Everyone’s gotta eat. As a result, the number of food-service operations has skyrocketed nationwide from 155,000 about 40 years ago to nearly 960,000 today. And it’s an industry that’s still growing.

 

Shifting demographics and changing lifestyles are driving the surge in food-service businesses. Busy consumers don't have the time or inclination to cook. They want the flavor of fresh bread without the hassle of baking. They want tasty, nutritious meals without dishes to wash. In fact, the rise in popularity of to-go operations underscores some clear trends in the food-service industry. More and more singles, working parents and elderly people are demanding greater convenience when it comes to buying their meals.

 

Though the future looks bright for the food-service industry overall, there are no guarantees in this business. Even the most successful operators will tell you this isn't a "get rich quick" industry. It's more like a "work hard and make a living" industry.

 

Half of all restaurants fail during their first three years; frequently due to a lack of planning. But that doesn't mean your food-service business has to be a complex operation. In fact, the more streamlined, the better your chances are for success.

 

To help you get started, we've compiled this thorough, but easy-to-digest, guide to starting your own food business. Whether your dream is to open a traditional American diner, a New York-style pizzeria, a Chinese buffet, a deli for busy lunch-goers or a local coffeehouse/hang-out spot, start your research here.

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