The food industry is one that seamlessly blends elements of art, cultural expression, personal passion, and the provision of a necessity that everyone also enjoys. Entering the food industry is your opportunity to create and/or sell food and drinks that people enjoy that are also direct representations of yourself in a personal and authentic fashion. That's why we created this curated list of our favorite food business ideas.
Best Food Ideas
1. FAMILY-STYLE RESTAURANT
Family style restaurants are those that design their menus and decor to attract families. Meal portions are typically on the larger side so everyone can share and taste a variety of flavors. Family restaurants are likely to become community gathering places where people can take their children and meet other families who are looking for some wholesome fun.
Owners should have a deep understanding and respect for what American families want today. They should also have a knack for bringing people together, and a desire to create a strong sense of community in the restaurant.
Learn how to start a family-style restaurant.
2. FAST FOOD RESTAURANT
A fast food business sells affordable food to customers in as little time as possible. These restaurants provide service by way of drive-thrus as well as traditional sit-down meals. Some customers opt to bring their order with them in a “to go” fashion.
This business is quite popular as it provides tasty food in a quick, low-cost manner. Open a fast food business and you will provide people with an affordable means of eating, staying energized, and feeling fulfilled.
If you are looking for a way to make people happy, satisfy cravings and provide people with the sustenance they need to work hard, you should consider opening a fast food business. Fast food restaurants are ideal for those who enjoy making and serving delicious food that people of all income levels can enjoy. This food business is your chance to improve the mood, satisfaction and energy levels of those in your community as well as those passing through town.
Learn how to start a fast food restaurant.
3. FOOD KIOSK BUSINESS
Does serving lots of customers their favorite treats sound like a fabulous day to you? A food kiosk business may be right up your alley. Generally situated in high traffic locations like malls, amusement parks or office towers, you may be selling exquisite chocolate bonbons, freshly squeezed juice and smoothies, or perhaps a little bit of everything.
This venture requires a low capital investment with the possibility of rapid growth built right in. Many food kiosks are owned and operated by individuals who love providing a delicious treat to a wide variety of customers. You will likely need to work long hours on your feet and will be materially involved in every aspect of the business.
Learn how to start a food kiosk business.
4. FOOD TRUCK BUSINESS
A food truck business is a restaurant on wheels. The owner prepares meals or snacks and serves customers from a truck, van or trailer. The business owner should have culinary talents and the ability to quickly and efficiently serve tasty meals from a contained space, attract hungry customers and deal with the business obligations of obtaining all necessary licenses and permits.
You should love foodservice and customer relations. It’s also a business that requires careful attention to details. It’s advantageous if you have work experience in food preparation in a commercial kitchen and know how to safely store ingredients and prepare tantalizing menu items. You’ll have to research business licenses and permits in the city and state in which you’ll do business and create a brand image that encourages first-time diners to try your offerings.
Learn how to start a food truck business.
5. GOURMET POPCORN SHOP
People in the United States eat a lot of popcorn. Gourmet popcorn shop businesses make popcorn in many different flavors, ranging from common flavors (e.g. chocolate, caramel, cheddar, etc.) to obscure ones (e.g. Oreo, Buffalo wing, etc.). These flavored popcorns are sold for immediate enjoyment and as packages that customers can gift to others.
Anyone who is passionate about popcorn and creative in the kitchen might enjoy running a gourmet popcorn shop business. While making popcorn is a fairly straightforward process, coming up with delicious and original flavors requires creativity.
Learn how to start a gourmet popcorn shop.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services
And, use our free tools to help start your business:
- Use our Business Name Generator for help brainstorming your new venture’s name
- Learn how to form an LLC, one of the best business structures for food businesses
- Use our free business plan generator to start planning your business today
- Get your unique logo with our free Logo Maker and start branding your business
- After finding your perfect idea learn how to start a busines
6. GROCERY STORE
Grocery stores sell food and other household items. Often called supermarkets, grocery stores are go-to sources for a home’s food needs. They similarly sell important kitchen utensils, disposable items, cleaning materials, candy, alcohol, soft drinks, and self-care items. Today’s grocery stores are great resources for many products, making them important local resources.
Any individual who enjoys point-of-sale work, food, management, or finance can open a grocery store. The grocery business is competitive, but those who have a knack for making strong selling plans, capital-intensive business plans, or retail plans definitely have a shot. A grocery store owner should understand food very well, and they should have a passion for providing the best food around town.
Learn how to start a grocery store.
7. HOT SAUCE BUSINESS
For many years, the hot sauce niche has enjoyed a loyal and growing following. Hot sauce businesses make hot sauces for people who like their food with extra heat.
Since 2000, the hot sauce industry has grown by 150 percent. In 2017, the industry is forecast to bring in $1.3 billion. With the major players (i.e. Tabasco, Frank’s Red Hot and Huy Fong’s Sriracha) only accounting for one-third of the industry, there’s plenty of opportunity for smaller hot sauce businesses.
Learn how to start a hot sauce business.
8. ICE CREAM PARLOR
We’ve all seen the joy on people’s faces as they enter an ice cream shop and peruse the various flavors. There are few who don’t enjoy a scoop of their favorite flavor on a hot summer day. Running your own ice cream parlor is hard work, but is a fulfilling career for the entrepreneur with a sweet tooth.
Whether you decide to serve your own creations in-house or plan to serve a ready-made brand, an ice cream shop offers a great opportunity for those who love to get creative with food. The hours are long, but bringing people together over their love of something sweet makes the work you put in worth it.
Learn how to start an ice cream parlor.
9. INTERNATIONAL FOOD STORE
International food stores, also called international grocery stores, are stores that offer imported food. This imported food ranges across many countries, different nationalities, and dish types. International food stores usually stock food, drinks, alcohol, candy, and condiments. Some international food stores also stock international commodities, like toys and kitchen instruments.
The international food business is perfect for any business person who loves exotic foods. The ideal international food store owner has a fine taste for salads, sandwiches, picnic lunches, specialty drinks, desserts, and cooked meals. Normally, an international food store owner is able to pinpoint the nationality of different foods. Deli-lovers, bakers, and café operators normally make good international food operators.
Learn how to start an international food store.
10. JAM BUSINESS
A jam business makes different flavors of jams and jellies, which are packaged into jars for distribution. Businesses may sell their jams to customers directly, or they might sell to retailers. These spreads are put on toast, used in cookies and cakes, and incorporated into many other foods.
Jam businesses make different flavors of jams and jellies, which are sold to customers either directly or through retailers. Anyone who likes canning and jarring may enjoy running a jam business. Jams and jellies are frequently packaged in jars, and mot small jam businesses jar their jams by hand.
Learn how to start a jam business.
11. MEAL-TO-GO BUSINESS
Meals-to-go businesses prepare and deliver home-cooked meals to busy customers who prefer to save time on cooking and grocery shopping. They can afford to bring home or have delivered great meals for their family. What they do not have is the time it takes to find and select quality ingredients, spend the time cooking the meal, and then prepare a meal that is hot and fresh for their families.
The most successful meals-to-go organizations provide delicious and nutritious food according to diet planning that moderates the unhealthy choices and leans towards healthier choices. This is where the big successes in this business are now coming from. Companies that provide these great meals are making records profits.
Learn how to start a meals-to-go business.
12. OLIVE OIL STORE
Olive oil stores stock a wide selection of hard-to-find premium olive oils, olive oil-based products, and related gourmet products like spices, bottles of vinegar, and cured meat. Retailers often hold classes and tasting to educate their customers about the different types of olive oil available and how they can use the products at home.
Foremost, an olive oil store is like any other retail store. A potential owner needs to have a background in managing a retail operation. Due to the business' tiny niche, a new owner should also have extensive knowledge about olive oil and olive oil-related products, besides a real passion for the products.
Learn how to start an olive oil store.
This type of business serves prepared food and drinks and caters to consumers who don’t want to cook or who want the experience of dining out. Some restaurants specialize in one type of cuisine, like Italian or Mexican, while other restaurants serve general “American” fare, like diners. The market depends entirely on the type of restaurant, restaurant concept, and the average price per menu item.
A restaurant is a fast-paced business and very stressful to run. As such, it's best suited to people with excellent organization skills and entrepreneurs who have a passion for food. Restaurateurs often live a modest and hectic lifestyle. Because of this, it’s not a business for those who are easily stressed out or desire a “hands-off” business.
Learn how to start a restaurant.
Learn more about starting a business by visting the U.S. Small Business Administration.
14. SPICE BUSINESS
Spices are extremely popular, especially as the gourmet food trend continues to expand across the nation. People who understand how spices flavor food will do well in this business. Each spice has its own characteristics, and reacts differently to storage and the passage of time.
Without fully understanding the details, it's easy to make mistakes. But it’s equally important to understand how to work with different types of people. The spice business is largely built on relationships with the growers, distributors, and customers, so entrepreneurs should have a grasp on the art of compromise and negotiation.
Learn how to start a spice business.
15. PERSONAL CHEF BUSINESS
Personal chefs prepare a wide array of delicious and healthy food for individuals, businesses, and other organizations. Some of these foods are prepared ahead of time for consumption throughout the upcoming week or month. Certain dishes are prepared at the client's home or place of business and consumed right away.
This business is perfect for individuals who have a passion for tasty food and the cooking process. Those who are interested in creating fulfilling meals and healthy dishes that suit the nuanced palates of clients will thrive in this business.
Learn how to start a personal chef business.
16. TORTILLERIA BUSINESS
Tortilleria businesses produce all of the tortillas that people are eating. Most businesses specialize in either corn or flour tortillas, although a few have branched out into non-traditional specialty tortillas. (The information below focuses on corn and flour tortillerias, as these businesses are the most common.)
Anyone who likes Latino food, and especially Mexican food, may enjoy running a tortilleria. Not only do business owners get to make tortillas themselves, but they also meet many other people who like Mexican food through their work.
Learn how to start a tortilleria business.
Start a Food Business in Your State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia