How to Start a Take Out Food Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Revel Blog | Sydney Kida | April 6, 2022 |

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The take out food industry has experienced a massive boom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. During the second and third quarters of 2020, the top four leading food delivery apps in the U.S. saw their revenues rise by $3 billion.

Even as life begins to return to normal, take out restaurant ideas continue to grow in prominence nationwide. What does this mean for the humble restaurant owner trying to get their business back on its feet?


Dine-In vs. Take Out: How Take Out is Changing the Restaurant Business

Take out (sometimes spelled takeout and take-out) has altered the restaurant business irrevocably. While people like to point to the COVID-19 pandemic, take out changed the industry long before coronavirus became a thing.

Perhaps the main reason for takeout’s growth is the ease of ordering. Food delivery apps require a couple of clicks, and your order is already on its way. Giving people an entire list of choices and the option to order from the comfort of their sofas tends to encourage them to eat off premises vs. dining on site.

The younger generation of millennials is also driving growth among take out providers. They boast the most spending power and lean toward take out delivery more than other generations. For example, USA Today reported that 77% of millennials ordered food delivery compared to 51% of other diners during a three-month period in 2018.

Online OrderingFood delivery services and restaurateurs are also expanding their services to accommodate this new demand. No longer are takeout-powered businesses confined to major metropolitan areas. You can find them practically anywhere.

Figuring out how to start a take out food business is, therefore, a viable option for companies looking to increase their revenues.

Finally, it’s essential to look at how people spend their evenings. If more people choose to watch Netflix over a night on the town, why wouldn’t they also order dinner at home?

How to Start a Take Out Food Business

Deciding how to start a new take out restaurant requires following several defined steps to put the infrastructure for success in place.

Before going into a takeout restaurant business plan, here are some tips for a takeout restaurant and what makes it successful.

Step One – Plan Your Concept

Take out restaurant design ideas must be optimized entirely for delivery, as this is your primary revenue generator.

Your kitchen’s layout, storage, and logistics must focus on the two key metrics of time and temperature. Get one of them wrong, and you risk killing any repeat business. Perfect your take out restaurant menu ideas and make sure they are optimized for time and temperature.

Most restaurants will maintain smaller menus for this reason. Not everything is suited for take out.

You should also think about your ingredients. Group dishes by the ingredients required to keep your workflow efficient. Remember, unlike dine-in customers, take out customers value speed over everything else.

Step Two – Choose Your Niche

Identify any gaps in the market. If Italian pizza take out restaurants have saturated your area, the chances are it’s not a wise investment.

Think about who you want to cater to and figure out an image of your ideal customer. Some examples of niches include:

  • Students
  • Office workers
  • People with special diets
  • Seniors with limited mobility

Talk to people on the street and find out what your local area lacks. Your take out restaurant design ideas may not be 100% unique, but you still need that underserved market.

Step Three – Set Up Your Physical Operations

Going through registering your business and applying for any licenses you might need in your state may take weeks, so think about these administrative burdens in advance.

Once you have your concept and your menu, it’s time to build the physical gears that will keep your take out food business turning.


Here are the primary considerations you’ll need to think about:

  • Kitchen – Where will you produce your food? You may want to consider a low-rent area that's close to a densely populated place. Make sure it has the space and layout conducive to producing your unique menu.
  • Point of Sale (POS) – Technology helps you to run your business. Choose a POS platform that allows you to easily take online orders, manage the payment side, and ensure your kitchen/delivery service runs efficiently.
  • Staffing – How many staff do you need to run your kitchen? How much will it cost you to maintain that staff per month?
  • Logistics – Do you have a place set up for collection or your own fleet of delivery drivers?

These tasks take longer than most people expect, so avoid setting a launch date before everything is in place. Furthermore, your state may have special requirements regarding commercial kitchen certifications and any required health inspections.

Step Four – Choose Your Distribution Providers

Getting your food to your customers requires a reliable distribution provider. Figuring out how to start a take out food business requires you to take the time to research and factor in distribution costs.

Whether you decide to opt for a third-party provider and eat the commissions or invest in creating your own delivery fleet is up to you.

Remember, your needs might change, so you can alter your distribution model later.

Step Five – Market Your Business

Take out businesses rely on the digital space to gain brand exposure. Craft a unique story that allows you to stand out from the crowd. What makes your take out restaurant special?

Focus on aspects like SEO, social media presence, and how you will convince those first customers to give you a try. Marketing begins from day one of coming up with your business idea. Save money during those initial months by drumming up interest before you officially open for business.

Innovative Take-Out Restaurant Ideas for Your Future Food Business

Staying on the cutting edge of the food industry is what will allow your business to thrive. Think about how you can integrate new ideas into your growing take out business for a better customer experience.

Here are some great tips for a takeout business in the future:

  • Make-Your-Own Meals – Offer care packages, such as a build-your-own pizza kit to make ordering take out more fun and tailored to the customer.
  • Creative Naming – Get creative with your naming, according to whatever is trendy at the time. Make people smile and make your meals memorable.
  • Loyalty Schemes – Promote repeat businesses by bringing the classic retail loyalty scheme to the world of take out.
  • Build Relationships – Handwritten notes, postcards, and formal loyalty programs help to bring the human touch to digital transactions.
  • The Unconventional – Consider going beyond burgers and pizza and opting for more unconventional take out foods, such as omelets, steaks, and special sauce.

Think outside the box by examining your competitors and looking at what they aren’t doing. There are always openings for getting creative.

Starting Your Takeout Restaurant Business Plan

The pillar of how to start a take out food business is your business plan. Think of it as your professional roadmap to success.

Even if you already have a brick-and-mortar restaurant, your business plan provides direction, alignment, and orientation.

Take Out Restaurant Description

Outline what your take out place is going to be. Define the style of cuisine, the options available, the legal structure of your business, and operating hours.

It’s also the time to come up with a prototype menu. Include no more than 10-15 dish ideas at this stage.

Target Audience Analysis

Conduct market analysis of your target market. Form an image of your ideal customer, such as how old they are, their spending power, professions, interests, and what they expect from a take out establishment.

Understanding your ideal customer will help you give them the experience they expect when ordering take out.

Competitor Analysis

You also need to know who you’re coming up against, as you did with your target audience. A complete competitor analysis will examine a sampling of restaurants in your area.

Don’t just focus on the competitors offering the same cuisine as you. It helps to know what options customers have in the area, how much they charge, and the most common complaints they receive.

Either go out into the community and place orders yourself or make use of online reviews to find out more.

Organizational Sections

Labor, facilities, and associated financial costs and projections should also form a crucial part of your business plan. These are the hard figures that will tell you about the viability of your business and whether you need to make any changes.

You will also have a section dedicated to marketing, branding, and delivery models. The organizational sections are where you delve deep into the nuts and bolts of your business.


Starting a take out business for the first time doesn’t need to be intimidating. You’re moving into a booming industry with tremendous growth potential. How you establish your business and the tools you adopt will define whether you are a success or a failure.

Help with income stream diversification and creating a better customer experience with the revolutionary restaurant POS from Revel Systems®.

Find out why so many take out establishments are using Revel to transform their organizations by requesting a free product demo now.