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How To Start A Carinderia Business In The Philippines

By Yesh Quijano    November 9, 2023       min read

The carinderia business has long been a staple in the Filipino food scene, offering affordable and delicious meals to locals (and even tourists!).

These small, family-owned eateries have become a part of the daily lives of many Filipinos, providing them with a convenient and economical option for enjoying home-cooked-style meals.

selection of viands in an eatery

Those who wish to start their own carinderia must be aware of the factors involved before taking the plunge, like initial investment, menu planning, and payment options.

Here’s a quick but comprehensive guide for the aspiring carinderia owner.

Key Takeaways

  • Carinderias offer affordable meals and potential stable income for business owners

  • Considering factors like startup costs and menu planning is crucial in carinderia business

  • Being aware of initial investment, payment options, and other challenges is essential

Why Start A Carinderia Business?

Carinderias are close to Filipino hearts

A carinderia business is both practical and sentimental for Filipinos, as it provides affordable and delicious home-cooked meals. For many, a carinderia is a familiar and comforting place, offering a variety of dishes that remind them of their own home.

It’s Not Very Hard To Manage

Operating a carinderia business generally requires minimal staff and supervision. With proper management, you can ensure a smooth operation while focusing on the quality and variety of dishes offered.

It Doesn’t Require a Lot of Marketing

The appeal of a carinderia is its inherent simplicity and access to a wide range of customers. Word-of-mouth referrals and strategic location play a significant role in attracting patrons, so there is no need for intensive marketing efforts.

Things To Consider Before Starting A Carinderia Business

8 considerations

Capital

It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your financial capacity. Small capital is often enough for a basic set-up, but keep in mind that you may need additional funds as your business grows. Create a budget to estimate the start-up costs, covering essentials like rent, cooking equipment, and initial inventory.

Location

Your carinderia’s location plays a significant role in determining its success. Ideally, you should find a spot with high foot traffic, like near markets or public transit stations.

Moreover, consider areas with limited food vendors to minimize competition. Before deciding, research the location’s target market and rental fees to ensure it aligns with your business goals.

Materials

Equip your carinderia with proper materials to streamline your operations. You will need the following:

  • Gas stove

  • Two-door Refrigerator

  • Kitchen sink w/ stable water supply

  • Tables and chairs

  • Fans (ideally wall-mounted to save on floor space)

  • Water Dispenser

  • Utensils and Supplies

The quality of these materials affects not only the efficiency of your operations but also the overall customer experience in your establishment.

Workforce Or Employees

Your workforce is crucial in delivering an enjoyable dining experience to your patrons. Hire a small but reliable team to handle tasks like cooking, serving, and cleaning. Bear in mind that you must provide your employees with fair wages and benefits to retain them and maintain a positive work environment.

Small carinderias usually hire friends and family as a start. However, it’s important to keep a professional relationship with them while working.

Additionally, carinderias start cooking early so hire employees that are punctual and reliable in the mornings.

Cooking Process

The cooking process is a significant aspect of your carinderia business. To ensure food safety, you should follow proper food handling and storage guidelines. Invest in essential appliances like gas stoves, refrigerators, and freezers to preserve ingredients and maintain food quality.

It’s also important to have a proper cooking schedule. For example, sourcing fresh raw materials from the local wet market (palengke) usually starts at 4 a.m.

Menu Or Food Choices

Your menu dictates the type of customers you attract. Offer a variety of food choices that cater to different tastes while keeping costs low.

Consider including traditional Filipino dishes alongside other popular options, maintaining a balance between local favorites and crowd-pleasers.

Tip: rotate your menu occasionally to keep your diners interested.

Prices

Keep your prices affordable for your target market, ensuring that your carinderia remains competitive without sacrificing profit margins. To price your items reasonably, calculate food costs, labor expenses, and overhead costs. Regularly monitor your revenue and expenses to adjust pricing as needed.

On average here’s a sample pricing for food:

  • Rice: ₱10-₱12 per cup

  • Meats: ₱50-₱60 per serving

  • Vegetables: ₱25-₱40 per serving

  • Special Ulam: ₱60+

Marketing (Optional)

Personally, marketing a carinderia is optional; as long as you set up shop in a location with plenty of foot traffic, customers will naturally come.

However, promoting your carinderia will help attract additional customers and boost brand recognition.

Start by creating engaging and eye-catching signage visible from busy streets. Next, leverage social media platforms to showcase your menu, announce promotions, and gather customer feedback. Word-of-mouth remains a powerful marketing tool, so consider offering incentives for loyal customers who refer others to your establishment. You can learn more about common marketing strategies here.

Read more: Common Carinderia Business Problems And How To Solve Them

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Carinderia In The Philippines?

Starting a carinderia business in the Philippines can be a lucrative venture with the right planning and execution. To begin, you will need to determine your startup costs, which can vary depending on several factors including location, size, and menu offerings.

Based on industry standards and research, the typical capital needed to start a carinderia falls within the range of PHP 30,000 to PHP 100,000.

Your initial expenses will primarily be allocated towards acquiring necessary permits, purchasing equipment, and securing a suitable location. Here’s a breakdown of the costs you may incur:

  • Business permits and registration: To operate legally, it’s important to secure permits from your local government unit and register your business with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and BIR. This process usually costs between PHP 5,000 and PHP 10,000.

  • Location: The monthly rent for a carinderia space can vary greatly depending on where it’s situated. High-traffic areas near schools, offices, or residential communities will typically have higher rent prices, ranging from PHP 5,000 to PHP 20,000.

  • Kitchen equipment: You’ll need to invest in essential kitchen equipment like stove, pots, pans, and utensils. Purchasing new equipment can cost around PHP 10,000 to PHP 30,000, but you can also explore the option of second-hand items to save on costs.

  • Furniture and fixtures: Depending on your preferred setup, you may need to buy tables, chairs, and other fixtures to accommodate your customers. Furniture expenses can range from PHP 5,000 to PHP 15,000.

  • Initial inventory: Your first stock of ingredients, seasonings, and other food supplies will require around PHP 5,000 to PHP 20,000, depending on the menu items you plan to offer.

Keep in mind that these costs are estimates and will ultimately depend on your specific needs and goals for your carinderia business.

As you proceed with your planning, don’t forget to include a contingency fund for unforeseen expenses or potential product waste, and thoroughly research suppliers to maximize your budget.

What Are The Basic Steps In Starting A Carinderia Business?

steps in starting an eatery

Step 1: Register Your Business And Gain The Necessary Permits

To start a carinderia business, you will need to register it with the appropriate local government agencies. This process typically involves acquiring a business permit, a sanitation permit, and tax registration.

Step 2: Find An Ideal Location

Choosing the right location is crucial for the success of your carinderia business. Look for an area with high foot traffic, such as near schools, offices, or transportation hubs.

Consider visibility, accessibility, and parking. In addition, research the competition within the vicinity to ensure there’s room for your business to thrive.

Step 3: Purchase Or Lease Your Carinderia Business Supplies And Materials

Once you have secured a location, you will need to invest in the necessary equipment and supplies for your carinderia.

This includes cooking appliances, utensils, tables, chairs, and other essentials. Shop around for the best prices and consider leasing options to minimize your initial expenses.

Step 4: (Optional) Create A Marketing Plan

While not required, creating a marketing plan can help build awareness and attract potential customers. Utilize various marketing channels like social media, local newspapers, and flyers.

Tip: Have you ever stumbled upon a carinderia that looks like an old, rundown shack, but is brimming with customers? Many Filipinos appreciate these rustic vibes, often associating them with affordable and authentic meals.

Step 5: Open Your Carinderia Business

With everything in place, you can start operating your carinderia business. While you can always choose to hold a grand launch event, most small carinderia business just open their doors and wait for the customers to come in.

To keep things financially reasonable, you can consider a soft launch instead.

How Will You Accept Payments?

When starting your carinderia business, it is crucial to consider which payment methods you will accept. Nowadays many customers don’t carry cash and rely on online payment platforms to pay for goods and services.

One option is to accept cash-only payments. While this method can simplify your cash management, it may not be the most accessible option for some customers as more people rely on digital payment methods like GCash and Maya.

Our recommendation is to accommodate your customer’s needs and consider accepting mobile wallet payments like GCash and PayMaya. You can learn more on how to become a GCash merchant here.

What Food Are Commonly Bought? Deciding On Your Menu.

sisig is a loved food across all ages

One way to ensure your carinderia’s success is to serve a selection of favorite Filipino dishes that many people love and look for when they visit a carinderia. Some commonly eaten foods are:

  • Sinigang

  • Inasal/BBQ

  • Beef Caldereta

  • Chicken or Pork Adobo

  • Adobong Pusit (Squid)

  • Fried fish or chicken

  • Nilaga

Tip: When deciding on your carinderia menu, pay attention to the most commonly bought food items and sell more of those.

bbq or inasal is a favorite ulam
pinoys live brothy food

Morning or Breakfast Menu

Aside from serving the main dishes, you can also consider offering a breakfast or morning menu. Filipinos tend to have different preferences for their morning food. A typical morning menu would include:

  • Silog: Tocilog (tocino) and Tapsilog (tapa) are must-haves, but other silog meals are also a great addition.

  • Spaghetti

  • Pancit

You might also want to consider offering coffee to your customers. A menu of different 3-in-1 brands, such as Nescafe and Great Taste, can be a simple and convenient option – all you need to do is pour hot water to it.

silo meals are pinoys' favorite breakfast

Snack Menu

Filipinos love to snack at around 2-3 p.m. Consider selling these snacks during those hours:

  • Banana Cue

  • Tusok-Tusok (fishball, kikiam, kwek-kwek)

  • Bilo-Bilo

  • Halo-Halo

Wrapping Up

Carinderias present an opportunity for affordable dining for patrons and a promising avenue for stable earnings for small and micro-entrepreneurs.

To ensure success in this venture, one must pay keen attention to aspects such as initial costs, crafting the right menu, understanding the investment nuances, and navigating various operational challenges.

Interested in starting your own carinderia business? Talk to us for a business consultation.

About the author 

Yesh Quijano

Yesh Quijano is an entrepreneur and digital marketer who's been in the game for over 11 years. He started several businesses and helped countless others reach new heights. His goal is to make digital marketing for SMEs simple, accessible, and effective. When he's not working, you can find him cuddling with his two cats.

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