1. What is healthy fast food?
Italian cuisine conjures up images of lasagna and linguini. French? Ratatouille. Mexican? Tacos. American? Would it be a stretch to say that fast food most represents American cuisine? It is perhaps sad, but true, that fast food is perhaps the first image conjured up in many people’s minds. And while that type of fare is hardly the kind of thing you might find in a website about social entrepreneurship with its myriad health, environmental, and social problems, rest assured. There is a better way. Pioneers like Amanda’s Restaurant in Berkeley, California, have shown that fast food can be healthy, affordable, and eco-friendly. The menu includes things like garden burgers, baked sweet potato fries, and locally sourced, humanely raised meats.
The market for healthy fast food can be quite large, and looks to be growing rapidly. For evidence, look at recent trends in fast food. KFC recently unveiled it’s baked chicken concept, trying to steer clear of trans fat oils, which are gaining a well-deserved reputation for negative health effects. Wendy’s similarly announced plans to cut all use of trans fats cooking methods. McDonald’s introduced a range of ready-to-go salads and marketed them to busy young women who want healthier fast food options. But as of yet, none of these chains has mastered the combination of flavor, freshness, and price the way a local business like Amanda’s has, mainly because their business models rely on huge economies of scale to mass-deliver meals that look exactly the same in Wichita as they do in Dallas. Locally owned businesses, therefore, could have an advantage in their ability to purchase locally, and get the freshest ingredients possible for their menu items.
2. What required knowledge or skills are necessary?
Food service experience is helpful to have to begin a healthy fast food restaurant. The menu is relatively simple, so food prep skills are fairly basic, but you’d save yourself a lot of time and money if you come in ready to hit the ground running.
3. How much money is required to start?
$$-$$$ (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)
4. What is the income potential?
$$$-$$$$ (on a scale of $ to $$$$$)
5. What is the best location for a healthy fast food restaurant?
Urban (best), semi-urban (very good), suburbs (good), rural (poor).
6. Three best questions to ask yourself to find out if this business is right for you (if you can answer yes to all three, this business might be for you):
Are you a good manager of people? This business will likely require you to coordinate several helpers during busy periods.
Do you have a passion for healthy food?
Are you well-organized enough to prepare an array of foods and keep them ready for a client rush (i.e., lunch hour)?
Interested in starting one in your community? Where do you begin? What permits do you need? Who is your target customer? How do you find them? What is the best use of your limited advertising dollars? What’s the best way to attract a great employee or volunteer? What does an average day look like? What strategic tips do veteran eco-entrepreneurs suggest for startups like you?
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