How To Start Restaurant And Fast Food Business In Africa

You should fancy the New Concept of Restaurants and Fast Food

As the size of Africa‘s cities grows, more people are having less time to cook their own food and are becoming more exposed to western diets. The ongoing rush of American and other western restaurant and fast-food franchises into Africa is glowing proof of the huge and lucrative potential of the food service industry on the continent.

At the moment, world famous brands like McDonald‘s, KFC, Johnny Rockets, Burger King, Subway and Domino‘s already have outlets in several countries on the continent (especially South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana etc.).

Apart from these international fast-food giants, Africa is experiencing a growth in its own home-grown fast-food brands. Nando‘s, Barcelos, Debonair‘s Pizza (all from South Africa) and Chicken Republic, Mama Cass and Tantalizer‘s (from Nigeria) are just a few of the local fast-food brands making inroads into the African fast-food space.

The business opportunities in this food delivery category include fast-food (or quick service restaurants), fine and casual dining restaurants which serve both local and international menus. There is also a growing trend of specialty restaurants in many of Africa‘s major cities.

Seafood, Thai, Chinese, Indian and French cuisines are also increasing in popularity across the continent. These businesses serve everything from pastries and pies to home-made meals and even offer convenience by delivering food to homes and offices.
The common options to get started in this space are to start your own food service business or to buy into a popular local or global franchise.

Business Concepts

There are various ways in which you can start a successful business in the restaurant and fast-food industry. And they vary greatly in the required startup capital – setting up your own restaurant being the most expensive of all. Here are some concepts that will work in Africa:

Setting up your own restaurant or coffee shop with an edge (remember you‘ve got to stand out!)

Tap into the many franchise opportunities international and African fast-food chains currently offer. Many are of these chains are ready to penetrate into new markets across Africa.

Running a food truck business offering convenient lunch or coffee opportunities in busy business districts, near shopping malls and markets, or on Africa‘s constructions sites.

A small takeaway outlet that follows the same principle as the food truck, but set up as a small food shop.

Niche Ideas

Depending on the country in which you want to set up your business you may consider the following niches:

Chinese and East Asian takeaway in boxes, one of the most popular fast-food options in the West that is hardly available in Africa.

A Salad, Sandwich and Soup Kitchen – offering healthy, quick, and cheap food.

A sushi or cocktail bar in a hip area could work in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, or Ghana with a high percentage of expats, tourists, and wealthy locals: for example, a Business Lounge offering networking opportunities alongside beverages and small snacks.

Top Countries & Policy Guidance

This is a business which will work across Africa, but issues around building permits or leasing would require your time and patience.

Action & Tips

Visit some of the most popular restaurants and food outlets in the country where you want to operate. Usually certain names always pop up. Visit those places and observe what they are doing right that may attract so much clientele. Location, menu, prices, interior design, unique selling points and business concepts are the things you need to look out for. And look at various target markets – who are the people that eat out a lot and what are their needs and wants?

Many African restaurants still lack a decent interior design. Make sure yours is unique and appropriate for your target market. You won‘t find many interior designers in Africa, but get one if you can.

This is a rather competitive industry, so make sure you have a strong unique selling point and brand.

Success Story

Desmond Mabuza – Fine Dining (South Africa)

Desmond Mabuza, born and raised in the relatively poor neighborhood of Soweto, is the only black South African who owns and successfully operates high-end restaurants that serve his country’s rich, famous, politically and socially-connected people. Originally trained as a civil engineer in the United States, Desmond returned before the end of the Apartheid era to start a small civil engineering firm.

After some years, he abandoned his engineering practice and invested the money he had made into the fine dining restaurant business, an industry only white South Africans were known to dominate and succeed in.

Despite his lack of experience in this market, Desmond was neither discouraged by the color of his skin or the daunting challenge ahead of him.

He went on to open his first restaurant in 2001 (at age 28) and currently owns two remarkably profitable and well-run restaurants – Signature and Wall Street – both situated in Johannesburg.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link