How to Budget Effectively for a Small Café Fitout

Blog / October 1, 2020

Whether you’re starting a café business from scratch or you’re just looking to renovate an existing space, you’ll need to tackle a fitout to achieve the desired outcome. Small cafés with ten or fewer patrons are becoming more and more popular amongst shop owners, and rightfully so. They allow clients to bring their business dreams to life whilst sticking to a more realistic budget. That said, it’s easy to overspend on a café fitout especially if it’s your first time doing so. Here is how you can budget effectively for a small café fit out to reap the full benefits without going too overboard.

Keeping things simple

Just because you have a small café, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a great fitout. Small cafés can operate just fine even when they’re smaller than 10 square metres. The only thing that matters is how you plan the fitout that works best with the space you have.

Take for example Micro-cafe, Double Mac Espresso in Surry Hills, Sydney. Known for being the smallest café in the city, it’s only 1.5 metres by 2 metres large but yet is fully functional and offers a tantalising selection of in-house sandwiches and great coffee. This functionality has a lot to do with a smart fitout that considers not only the dining space but also the kitchen and the point of sales.

Some people think that having 10 or less seating is a bit of a compromise, but in reality, it offers plenty of benefits to a small café. You get to save up on fitout costs and it cuts down the long-term expenses by a lot.  By offering a “takeaway only” service, you won’t need to spend on additional staff for table service and cleanup.

Depending on what sort of fitout you choose, if customers are simply ordering and collecting their food from the counter, the need for staff is significantly reduced. Not only does this save on costs, but it also provides valuable space which can be utilised for other important matters.

Using recycled materials

Using recycled materials is a cost-effective way of fitting out your small café whilst being environmentally friendly. This also gives a unique flair to your café where you can demonstrate a bit of creativity on your end. A great example of this is Little Nuffield Café in Auckland, New Zealand. The owners initially wanted a stainless steel benchtop for their café but they were a little tight on the budget. Instead of overspending for that, they opted for a recycled roofing tin with a sealing coat to achieve a metal finish.

A lot of small cafés love using recycled materials like timber because it’s versatile and cost-efficient. Recycled timber can be used to fashion counter spaces and joinery/shelving. It offers a great, worn, organic look that competes with more expensive materials.

Wants vs. needs

When fitting out a small café, of the best ways to keep costs down is to take a look at your space and identify the “must-have” vs. the “would like to have”. This lets you prioritise things that are far more important and functional to your café which reduces the likelihood of overspending.

Whether it be as simple as painting brick walls instead of drywalling them, these are the things to consider when working with a budget. Many shopfitters have used this approach throughout their career and have seen incredible results with their fitouts. Once again, the less-is-more approach goes back to keeping things clean and simple.

For example, if your café’s original flooring is usable, then you can accommodate this by throwing a can or two of varnish and use some old fashioned elbow grease to achieve your desired finish. It keeps costs down and leaves a few of the old features intact to remind you of what your vision has achieved. Tomboy Café in Melbourne shows that by reusing both the floor and wall style of its space, the end result can be aesthetically pleasing and cost-effective at the same time.

There really is no reason as to why a small caf’ can’t come out of the fitout process with the same style and functionality as a larger café. Well-fitout micro-cafes are becoming a huge trend and are making it easier for the Average Joe to fulfil their dreams of being a full-fledged café’ owner.

With small spaces, it’s good to remind yourself that everything must have a reason to be there. The most effective small-space fitouts are created using this method of thinking. You can tell if an owner has themed their café all by themselves when it creates a refreshing experience for the customers. Not to mention, when they’re in the right place, you’ll really see the café draw in a loyal customer base. They know how to make their customer’s coffee exactly how they want it, and this gives a truly homey feeling that no large dining operation can replicate. It’s for these reasons that micro-cafés are just as great as larger cafés, especially when it comes to a well-executed fitout process.