How to diversify your income – for cafes, restaurants and bars


If you only have one source of sales (like daily cafe, restaurant or bar sales), you’re more vulnerable to seasonal ups and downs than if you have three or four. It makes sense. So how could you add more income streams, without renting more space or doubling your workload?

Here’s a bunch of suggestions, for restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs – it’s time to spread your wings!

  • Use a Delivery Service – with an existing sytem like UberEats, Menulog or Deliveroo. Not for everyone, and we have some suggestions on how you can make it work.
  • Organise your own Deliveries – there are ‘white label’ services that let you set it up yourself. In Australia, check what’s offered by TakeAwaySolutions – put up your own ordering page on your website, and it processes and notified of customer orders just like the well-known services. And you don’t pay 30-35% commission.
  • Take Away from your existing menu – food, desserts, whole cakes or catering trays. Doing this already? Great – how about adding kerbside collection to make it even easier for customers to call by and have it brought out to them.
  • Gift and Souvenir Shopping – if you have space at the counter, add some caps, t-shirts, coffee mugs and low-cost gifts. Make sure it looks as good as a boutique – light and bright designs will sell more than something with just a logo, and keep the price reasonable – they are also ‘walk-around advertising’.
  • Upmarket Shopping –upscale restaurants can offer quality gifts like aprons, linen t-towels or cookbooks. See how they do at the Al Brown Group – great gifts for food lovers and business colleagues.
  • Gift Vouchers – make it easy for people to manage the whole transaction online. They prefer not to ring, and may be doing it when you’re not even open. Easy money.
  • Cooking or Cocktail Classes – they can be hands-on sessions or demonstrations. This is a good skill for a chef or bartender to add to their repertoire – help them with practise sessions, and attend classes run by others to see how they’re organised. Manage the bookings online with a service like Eventbrite.
  • Dinner Events – organised around wine, food, craft beer, sporting awards or a guest speaker. As these events become regular, they will build a following. Use an online booking service to streamline reservations and payment.
  • Meeting Room Hire – these are an easy way to make money. Organisers want a quiet space, plenty of coffee and comfortable furniture. It’s now expected that you also have a flat screen and microphone available – these are not expensive to buy.
  • Out of Hours Kitchen Hire – for caterers or small-scale food manufacturers who need a licensed kitchen for a few hours each week. With the right agreement about sharing of the space, this can be a steady source of income.
  • Membership – is there a way for people to pay a subscription and receive special treatment or offers? The Coffee Club’s annual $25 membership gives you free second coffees and food discounts, plus prizes and special offers.
  • Sales in Advance – buy the $20 coffee card and save $1 on each of your next 20 coffees. Or pay $20 and receive 7 coffees for the price of 5. This works well in busy office areas.
  • Charity Sales Offer – support non-profits by offering them 20% of the sales for large bookings they organise on a quiet night. The more they sell, the more you both make. Works well if this is a genuine ongoing commitment, and the non-profit is supported by people who would be your type of customer.
  • Your own Food Truck – add a vehicle for extra sales at events. Many of the new food truck licenses are being taken on by existing foodservice operators, who want an outlet for additional sales. You already have the kitchen – where could you sell more of your food?

Many of these events or services can introduce new people to your business - through a special event, a food delivery, or bar customers finding you through entertainment. They like what they see, and come back for the regular offer. And you like the extra source of weekly income! Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions