What Business Owners Need to Know to Run a Successful Plant-Based Restaurant

October 16, 2023

Running a successful plant-based restaurant requires dedication, creativity, and a commitment to sustainability. By following these steps, restaurant owners can create wholesome vegan and plant-based menu items that satisfy customers' taste buds while contributing to a healthier planet.

Plant-based restaurants are becoming increasingly popular as more people seek healthy and environmentally-friendly dining options. The Plant Based Foods Association reports that plant-based foods can now be found on the menu of 48.4% of restaurants in the United States. Over the past decade, plant-based menu options have steadily increased by 62%, showing no signs of slowing down. The number of restaurants offering plant-based alternatives has grown consistently since 2012 and more than doubled in the past ten years.

More food service operators plan to increase plant-based options than remove them in 2023, making it essential for restaurants to incorporate vegan products or plant-based meat options. Are you looking to launch your plant-based restaurant or position yourself as a restaurant with plant-based options? Below are some factors to consider:

Concept, Menu Development, and Sourcing: Define what sets your plant-based menu apart. This could be focusing on locally sourced, organic ingredients, a specific cuisine style, or a creative and innovative menu. Slutty Vegan, Plant Power Fast Food, and Plant Burger are just some Appfront customers who thrive by offering creative and indulgent plant-based dishes. Using plant-based food vendors like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods ensures that vegan menu items mimic the flavors and textures of traditional fast food, making them appealing to a broad audience. 

Business Plan: Market Research shows that 36% of respondents said they would be willing to spend more when dining out to consume plant-based food rather than animal-based products. Before embarking on your menu creation journey, it's crucial to construct a detailed and thorough business plan encompassing all venture aspects. This includes calculating startup expenses, ongoing costs and forecasting revenue projections. Doing so will enable you to price your menu competitively and ensure the financial stability of your restaurant, as a well-crafted business plan is the cornerstone of any successful enterprise.

Marketing and Branding: In order to expand your restaurant's reach, it is recommended to create an online ordering website and a customized mobile app. Using Appfront, restaurants can easily customize apps to match their brand with pre-built templates and design elements, all without the need to code. Appfront also seamlessly integrates with existing POS systems, online ordering platforms, and loyalty programs to provide a smooth experience for owners and customers. With the help of social media marketing, businesses can attract more customers and establish a strong brand identity that truly reflects their values and vision. This way, restaurants can differentiate themselves from competitors and attract loyal customers who resonate with their brand story.

For example, the mission and vision behind Plant Power Fast Food are clear; their website reads: ‘WE RECOGNIZE THAT A DIETARY MODEL BASED ON ANIMAL AGRICULTURE IS INHERENTLY FLAWED: It causes unnecessary suffering for billions of animals, is devastating to the Earth’s ecosystems and is the root cause of ill health and disease for an increasingly large portion of our human family. We are committed to being part of the solution. By demonstrating the viability of a delicious plant-based, healthier alternative in the fast-food restaurant format, we seek to expose millions of consumers to new cruelty free and environmentally sustainable choices.’ 

In addition, in terms of a few basic do’s and don’ts, according to Food Business News: labels that call out ingredients’ origin may be evocative. For example, a Panera Bread branch in LA  increased sales solely by changing the name of its "low-fat vegetarian black bean soup" to "Cuban black bean soup" during a month-long naming test in January 2018. The restaurant's decision to highlight the soup's provenance resulted in a 13% increase in sales.

Customer Experience: Creating a great customer experience is critical to the success of any restaurant. To achieve this, focusing on providing exceptional service beyond just serving food is crucial. One effective way to achieve exceptional service is to listen to customer feedback and continuously improve your offerings. This includes regularly seeking out customer feedback and tracking metrics such as customer satisfaction scores. In doing so, you can identify areas to improve and make changes to enhance the overall dining experience. In addition to providing excellent service, hiring staff who share your passion for plant-based cuisine is essential. These individuals should be knowledgeable about the menu and sustainability practices and should be able to communicate this information effectively to customers. Training staff on these topics is also a great way to ensure they can provide the best possible service to patrons.

Running a successful plant-based restaurant requires dedication, creativity, and a commitment to sustainability. By following these steps, restaurant owners can create wholesome vegan and plant-based menu items that satisfy customers' taste buds while contributing to a healthier planet.

Achieving success in the ever-changing and competitive plant-based restaurant industry demands continuous adaptation and evolution. Whether introducing new menu items, improving customer service, or embracing the right tech stack, staying ahead of the curve is essential to thrive in this rapidly growing field. And when it comes to leveraging the right tech stack, Appfront has got you covered. From loyalty and subscription-based programs to native mobile apps and more, speak to one of our sales representatives today to get started.

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