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How to Start an Empanada Business That Makes Money

An empanada business is a business that specializes in crafting and selling empanadas, a popular dish consisting of dough filled with various ingredients, typically meat, vegetables, cheese, or fruits.

Empanadas are often baked or fried and are enjoyed as a snack or meal in many Latin American and Spanish-speaking countries.

The business model can vary, from small-scale operations run by individuals or families to larger enterprises with multiple locations or distribution channels.

Empanada businesses may offer a variety of flavors and fillings to cater to different tastes and dietary preferences. Market research suggests a growing demand for ethnic foods globally, providing opportunities for empanada businesses to thrive.

Factors such as location, quality of ingredients, pricing, and marketing strategies play important roles in the success of an empanada business.

Steps on How to Start an Empanada Business

  1. Conduct Market Research

Conducting market research for an empanada business is important to understand your target market, competition, and industry trends.

First, you need to clearly outline the goals of your market research. Identify the specific information you need to gather, such as target demographics, customer preferences, competitive landscape, and market size.

Next, you are expected to determine who your ideal customers are. Consider factors such as age, gender, location, income level, lifestyle, and preferences.

This information will help you tailor your offerings and marketing strategies. Identify other empanadas or similar businesses in your area.

Study their offerings, pricing, branding, customer reviews, and market positioning. This analysis will help you understand your competitive advantages and areas for differentiation.

You should create questionnaires or interview scripts to gather information directly from your target market. Ask questions about their empanada preferences, buying habits, pricing expectations, and what they look for in an empanada experience. You can distribute surveys online, in person, or through social media channels.

Once you have gathered data from surveys, interviews, industry reports, and observations, analyze the information. Look for patterns, trends, and opportunities.

Use this knowledge to make informed decisions about your business model, menu, pricing, marketing strategies, and customer experience.

a. Who is the Target Market for the Empanada Business?
  • Individuals who enjoy exploring and trying new cuisines and flavors.
  • People looking for convenient and satisfying meal options that can be eaten on the go.
  • Parents seeking convenient and tasty meal options for themselves and their children.
  • College students looking for affordable and delicious snacks or meals between classes.
  • People attending festivals, markets, or events who are drawn to ethnic foods and street food offerings.
  • Those seeking healthier alternatives, as empanadas, can be made with wholesome ingredients and offer portion control options.
b. Is Empanada Business a Profitable Business?

Yes, but it is important to note that the profitability of an empanada business depends on factors like location, quality, and marketing.

Empanadas’ popularity, versatile menu options, and appeal to a diverse consumer base contribute to their potential profitability.

Market trends show a growing demand for ethnic foods, offering opportunities for expansion and success. However, profitability can vary based on competition, operational efficiency, and consumer preferences in specific regions.

c. Are There Existing Niches in the Industry?

No, there are no existing niches when it comes to empanada business.

d. Who are the Major Competitors?
  • Empanada Mama
  • Nuchas Empanadas
  • La Sonrisa Foods
  • Empanada Guy
  • Bolado Clothiers & Empanadas
  • 5411 Empanadas
  • Gaucho Empanadas
  • Empanada Loca
  • Chifles & Empanadas
  • Del Sur Empanadas
  • Boca Empanadas
  • Patty’s Empanadas
  • 787 Coffee
  • Empanada Dada
  • Que Chevere Empanadas
  • Empanada Kitchen
  • Bon Empanadas
  • Empanada Queen
  • Luna Empanadas
  • Empanada City.
e. Are There County or State Regulations or Zoning Laws for Empanada Business in the United States?

In the United States, county and state regulations, as well as zoning laws, can significantly impact empanada businesses. Food establishments are subject to health and safety regulations set by local health departments or state agencies.

These regulations typically cover food handling, storage, preparation, and sanitation standards to ensure public health and safety.

Additionally, businesses may need permits or licenses to operate legally, which can vary depending on the jurisdiction. Zoning laws also play a crucial role in determining where empanada businesses can operate.

Zoning ordinances designate specific areas for different types of land use, such as residential, commercial, or industrial. Businesses must comply with zoning regulations to ensure they are located in permitted areas.

Zoning laws may also dictate factors like parking requirements, signage restrictions, and operating hours, which can affect the feasibility and success of an empanada business.

Furthermore, empanada businesses may encounter additional regulations related to food safety inspections, food labeling, and employee health requirements. Compliance with these regulations is essential to avoid fines, penalties, or even closure of the business.

f. Is There a Franchise for Empanada Business?

There are no known national franchises solely dedicated to empanada businesses, however, some food franchises may offer empanadas alongside other menu items.

g. What Do You Need to Start an Empanada Business?
  • Business Plan
  • Legal Registration
  • Permits and Licenses
  • Commercial Kitchen Space
  • Equipment (ovens, mixers, etc.)
  • Quality Ingredients
  • Recipes and Menu Development
  • Branding and Marketing Materials
  • Packaging Supplies
  • Staffing (cooks, servers, etc.)
  • Point-of-Sale System
  • Insurance (liability, property, etc.).
  1. Choose a Memorable Business Name

When looking to start a business, before you can begin to file the necessary documents with the constituted authorities or start your website, it is necessary that you come up with a name that you will be recognized with.

It is essential that the name you come up with can easily be pronounced, is unique and easily memorable. Some of the catchy business name ideas suitable for an empanada business are;

Creative Empanada Business Name ideas
  • Queen Baylor® Empanada Restaurant, Inc.
  • Hannah Brent™ Empanada Restaurant, LLC
  • John Jackson© Empanada Shop, Inc.
  • Chloe Edgar® Empanada Café, Inc.
  • Shavannah Norman® Empanada Restaurant, LLC
  • Leandro April™ Empanada Café, Inc.
  • Jacquie Josh® Empanada Restaurant, Inc.
  • Jackline Signature™ Empanada Restaurant, LLC
  • Lisa Lawrence© Empanada Café, Inc.
  • Joy Andrew® Empanada Shop, Inc.
  • Joanne Phills® Empanada Shop, Inc.
  • Loreen Thomas™ Empanada Café, Inc.
  • Abby Bradon™ Empanada Restaurant, LLC
  • Amie McChord® Empanada Restaurant, Inc.
  • Ruth Boaz® Empanada Shop, Inc.
  • Deborah David© Empanada Café, Inc.
  • Houston Bennard® Empanada Restaurant, Inc.
  • Cynthia Who© Empanada Café, LLC
  • Keith Buttler® Empanada Café, Inc.
  • Princess Williams® Empanada Shop, Inc.
  1. Register Your Business

a. What Type of Business Structure is Best for Empanada Business?

The ideal business structure for an empanada business is determined by a variety of factors, including the size of the company, the number of owners, the level of personal liability the owners are ready to accept, and the tax consequences of the various business structures.

However, we normally recommend that you start the business with minimal liability. An LLC is a hybrid corporate form that provides the flexibility of a partnership while also providing its owners with limited liability protection.

An LLC can have one or more owners, and the owners are not personally accountable for the debts or liabilities of the business. This business form is frequently used for small to medium-sized organizations.

b. Steps to Form an LLC
  • Choose a Name for Your LLC.
  • File Articles of Organization.
  • Choose a registered agent.
  • Decide on member vs. manager management.
  • Create an LLC operating agreement.
  • Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements.
  • File annual reports.
c. What Type of License is Needed to Open an Empanada Business?
  • Business License
  • Food Service License
  • Health Permit
  • Food Handler’s Permit
  • Retail Food Establishment License
  • Catering License
  • Alcohol License (if serving alcoholic beverages)
  • Special Event Permit (if offering catering for events)
  • Home Occupation Permit (if operating from home)
  • Zoning Permit.
d. What Type of Certification is Needed to Open an Empanada Business?

You do not need any certifications to open an empanada business.

e. What Documents are Needed to Open an Empanada Business?
  • Business Plan
  • Business License Application
  • Food Service Permit Application
  • Health Inspection Certificate
  • Food Safety Plan
  • Menu or Product List
  • Supplier Agreements/Invoices
  • Lease or Rental Agreement for Commercial Space
  • Insurance Policies (General Liability, Product Liability)
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS
  • Tax Registration Certificate
  • Employee Hiring Documents (if applicable)
  • Equipment Purchase/Lease Agreements
  • Marketing and Advertising Plans
  • Financial Projections and Budgets.
f. Do You Need a Trademark, Copyright, or Patent?

An empanada business may or may not need a trademark, copyright, or patent and this is dependent on the specific products, services, and branding associated with the business.

Be that as it may, an empanada business may want to consider obtaining a trademark for its business name or logo to prevent others from using similar names or logos.

An empanada business may want to consider obtaining a copyright for its original marketing materials, or other creative content that it produces.

It can consider obtaining a patent if it has invented a unique piece of equipment or technology that is used in its business operations.

  1. Cost Analysis and Budgeting

a. How Much Does It Cost to Start an Empanada Business?

The cost to start an empanada business can vary widely depending on factors such as the size of the business, location, equipment, and supplies needed, staffing costs, marketing expenses, and more. However, a rough estimate could range from $50,000 to $200,000 or more, depending on the size and scope of the business.

b. What are the Costs Involved in Starting an Empanada Business?
  • Business Registration Fees – $750.
  • Legal expenses for obtaining licenses and permits – $2,300.
  • Marketing, Branding, and Promotions – $2,000.
  • Business Consultant Fee – $3,500.
  • Insurance – $3,400.
  • Rent/Lease – $125,000.
  • Other start-up expenses including, commercial satellite TV subscriptions, stationery ($500), and phone and utility deposits ($1,800).
  • Operational Cost (salaries of employees, payments of bills et al) – $60,000
  • Start-up Inventory – $25,000
  • Store Equipment (cash register, security, ventilation, signage) – $2,750
  • Furnishing and Equipping the Restaurant and Kitchen – $100,000
  • Website: $600
  • Opening party: $3,000
  • Miscellaneous: $2,000.
c. What Factors Determine the Cost of Opening an Empanada Business?
  • The size and type of the empanada business
  • The choice of location
  • The required licenses and permits
  • The cost of hiring and paying a business consultant and attorney
  • The cost of branding, promotion, and marketing of the empanada business
  • The cost of furnishing and equipping the empanada business
  • The cost of the insurance policy covers
  • The cost of registering the business
  • Source of your supplies and ongoing expenses
  • The cost of recruiting and training your staff
  • The cost for the purchase and customizing of uniforms, shoes, and caps for your employees
  • The cost for the grand opening of the empanada business.
d. Do You Need to Build a Facility? If YES, How Much Will It Cost?

It is not necessary to build a new facility for your empanada business, especially if you choose to operate from a rented restaurant or café facility. But, if you have the required finance, it will pay you to build your own facility.

The truth is that building or reconstructing a restaurant or café facility for your empanada business will allow you to come up with a facility that will perfectly fit into your overall business goals and vision.

e. What are the Ongoing Expenses of an Empanada Business?
  • Rent or Lease Payments
  • Utilities such as electricity, water, heating, and cooling.
  • Cooking supplies such as dough, various fillings (meat, vegetables, cheese), spices and seasonings, cooking oil, baking trays, pastry brushes, sealing utensils, and packaging materials (boxes, wrappers).
  • Equipment Maintenance and Repairs
  • Employee Wages and Benefits
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Insurance
  • Licenses and permits such as food service permits and health department certifications.
  • Miscellaneous Expenses such as accounting services, legal fees, point-of-sale systems, cleaning supplies, waste disposal services, and general maintenance costs.
f. What is the Average Salary of your Staff?
  • Chief Chef (Owner) – $65,000 Per Year
  • Restaurant Manager – $40,000 Per Year
  • Human Resources and Amin Manager $38,600 Per Year
  • Accountants (Cashiers) $37,000 Per Year
  • Chef (Cooks) – $40,600 Per Year
  • Kitchen Assistants – $30,700 Per Year
  • Waiters and Waitress – $30,000 Per Year
  • Cleaners -$28,500 Per Year.
g. How Do You Get Funding to Start an Empanada Business
  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for a loan from your bank/banks
  • Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from the government, donor organizations, and angel investors
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and friends.
  1. Write a Business Plan

a. Executive Summary

Rosa Park™ Empanada Café, LLC is a dynamic culinary venture set to revolutionize the Chicago dining scene. Our mission is simple: to provide the city’s diverse population with a unique and flavorful experience centered around the beloved empanada.

Located strategically in Chicago, Illinois, we aim to become the go-to destination for authentic, handcrafted empanadas. Backed by a passionate team of culinary experts and driven entrepreneurs, Rosa Park™ Empanada Café is poised for success.

With a strategic location, a commitment to quality, and a dedication to customer satisfaction, we are confident that Rosa Park™ Empanada Café will emerge as a beloved fixture in the Chicago culinary landscape.

b. Products and Service

Drawing inspiration from global culinary influences, Rosa Park™ Empanada Café will offer an extensive menu featuring a variety of innovative fillings and flavors, appealing to both traditionalists and adventurous food enthusiasts alike.

In addition to our exceptional empanadas, Rosa Park™ Empanada Café will cultivate a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere, inviting guests to linger and savor each moment.

c. Mission Statement

At Rosa Park™ Empanada Café, LLC, our mission is to delight customers with handcrafted empanadas made from the freshest ingredients, embodying the rich culinary heritage of Latin America while embracing global flavors.

We are committed to providing a welcoming and vibrant atmosphere where every guest feels valued and inspired to explore new tastes and experiences.

Vision Statement:

Our vision at Rosa Park™ Empanada Café, LLC is to become the premier destination for empanadas in Chicago and beyond, recognized for our dedication to quality, innovation, and community.

We aspire to cultivate a culture of culinary excellence, enriching the lives of our customers through delicious food, cultural exchange, and memorable experiences.

d. Goals and Objectives

At Rosa Park™ Empanada Café, LLC, our goals are to establish ourselves as the premier empanada destination in Chicago, offering a diverse range of handcrafted flavors and fostering a vibrant community atmosphere.

We aim to exceed customer expectations through exceptional service, quality ingredients, and culinary innovation. Our objectives include expanding our customer base, increasing brand recognition, and contributing positively to the cultural and culinary landscape of our city.

e. Organizational Structure
  • Chief Chef (Owner)
  • Restaurant Manager
  • Human Resources and Amin Manager
  • Accountants (Cashiers)
  • Chef (Cooks)
  • Kitchen Assistants
  • Waiters and Waitress
  • Cleaners

Marketing Plan

a. SWOT Analysis
  • Offering a diverse range of handcrafted empanadas with innovative flavors sets us apart in the market.
  • Sourcing fresh, locally sourced ingredients ensures the superior taste and authenticity of our empanadas.
  • Situated in Chicago, a bustling city with a diverse population and a thriving culinary scene, provides ample opportunities for customer engagement and growth.
  • Our team of passionate culinary experts and entrepreneurs brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the business.
  • As a new venture, building brand awareness and establishing ourselves in a competitive market may pose initial challenges.
  • Ensuring smooth operations and managing inventory effectively to meet demand while minimizing waste requires careful planning and execution.
  • While focusing on empanadas is our strength, offering a limited menu may restrict our appeal to some customers seeking broader dining options.
  • Expanding consumer interest in ethnic cuisines and street foods presents an opportunity to capture a larger market share.
  • Offering catering services for events and corporate functions can provide an additional revenue stream and increase brand visibility.
  • Collaborating with local businesses, food festivals, and cultural events can enhance brand exposure and attract new customers.
  • Facing competition from established eateries and food trucks offering similar cuisine may impact our market penetration and profitability.
  • Economic downturns or fluctuations in consumer spending habits could affect discretionary spending on dining out.
  • Adhering to health and safety regulations and securing necessary permits and licenses are essential but may pose challenges and incur additional costs.
b. How Do Empanada Business Make Money?

Empanada businesses generate revenue primarily through the sale of empanadas. Customers purchase these handcrafted turnovers, filled with various ingredients, either as individual snacks or as part of a meal.

Additional revenue streams may include catering services for events and parties, wholesale distribution to local eateries or grocery stores, and merchandise sales.

c. Payment Options
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Cash
  • Mobile payment (e.g., Apple Pay, Google Pay)
  • Contactless payment
  • Gift cards
  • Online payment (e.g., PayPal, Venmo).
d. Sales & Advertising Strategies
  • Utilize visually appealing imagery of your empanada boards on social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to showcase your offerings and attract potential customers.
  • Partner with local wineries, breweries, or gourmet food producers for cross-promotional opportunities, joint events, or product pairings to expand your reach and attract new customers.
  • Host tasting events or sampling sessions at your establishment or local markets to introduce customers to your empanada offerings and generate buzz around your business.
  • Build and maintain an email list of customers and prospects to send out newsletters, promotions, and special offers, keeping your audience engaged and informed about your latest offerings and events.
  • Optimize your website and online listings for local search keywords to improve your visibility in search engine results and attract customers looking for empanada options in your area.
  • Implement a referral program where existing customers can earn rewards or discounts for referring new customers to your business, incentivizing word-of-mouth marketing and customer loyalty.
  • Develop specialized catering packages for events such as weddings, corporate functions, or private parties, highlighting your empanada boards as a unique and upscale catering option to attract event planners and organizers.

Financial Projection

a. How Much Should You Charge for Your Product/Service?
  • Individual Empanadas: Prices typically range from $2 to $5 per empanada, depending on factors like size, filling complexity, and local market rates.
  • Combo Deals: Many empanada businesses offer combo deals, such as two or three empanadas with a side and a drink, priced between $8 and $12.
  • Catering Packages: Catering packages for events or parties may range from $10 to $20 per person, including a selection of empanadas, sides, and beverages.
  • Wholesale Distribution: Empanada businesses may sell their products wholesale to local eateries or grocery stores at prices around $1.50 to $3 per empanada, depending on volume and arrangements.
b. How Much Profit Do Empanada Business Owners Make a Year?

The annual profit for owners of an empanada business varies widely and depends on factors such as business size, location, operational efficiency, and marketing success.

On average, small to medium-sized empanada businesses may generate a profit ranging from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand dollars per year.

Strategic pricing, effective cost management, and a strong customer base contribute to the overall profitability of empanada businesses in the competitive beverage market.

c. What Factors Determine the Amount of Profit to Be Made?
  • The capacity of the empanada business and its sales volume
  • The locations the empanada business is covering
  • The management style of the empanada business
  • The business approach of the empanada business
  • The advertising and marketing strategies adopted by the empanada business.
  • The number of years the empanada business is in business
d. What is the Profit Margin of an Empanada Business?

Profit margins for empanada businesses typically range from 20% to 30% of total revenue. However, it is important to note that these figures can vary based on factors such as the business size, cost structure, efficiency of operations, competition, and market demand.

e. What is the Sales Forecast?
  • First Fiscal Year (FY1): $480,000
  • Second Fiscal Year (FY2): $750,000
  • Third Fiscal Year (FY3): $900,000
  1. Set Up your Shop/Office

a. How Do You Choose a Perfect Location for an Empanada Business?
  • Choose a location with high foot traffic, such as busy streets, shopping districts, or office areas. Visibility is essential to attract passing customers, increasing the chances of spontaneous visits.
  • Consider the demographics of your target market. If your empanada business caters to office workers, a location near business districts might be ideal.
  • Conduct thorough market research to assess the presence of competitors in the area. Look for locations with a balance—enough customer traffic without overwhelming competition.
  • Ensure easy accessibility for customers, whether on foot, by car, or by public transportation. If driving is common in the area, having convenient parking options can enhance the customer experience.
  • Evaluate the overall business environment in the chosen location. Assess the economic vitality, community culture, and local regulations.
b. What State and City is Best to Open an Empanada Business?
  • New York City, New York
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • San Francisco, California
  • Austin, Texas
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Nashville, Tennessee.
c. What Equipment is Needed to Operate an Empanada Business?
  • Commercial Dough Mixer
  • Dough Sheeter
  • Empanada Press or Molder
  • Commercial Ovens (Either convection or deck ovens for baking empanadas to perfection.)
  • Frying Equipment (Deep fryers or fryer pots)
  • Refrigeration Units (Walk-in refrigerators or reach-in coolers for storing ingredients, dough, and prepared fillings.)
  • Stainless Steel Worktables
  • Food Processor or Blender
  • Sinks and Dishwashing Equipment (Commercial sinks, dishwashers, and sanitizing stations for cleaning utensils, equipment, and work surfaces.)
  • Packaging Supplies (Boxes, wrappers, or containers for packaging and serving empanadas.)
  • Point-of-Sale (POS) System (Cash registers or POS software for processing transactions and managing sales.)
  • Utensils and Kitchen Tools (Knives, spatulas, tongs, baking sheets, and other essential kitchen utensils.)
  • Safety Equipment (Fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and safety signage).
  1. Hire Employees

Hiring employees for an empanada business is important for several reasons. Skilled staff ensures the consistent preparation of high-quality empanadas, contributing to customer satisfaction and positive reviews.

Employees handle various tasks, from ingredient preparation to customer service, allowing the business owner to focus on strategic aspects of operations. Efficient staffing enhances productivity, enabling the business to handle high customer demand during peak hours.

  1. Launch the Business Proper

Organizing a launch party before opening a new empanada business is crucial for creating buzz and building a positive brand image. The event serves as a strategic marketing tool, attracting potential customers, local influencers, and the community.

It provides a platform to showcase the business’s unique offerings, allowing attendees to experience the product firsthand. A well-executed launch party generates excitement, fosters word-of-mouth marketing, and establishes initial customer loyalty.

a. What Makes an Empanada Business Successful?
  • Choose a good location to launch the business
  • Make sure you offer a variety of empanadas, and your services are top-notch
  • Throw an open house grand party before officially opening the empanada business
  • Be deliberate with your marketing sales approach
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth to promote your empanada business
  • Leverage all available online and offline platforms to promote your empanada business
b. What Happens During a Typical Day at an Empanada Business?
  • The business is open for the day’s work
  • The restaurant serving area and kitchen are cleaned and ready for the day’s business
  • Food ingredients are purchased, washed, and ready for use or cooked
  • Customer’s orders are taken and they are served or their orders are delivered to them
  • The cashier collects cash and reconciles accounts for the day
  • Administrative duties are carried out
  • The store or warehouse is restocked when required.
  • The business is closed for the day.
c. What Skills and Experience Do You Need to Build an Empanada Business?
  • Proficiency in empanada preparation, including knowledge of diverse cooking techniques, flavor combinations, and the ability to create a variety of empanadas.
  • Understanding of business operations, including budgeting, inventory management, and strategic planning for sustainable growth.
  • Skill in creating a diverse and appealing empanada menu that caters to different tastes, dietary preferences, and seasonal variations.
  • Knowledge of sourcing high-quality, fresh, and local ingredients to ensure the quality of the empanadas.
  • Strong interpersonal skills to provide excellent customer service, understand customer preferences, and handle inquiries and feedback effectively.
  • Ability to lead and manage a kitchen team, ensuring a smooth workflow, efficient collaboration, and a positive work environment.
  • Flexibility to adapt to changing market trends, customer preferences, and seasonal variations in ingredients.
  • Skills in developing and implementing marketing strategies to promote the empanada business, attract customers, and increase brand visibility.
  • Knowledge of and commitment to health and safety regulations in the food industry, ensuring a clean and compliant kitchen.
  • Basic financial literacy to manage budgets, track expenses, and set pricing strategies that ensure profitability.