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Launching a successful cafe can prove to be very rewarding. You’ll have a substantial pull on society that will benefit many people. All you need to do is perfect your cafe. To do this, you need to ask the right questions. What do I include? Where will it be located? More importantly, how much does it cost to build a cafe?

Preparing a business outline

The first step to starting a small business is constructing a comprehensive business plan. It serves as more than a funding proposal. It acts as a step-by-step list that covers what you’ll need to open your establishment. It is also an ideal time to consider whether opening a cafe is right for you.

Explaining how much a cafe owner makes is tricky. The amount you could keep after balancing the budget ultimately depends on how fast you can attract a steady clientele. It also depends on your break-even point along with overhead, equipment costs, and payroll, among other factors. Generally speaking, networking and social media marketing are advantageous in launching a business.

Picking the right location

Location is essential to a cafe’s success. When you think about it, the cost to build a cafe is only the tip of the iceberg.

Before making a decision, you should check out the areas you are considering. Keep an eye on how many people are moving on foot, as well as the amount of available parking. Ask yourself the following:

  • Is the location visible?
  • Is the foot traffic adequate to sustain your cafe?
  • What does the location mean regarding demographics?
  • Are you close to other cafes or in your own area?
  • What kind of activities does the local community engage in?

Keep in mind that you will be spending a lot of time here. You need to ensure that you understand what piques the locals’ interest. Additionally, you must understand the details of the retail lease. This document’s terms will impact both the profitability and the resale value of your business down the road. You should consult a lawyer who specializes in retail leases before signing anything.

Develop a floor plan

For cafes, a solid floor plan is a vital component. Customers should have enough space to form a line and employees must be able to have materials within reach. Plus, a comfortable seating area is imperative.

Walk yourself through various scenarios. Suppose you are making coffee. What materials need to be close by? Imagine yourself as a customer and think about what you want in a seating area. Visualize as much as you can and write those ideas down.

The cost to build a cafe

Understanding the economics of managing a cafe is a critical part of bringing it to life. Above all else, you need to consider the initial, fixed, and variable costs. Additionally, the ergonomics of the business.

Don’t let the big number below discourage you. Remember that small business entrepreneurs with a plan have access to startup capital. Initial costs will typically fluctuate depending on the cafe’s size, location, and equipment needs. Here are a handful of rough estimates to give you an idea of the costs:

  • Setting up a sit-down cafe = $200,000 to $375,000
  • A large drive-through shop = $80,000 to $200,000
  • One small kiosk = $25,000 to $75,000
  • A franchise sit-down cafe = approximately $673,700
  • Opening a licensed brand-name store = approximately $315,000

To learn about how the construction process will unfold, read Commercial Construction Process From Start to Finish.


Small business equipment needs will go through variations. However, there is one concrete fact: this is not the same equipment you use for your morning coffee. Industrial coffee brewing and filtration equipment can be expensive. Equipment that no coffee shop can operate without include the following:

  • Coffee grinders and drip coffee makers
  • Espresso machines
  • Systems for water filtration

When purchasing equipment for a cafe – or any other food and beverage business – the hard part is deciding what you need. Moreover, how much of it you should buy. After adding up the high-quality equipment you need to make drinks, the total can amount to $10,000. Maybe even more than that.

A common recommendation is to start slow and increase whenever your budget allows you to. Gradually developing your business rather than plan for improbable numbers simplifies the management of your business’s scale. And this is still applicable even under tight margins. Check out our article How to save money on restaurant equipment to learn more about being economical with the equipment.

What to remember when you build a cafe

Starting an independent cafe is hard work. However, it does not have to be a long-term struggle. By focusing on establishing core components in the construction and business plan, you will be set for success. To get a quote for your project, contact our Calgary construction location and we will help make your dream cafe a reality.