Would a takeout only place be cheaper than restaurant?

I know a few of you have restaurants and wanted your take on this. Is a takeout only place more profitable than a sit down restaurant? I don’t think a place like a fancy steak house or French restaurant would be good at takeout but I’m talking mid grade, like 20 bucks or less.

The places that were set up for takeout only seem to be flourishing here and a lot of the restaurants are only now starting to pick up, only a few.

Seems like you could get away with a lot less workers with takeout

Rent would surely be a lot cheaper

Probably there is a tiny house that makes plate lunches a poke bowls, it is only big enough for takeout

Open a Food Truck

i own a few food retail outlets. im in shopping centres. i have 2 sitdowns with seating ~80 people ea, i also have 2 that are in a “foodcourt/market” area with communal seating.
your question can be answered with “depends”. its not as simple as saying one is more profitable than another. it depends a lot on traffic numbers, rent, staffing, food costs. so many variables.
the general trend the last few years has been fine dining, high end has become very difficult to make money. lots have closed down. food costs have blown out.
qsr (quick service restaurants) that are more casual and have lower operating costs are as a whole generally easier to run and are usually profitable. but more profitable? again, no exact answer as there are lots of expensive restaurants that have long waiting lists and therefore are very successful.
from my viewpoint, i wont open a formal restaurant. too much effort and work needed to stay relevant. qsr is just an easier and more flexible business model imo


Not the same level you’re talking about, but one of the most successful / fastest growing fast food franchises here in the south (I’m in NC) is a burger place called Cook Out.
Now, they admittedly have a few things that separate them from the rest (especially their milkshakes), but one big thing is that they are specifically designed to have no seating. Instead, they’re located in long, rectangular buildings such that they can have a drive-thru on both sides.

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It’s interesting, the dine in restaurant would have way more overhead, but they get to earn the fat margins by selling alcohol and even non-alcoholic drinks. Those margins are way more than the actual food.


Even cheaper is doing what Papa Murphy’s does and not bake the pizza so they can take food stamps.



and again it all depends. people arent sitting around talking for an hour or two. your turnover is way up, but a lot of places lose so much money off lost liquor sales. theres so many variables.

With take out only you’re not going to be selling alcohol which is big money maker for some places.

But like others in the thread commented it depends on tons of things like locations, for type ect

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you can. at the beginning of lockdown, i cut back to just cooks, two servers to bag up to-gos & two hosts up front handling it all. as opposed to a staff of say, thirty people

In the late 80’s, I took a Hotel & Restaurant Management course at the college I was attending. The MAIN thing I learned, is that I wanted no part of that career!

Over and over, the professor stressed that a successful restaurant owner will make about 6-cents from every dollar spent by a customer. I suspect that a to-go only place should be able to exceed that value.

But then, I’ve been shocked by food trucks that charge more for an item than do sit-down restaurants.

Many food trucks face more regulations than restaurants. I know in NC you need a commercial health department inspected kitchen for you food trucks. It’s an insane expense that have led many food trucks to open brick and mortar store fronts since they need the kitchen space anyway

The problem with takeout only is that you will have to rely on the delivery apps because most people won’t leave the house to pickup their food. Uber and doordash charge 30% of the SALE, meaning you have virtually no profit margin. However, if you were to do delivery you would have high overhead in insurance costs, payroll etc, so if done right you can keep your head above water.

If you are doing a takeout place, my advice is to do it in a bar district or college town, or a heavily populated area. You only need 800-900 sq feet with no seating. Your big expense will be marketing so people will be aware you are even there. Make sure you are well prepared, many fail in this business.

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End the thread here

Nailed it

I’ll also add that when covid hit. We were able to transition to takeaway only easily as we already offered it.nout delivery platforms doubled in orders. But of course the margins r slimmer. It was basically about maintaining cash flow, profit fell down in priority. Nwe also saved as less labour, no rent paid and also some govt aid

Yeah, you need indentured servants like the Chinese places. And don’t forget to turn off the air conditioning in the summer, that shit is expensive.

Big Island?

Yeah I worked for one of the large chains and the franchisees would lose money on delivery and hated doing it (not only lost money but poor customer experience both for delivery and in store because of delivery drivers and orders getting in the way) but they were bullied into it. The franchiser (the company I worked for) loved it though because they’re paid a percentage of gross and they don’t care if franchisee makes a profit or not. Plus also consider it exposure being on there from marketing perspective.

Ironic thing is then independents follow what the big guys are doing…not understanding why they are doing it and thinking they do it because it’s profitable when it’s not for most of them.

Food trucks capitalize on this concept but the food you typically order takeout is typically lower priced items.

Dine in restaurants have to deal with table turnover but also have high price entrees and alcohol to drive the cost up.

Takeout would have less overhead but I’d guess lower revenue and higher net profit percentage over dine in but lower overall dollars.