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How to Start Your Own Pancake House

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "in 2008, there were 546,300 privately owned food service and drinking places across the United States." Even the smallest town often has some form of eating establishment. Breakfast food restaurants, as a niche market, have developed a following throughout the day. A few large, national restaurant chains specialize in pancakes and waffles. You can open one yourself with some general restaurant experience, business savvy and careful planning.

Find a niche in the pancake house market. If you are locating your restaurant in a large city, you will have significant competition from franchised giants in the market. Creatively design your menu and atmosphere to be a memorable eating experience for your patrons. Find an idea that stands out from the rest, such as offering 20 types of syrup or an innovative menu item such as a deep-fried pancake "pig in a blanket".

Write a thorough business plan that not only explains how your business will operate and expand, but shows you understand the restaurant business. List industry-related concerns, describe cash flow projections and detail general business functions.

Apply for financing with your completed business plan. It is common to need between $100,000 and $500,000 or more, depending on the equipment you need and the cost of buying or leasing your location. Allow for working capital because it takes time to train employees, design your space, and open.

Apply for an Employer Identification Number at and a state sales tax license at your Secretary of State. These allow you to hire employees and set up a business checking account to pay contractors, food suppliers and buy supplies from your loan proceeds.

Buy your grills, restaurant supplies, cookware and other necessary items. Buy and install tables, booths, a sound system and your point-of-sale system.

Install a communication system to advise cooks of orders. This might be automated or by paper, but it must work well and allow detailed orders.

Design your menu professionally. Determine your required profit margin, and price your menu items accordingly, taking into account marketing and daily specials. Print in full color and with lamination to protect it from being soiled.

Hire professional cooks, and solicit them for menu ideas. Hire greeting staff and table attenders. Require solid customer service skills in these positions.

Contact the health inspector's office at your city hall to inspect your location and explain the future inspection process. Contact your city government for your merchant's permit and general business inspection.

Practice efficiency in buying in bulk. Stock large quantities of staples such as flour and syrup by buying more when the price is lower. Forbes magazine suggests estimating a 5 percent profit margin after food, payroll and marketing efforts.


Survey your customers on menu items before and after you are open. Study your customer, and market to that demographic.


Contact your insurance agent to buy industry-specific insurance. Maintain strong cleanliness standards as fines and related bad publicity can close your business.