Business Overview

Diners are general watering holes for locals, so they have the potential to become mainstays in any given town. Restaurant owners can distinguish themselves by a variety of factors: speed, quality of service, price, restaurant theme and menu items. Successful diners are known for giving fast, friendly service.

Who is this business right for?

Owners should have some experience in the food industry. The more positions a person has held in the restaurant world, the more likely it is they will be able to oversee, delegate and perform the many tasks on a to-do list. Owners may not perform a lot of customer service — they may leave the bulk of this to their staff. However, they will need people skills when handling their employees and for any interactions they may have with customers.

What happens during a typical day at a diner?

Owners may find a general day consisting of the following tasks:

  • Hiring and managing employees
  • Overseeing the cooking process
  • Designating and coordinating shifts for all staff
  • Ordering inventory and food supplies
  • Performing inspections to ensure quality and cleanliness
  • Preparing budgets
  • Building and equipment maintenance
  • Testing and experimenting with new menu items

What is the target market?

An ideal customer is someone who lives in the area, and one who is likely to establish a good rapport with the serving staff. Once a person has positive associations with the diner, they are more likely to bring their friends and to return again and again. Casual eateries are generally profitable only when they’re able to establish a good foundation of ‘regulars.’

How does a diner make money?

Diners make money by charging people for food with a profit margin. The cost of the food items must cover rent, equipment, staff salaries, and restaurant fixtures. Restaurants have some of the highest overhead of any business, so diners may operate at a deficit for many months before starting to see profit.

What is the growth potential for a diner?

Diners aren’t generally known for being large restaurants, though there are exceptions to this rule. A diner may expand in terms of physical space (e.g., buying the building next door and expanding the seating area), or they may become a franchise. Should your diner become extremely popular, with long wait times and enthusiastic prospective customers, then it’s recommended you open another location to accommodate the demand.

You may also wish to start a franchise. For example, popular chains like Denny’s or Ruby’s allow owners to use their name and menu to establish a business. The name recognition and built-in advertising can give owners a leg-up when it comes to getting their first customers.