3 Tips For Starting A Cafe - With Shaun De Vries


This month, we picked the brain of Shaun de Vries, hospitality advisor at Open Pantry Consulting and podcaster on Principle of Hospitality.

Not only does Shaun have over 25 years experience in the industry, he has spoken to nearly everyone and anyone you can think of when it comes to running a hospitality business!  

Since the big C happened, the industry has gotten even harder to succeed in, so we wanted to know with all of the insights Shaun has gained over the years, what his top three tips were for opening and running a successful cafe.

Here's what Shaun had to say:

Opening a cafe is more than just serving great coffee; it's about creating a space where every cup tells a story. With my journey through the hospitality industry and countless conversations with experts on the 'Principle of Hospitality' podcast, I've distilled my insights into three key tips for anyone aspiring to open a successful cafe.



1. Know your grounds - understanding your market & audience

The first sip of success starts with understanding your market. Every neighbourhood has its own rhythm, preferences and tastes. It's crucial to blend into this local culture while adding your unique flavour. 

I recall a cafe owner we advised who transformed his business by tailoring his menu to local preferences, which we uncovered through customer feedback when he took over the venue. This approach not only increased his sales by 30%, but also turned his cafe into a local favourite.


2. The art of cafe craft - the role of branding & design

Your cafe is not just a place; it's a story waiting to be told. This is where branding and design play a pivotal role. Collaborating with branding experts like Principle Design can help you brew a strong identity for your cafe, from logo to the layout every element should resonate with your vision. Remember, your brand is the promise of the experience you're offering. A well crafted design can be the difference between being just another cafe a community landmark. 


3. More than a menu - operational excellence and customer experience

Finally, the backbone of any successful cafe is operational excellence and an unforgettable customer experience. This isn't just about efficiency, it's about creating moments that customers cherish, it's the barista who remembers your name, the perfectly timed service and the consistency in every cup. Operational success comes from a well trained team and a passion for excellence. As hospitality advisors, we've seen how cafes that focus on these aspects not only retain customers but also become stories that people share.