Veganism has slowly been entering the mainstream in the last few years. But besides token meat alternatives on menus, vegan choices in the Philippines are still limited. You must be able to match the burgeoning plant-based consumers with more options. This niche industry gap leaves an opening for food entrepreneurs. Looking to get in on the action? It's about time you learn how to open a vegan restaurant.
How to Open a Vegan Restaurant: A Guide
No one would have imagined veganism spreading so quickly in a meat-loving country. Driven by various health concerns, consumers began searching for meat alternatives low in saturated fats while providing a good source of protein and fiber. Even long-time vegan practitioners are surprised by the rapidly multiplying local population of plant-based fans. The rising demands now present the F&B industry with a novel market. Get yourself ready to enter the lucrative market with these action points.
Learn more about plant-based cuisine.
The success of a vegan restaurant does not rely on the chef and kitchen staff’s knowledge of the cuisine. All FOH and BOH employees must have adequate information about the menu, ingredients, and cooking processes. Patrons need to trust the restaurant to cater to their dietary needs precisely.
Start by gaining education on the basics of dietary restrictions. Knowing the difference between vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based is critical for creating a vegan menu plan.
- Vegetarian is a no-meat diet that may include other animal products like eggs, cheese, and milk. A shiitake mushroom cheesesteak featuring Hellmann’s Charred Tomato and Capers Dressing is a recipe for a vegetarian eatery.
- Vegan does not include animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. Consider adding Vietnamese goi cuon with Hellmann’s Smoked Chilli Dressing to a vegan café's menu.
- Plant-based is an umbrella term used interchangeably to refer to either vegan or vegetarian diets. Restaurants would do well to specify which type of lifestyle their dishes fall under.
Develop your vegan restaurant concept fully.
Plant-based eateries come in many different forms. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly conceptualize the type of dishes to offer and the kind of customers it hopes to attract. Will the joint be serving both vegan and vegetarian meals? Perhaps the restaurant will serve vegan-only dishes?
Work on establishing the cuisine category the business will prioritize. Dining places can specialize in Indian, Mexican, Mediterranean, or Asian cuisines – and still highlight vegan flavors. Alternatively, ventures can focus primarily on salads and grain bowls served with delicious vegan sauces. Facilitate faster food prep by stocking up on ready-made dressings and condiments, like Hellmann’s Miso Ponzu.
Apart from putting together a menu plan for vegan diners, the size and style of the restaurant need consideration. Is the overall vision a casual plant-based café with seating for 20 people? Or is the goal to deliver a fine-dining, farm-to-table vegan experience that could accommodate more than 50 guests? Finalizing these details helps simplify many aspects related to the venture.
Explore partnerships with plant-based suppliers.
Meatless cuisine doesn't have to be expensive or time-consuming to prepare. An essential part of learning how to start a vegan restaurant is to find reliable suppliers. The right plant-based vendors can offer solutions to streamline prep and cooking in the kitchen. They can also ensure the products are 100% animal-free.
Since many consumers switch to a vegan lifestyle due to allergens and health conditions, providing them with the proper food alternatives is a priority. Selecting authentic plant-based products and substitutes ensures customer safety and satisfaction. Look into acquiring meat replacements from suppliers like The Vegetarian Butcher. Use their versatile NoMince in dumplings, spring rolls, savory pies, or eggplant omelet.
Forge strong bonds with local vegetable growers for a stable fresh produce supply. When business gets busy, it’s good to have a farm or distributor who can deliver vegetables at wholesale prices.
Find the best location.
No matter what industry a venture belongs to, location is everything. Research and study the market extensively before choosing where to set up shop. How much foot traffic will it receive in the area?
Think about how neighboring establishments can impact sales. Setting up next to a gym, spa, or fitness studio can generate revenue from health-conscious diners. Market protein-rich vegetarian meals to gym rats aiming to bulk up. Options can include sisig, burger steak, quesadillas, and burger burritos.
Besides considering the location, it is vital to see whether the existing structure fits the restaurant’s needs. For instance, are there provisions for a walk-in cooler? Does it have separate access for supplier deliveries? How much of the current floor plan is usable, or will it require significant renovations? Answers to these questions determine whether the enterprise is profitable. It also helps estimate initial investment capital needed, along with overhead expenses.
Secure your funding.
Adequate funding is needed to lease space, conduct renovations, procure equipment, purchase initial inventory, and for operating expenses.
Start-up costs for small-scale operations such as kiosks, stalls, food booths, and cloud kitchens are roughly between PHP50,000 to PHP2,000,000. Comparatively, capital for large-scale restaurants can easily reach the PHP20M mark. To cover these costs, look into multiple sources of financing, such as bank loans and investors. Since many individuals are passionate about veganism and a plant-based lifestyle, it's beneficial to open funding from wellness groups and like-minded individuals.
Obtain necessary permits.
Every business venture must have proper documentation to operate. Before applying for any, determine first what type of entity to set up. The type of structure affects what permits are needed, determines tax payments, and the extent of owner liabilities.
Requirements for business permits and licenses:
- Tax Identification Number (TIN)
- Contract of Lease
- Barangay Clearance
- Community Tax Certificate (CEDULA)
- DTI or SEC registration
- Mayor’s Permit
- Sanitary Permit
- BIR and SSS registration
Requirements can vary. Navigate the details with the assistance of a lawyer or accountant specializing in business dealings. They can ensure the restaurant follows everything by the book and address any other legal concerns.
Procure equipment and decorate.
Once the space is secure, begin filling it with equipment, decoration, and furniture. Figure out the tools and wares needed, from flat-top grills and fryers to ovens and a walk-in refrigerator.
Aside from the kitchen area, craft a dining space that matches the overall vibe envisioned for the food establishment. Remember that sustainability is integral to the target market's plant-based lifestyle when decorating. Furnish the restaurant with second-hand items or sustainable options like reclaimed wood tables, hemp tablecloths, or wine bottle vases. Bear in mind that the right vegan-appropriate decor helps define the business and the brand.
Monetize extra space.
Many existing vegan bistros open their spaces to showcase and sell eco-friendly items – used books, reusable tote bags, and local artisanal goods. Dedicating space for retail provides an opportunity to generate more revenue through minimal investments or a consignment basis. It is also a clever way to promote and support the vegan community.
Tips for Attracting the Local Market
Marketing is a critical aspect of attracting your target audience. Paying to advertise a new business is a widespread practice but not the only effective method. Market your vegan restaurant successfully with these tips.
- Capitalize on in-season fruits and vegetables. Regularly update the menu and change it to match different seasons. Periodically refreshing the selection keeps guests coming back for more.
- Organize events to attract new patrons. Tasting menus that highlight new recipes and chef innovations encourage regulars to return. Offer special promotions to introduce vegan flavors to non-vegan practitioners.
- Personalized marketing campaigns are trendy. Give out loyalty cards with discounts to restaurant regulars.
- Offer diet or meal plans for diet enthusiasts or people searching for healthy food delivery ideas.
- Provide calorie information, macros, and ingredient list in your menu for each dish. Include preparation methods and an allergen list to attract customers who are mindful of what they eat.
- Use social media to interact with vegan communities, animal groups, and health clubs. Interact with consumers and promote business through posts, stories, and photos.
Due to geographical and financial constraints, switching to a vegan way of life was challenging and intimidating for many. But this is no longer the case. Thanks to technological advancements, restaurateurs can now provide the market with vegan products and dishes that are affordable and accessible.
A bright future is ahead for the plant-based industry as fast-food titans roll out their vegan offerings. Eventually, these restaurant chains not only attract customers but will also help lower the overall prices of vegan dishes. Don’t wait for the playing field to be saturated. Make learning how to open a vegan restaurant a top priority and start your business today.