How to Start an Independent Cafe

Have you always wanted to open up your very own cafe? Do you want to be responsible for the next trendy, insta-worthy food craze? Are you ready to be your own boss? This helpful guide will provide you with a great starting point to reach these goals.

If you’re wondering what other types of businesses you could start, you can also check out our comprehensive list of business ideas.

Develop a Business Structure

You will most likely be registering your business as a sole-trader. If you decide to expand your business in the future or even create a franchise, then you may want to change to a partnership or a company. Starting a business as a sole trader is the easiest and most cost-effective avenue for small business owners. Before opening your cafe, you should consider factors such as space, finances, employment, food and beverages, and anything else that is relevant to your business. You should also draw up financial plans, future goals and possible expansions. Being prepared for any situation and obstacle is the starting point to success!

Register Your Business

As with all businesses, you will need to register for an ABN and think of a unique business name. You will need to register your business name unless you plan to operate under your own name. Once you have your ABN, you can then register for GST and PAYG.

Licensing and Legal Requirements

You will need to get in touch with your local council to notify them and obtain a business license to open your small business. Each local council will likely have its own set of requirements; familiarise yourself with the ones that apply to your business. The Food Safety Practices and General Requirements standard code outlines the requirements needed in a food-related business. It is a good idea to look through this to know you legal obligations. You should also appoint a Food Safety Supervisor to ensure that proper procedures and practices are being used. This can be yourself or one of your employees. Once you have complied with all the necessary requirements, your cafe will be inspected by an officer from your council. Ensure you are prepared for this inspection by going through the checklist report. If you are still unsure, contact a business lawyer for advice.

Employing Staff at Your Cafe

You will likely be employing staff members to be waiters and waitresses, chefs, baristas, and potentially managers of your business.
It is essential when employing staff to construct an employee agreement which details the terms of the employment. On top of this, as an employer you need to comply with the relevant industry award. For example, a 16 year old casual cafe worker should be getting paid $12.99 per hour as of 2018, in accordance with the Fast Food Industry Award 2010. Follow this link to calculate pay rates. You need to also ensure that your staff are trained appropriately and in accordance with food and health safety requirements.


You now have a solid starting point to opening your very own cafe. Following these useful tips will ensure that you are starting your business legally and ethically. You can also check out these helpful guides on drawing up a business plan and food handling requirements. If you feel like you need personalised assistance, contact a business lawyer.

Have more questions? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.

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