing assets and liabilities
  • Credit report
  • Bank statements
  • Your personal tax returns

For more good advice on leasing a restaurant, read up here.

2. Getting funding

You can typically start out at a market on just your savings. Restaurants, however,  require a hefty upfront investment to secure the location and equipment. If you’ve saved up from your market days then you will be able to make a start, but if you don’t have capital here are a few funding options:

  • An angel investor: This is someone who gives you capital in exchange for equity in the business
  • Bank funding: Getting a loan from your current bank will require you to have all your paperwork up to date including financial projections
  • Crowd Funding: If you have a unique concept and a lot of time check out sites such as
  • Government Grants: The good news is a grant doesn’t have to be repaid, however, it does come with a number of strict guidelines. Be sure to check out the following institutions

“We have put everything we own into it and even this wasn’t enough. After being turned away by banks we turned to family for help which isn’t an easy thing to do. Luckily everyone believes in us enough and they have helped to make our dream a reality.” – Amy

3. Leveling up your people management

More staff, more suppliers, more skills, personalities and craziness.

A key make-or-break factor for your new restaurant will be the quality of your staff. If you hire great people and treat them well, they will do more than their fair share and make running your restaurant for more profitable and pleasurable.

Meet the Herbivores
Meet the Herbivores

Make sure you allocate enough time and resources to finding the right people. It takes longer than you think. Some ways to go about it are

  • Ask for referrals
  • Interview them thoroughly to see if they fit your brand and philosophy
  • Read a bit about labour law regulations so you’re not caught on the back foot
  • Ask other people who have been through this for advice
  • Keep languages in mind. Having people on your team who speak multiple languages is a huge asset as you never know who might walk through your door.

“When people are involved, there will always be challenges. We had learnt from our market days to hire carefully and selectively, so we spent a good amount of time on this process. Right now we have a great team and hopefully, we can all grow together.” – Amy

Finally, keep in mind that if you are moving your current market staff to your new restaurant you will need to up-skill them with training and be specific with what you expect from them now vs. then.

4. Preparing your suppliers and systems

The number of suppliers you use is going to grow – fast. The Hungry Herbivore team currently has 30 suppliers on board, some are small and new, others are large distribution companies. Keeping track of everyone and everything can become a nightmare so make sure you get a solid accounting platform and stock management system in place.

The Hungry Herbivores use the following tools:

The final, most important takeaway is, don’t be afraid to get extra hands on board. You don’t have to do everything yourself.

“One of best decisions was to get help and hire a PA. Jamie does all our admin and whatever we need her to and she cares about the business as if it were her own. It’s really taken a weight off our shoulders knowing we can rely on someone.” – Amy

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Follow the Hungry Herbivore’s journey by liking their social pages:


Twitter: @thehungry_h

Instagram: @the_hungry_herbivore


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