How to Start a Restaurant Business in Kenya

We often find ourselves sitting among friends, visualizing, and fantasizing about starting a business. While many successful stories may make it look like it is easy and straightforward, only a few seasoned entrepreneurs know the pain and agony behind the failure of a business.

Sometimes it’s the financial constraints, sometimes it is the lack of knowledge and expertise, and sometimes it is plain bad luck. 

But unlike many other businesses, when it comes to opening a restaurant in Kenya, the chances of becoming a success are very high. The reason is straightforward, as well as relatable.

In this 21st century when a lot of people work dozens of hours a week, they want to fill their tummies without having the burden of cooking and washing dishes.

Lunches and dinners now serve as the only reasons for a break. That is why the restaurant industry is booming. But like any other thing, it is also prone to failure; that is why it is essential to plan well to reduce the chances of failure. 

In this article, we will talk about how to plan and start a restaurant business in Kenya effectively and efficiently.


Starting a restaurant requires a lot of preliminary planning. No matter how much you wish, you cannot just start it without properly planning it out.

One of the biggest reasons restaurants fail within the first few months despite having great food is lack of planning. If your business’ planning scale is done right, there is nothing significant that you have to worry about after that.

Here are a few things one needs to plan before starting your own restaurant business:

The Target Market

The most crucial step of planning is choosing the right target market; the people you are looking to attract to your restaurant.

A lot of restauranteurs have a hard time accepting the fact that their restaurant will not be able to please everyone. That is why it is better to focus on a specific niche.

You can target people based on their demographics, income class, diet preferences, or even ethnicity (for example starting an Indian restaurant).

Concept of the Restaurant 

Will your restaurant have dine-ins only or takeaways? Or both? Will your restaurant be upscale, quick service, or midscale?

Usually, fast-food restaurants are also known as quick-service restaurants because the food is prepared quickly and often charged less than other restaurant types.

Quick service restaurants are for casual hangouts and, as the name suggests, for quick and relatively cheaper food.

Moreover, midscale restaurants, as the name suggests, fall somewhere between quick-service and upscale restaurants. They have a variety of food options and are not limited to fast food only. Such restaurants either have waiters who serve the customers on their tables or customers take their food from the counter, also known as self-service. 

Upscale restaurants usually focus on the quality of their cuisines and are relatively pricier than the other two.


While all the steps are essential, this one probably the most. What will be on your menu? What will your restaurant service to its customers? Will seafood be the concept of your foodservice?

Here are a few restaurant and menu ideas and concepts you can choose from:


A steakhouse falls in the upscale or midscale level of restaurants. While the setting is casual, it is a perfect spot for family hangouts and sometimes, even for friends for celebrations.

If you wish to know how to start a small restaurant as a steakhouse, you must make sure the whole ambiance and aura are that of a steakhouse too, which is formal but not too formal. 


When it comes to the concept of having a pizzeria, you have two options. You can either start a small-scale restaurant that is casual and has self-service.

This type of restaurant is known for having pizza as its specialty, and people go there only for that, along with some other Italian food items on the menu. The other option is to have a menu that is not entirely focused on pizzas. 


Bakeries are on the boom too. Now we see many malls and superstores having in-house bakeries. While this market is competitive, the point to think upon is, who does not love bakeries and their aroma?


To ponder on the question, how to start a small restaurant in Kenya, you need to put together your finances first.

Location entirely depends on how much capital you have, how much you’re willing to spend and whether the business can realistically generate enough income to pay rent.

You can easily find great places on low rents with big and clean kitchens to prepare great food. 

Similarly, the kitchen has to be one of the most important parts of the entire layout when it comes to a restaurant. Check out this article to learn more about what you need to open your restaurant.

You can find some good quality commercial kitchen equipment for sale in Kenya here, including ovens, deep fryers, stainless steel tables, baking equipment, and much more.

Starting a restaurant business is not easy; however, there is nothing that can’t be achieved with proper planning. That is why it is said that if you have planned it well, there is nothing else in your way to success.