Thursday 30 March 2017

7 Tips for Opening a Culture Café

Drinking coffee or catching up at a café with friends is a way of life. A few years ago, a café would have been as simple as a milk bar with a small espresso machine behind the counter, whereas today the cafés are more diverse in their interior design and their food and extremely focused on specialising and differentiating.

A Culture Café is one that celebrates diversity in interior design, menu, customer service and staff. Many different kinds of cafés now exist, and the less generalist a place is, the more popular it seems to become. Running a culture café has become a need for most café owners, which makes it great for cultural diversity. 

Websites like have made it easier for new café owners to make their cafés more diverse, but for that extra bit of help, read on as today we have Damien, our guest contributor discussing seven fundamental tips for opening up a culture café. 

If you’re hoping to draw a niche clientele, then having a design that caters to that crowd is the best way to go about it. As an example, Melbourne, Australia (considered to be the coffee capital of the world) is overrun with cafés and small businesses that are simply oozing with creativity and chic appeal.

With that said, finding a balance between the pleasant and peculiar has never been more pressing than in café design, as the vibe of your caffeinated company is integral to how your clientele will react to it. For the most part, offering your customers calm or muted colours that will allow them to relax while sitting down to a lovely latte, whilst flashy modernism lends itself more towards a fast turnover environment. While neither are necessarily right or wrong, both offer perks and pitfalls that the other will certainly lack.

When designing the interiors of the café think about layout, including bar design and seating plan. Create a vision or mood board and update or edit regularly with pictures of inspiration, ideas and things that you like and those that move you. Make a list of the furniture, crockery, glassware, flatware, appliances, lights and decor accessories that you will need.

Diversify Your Menu
The menu you offer up to your customers can be very dividing, depending on how much you can afford or are willing to provide. Ensuring there are some halal, vegetarian, vegan and kosher options makes for a diverse and interesting menu, but the key factor here is making sure that those dishes are all equally delectable.

Many times a café will fall short on it’s vegetarian or vegan customer-base because the dishes they offer for those dietary requirements are bland or tasteless, and the same can be said for the dishes with religious affiliations. It is imperative for a successful culture café to focus on food - diverse and delicious, made from fresh local produce.

Prior to starting a café, travel to the places you want to emulate. Immersing yourself in the culture of these places is the best way to understand how they work, and unlike performing internet searches, actually being there in the midst of it all allows you to see it, smell it, taste it and fully experience it. The way to accurately and honestly emulate something is to know it through and through, and that can be done best by spending time with or in it. For example, if your dream is to own a café by the sea, then travel to the coast and experience the cafés there, see their interior designs first hand and enjoy their fresh food to get a holistic idea.

Another way to culture your café is to have a rotating specials board to bring something interesting at seasonal intervals. Try updating your specials board once every two or three days, or in accordance with what ingredients you can get at the farmers markets in your local area. If you happen to live by the ocean, fresh seafood - 'catch of the day' can be a great offering for someone looking for something a bit different, and when they return they’re sure to discover something new on your menu.
Look Around
Cast your eye around the surrounding businesses and try to notice what they have and what they lack. Is the street you have built your café on overwhelmingly monotonous? Is it bustling and lively? Is it largely financial and bleak? Whatever the surroundings are, you should strive to make your café stand out from the crowd which will interest and attract new customers.

Advertising is important for any business, so be strategic and reach out to your target market through smart and unique ways. Advertising your café to a diverse group of people will help to bridge gaps between those that otherwise might not have common ground with each other. In this, your café becomes more important than just a business, it becomes a point of connection for people, it becomes a culture!

Hire Selectively
Hiring people who do not support your dream of a culturally diverse café can be highly detrimental to your end goal. Negative mindsets can affect the vibe of a place and needs to be avoided at all costs especially in a culture café. Hire a diverse staff to cater to your culturally rich clientele. 

Culture cafés can often be the most successful of all in the café world, because they highlight the importance of diversity and radiate positivity around accepting other cultures and fundamentally affecting the surrounding communities.

Till next time... I'm off to get a cup of coffee!

About the Author
Damien Tune is a 22-year-old writer from Melbourne, interested in music, technology, animals and travel. He spends his spare time writing music and playing with his dogs.

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