Run And Manage Deli Business: Our guide on starting a deli covers all the essential information.

To help you decide if this business is a good match for you.

Learn about the day-to-day activities of a deli owner.

The typical target market, growth potential, startup costs, legal considerations, and more!

Delicatessen, better known as delis, were brought to the US during the 1800s by German Jews.

Traditional delis sell Kosher sandwiches and snacks such as knishes.

But these days many small grocery stores which also offer a variety of ready-to-eat food.

Items may call themselves delis. All delis offer extremely casual, if not friendly, quick service.

See related:8 Top Truck/Vendor Food Business in Nigeria

Run And Manage Deli Business: BusinessHAB.com
Run And Manage Deli Business

Run And Manage Deli Business

1. Who is this business right for?

Owning a deli is often more of a lifestyle than just operating a business.

Depending on the size of the business, owners can find themselves.

Working 12 or more hours a day, five or more days a week.

People considering opening a deli should not only have a background in the restaurant business.

But more importantly, a passion for the industry.

Since owning a deli can take up so much time.

It essential the owner’s family is supportive of the business from the beginning.

Run And Manage Deli Business

2. What happens during a typical day at a deli?

Operating a deli is like running two businesses at the same time.

Deli owners need to run and manage a retail store plus a restaurant.

This means owners spend their working day ordering.

And preparing food, stocking shelves, cleaning, serving customers, and working the register.

Many deli owners also handle their own bookkeeping duties.

Run And Manage Deli Business

3. What is the target market?

Delis appeal to all ethnic and social-economic groups.

The ideal customer is anyone looking for a fast, filling meal within walking distance of the location.

Many delis now cater to vegetarians and those customers.

Who want healthier eating options by providing a wide range of selections.

Run And Manage Deli Business

4. How does a deli make money?

Delis make money by selling prepared food and quickly serving food.

In addition, some delis make money selling a limited amount of groceries.

Run And Manage Deli Business

5. What is the growth potential for a deli?

Delis are a multi-billion dollar business in the US.

And the popularity of quick, readyto-eat meals shows no signs of declining.

There is great growth potential for delis which offer healthy food options.

And choices for customers with food allergies.

Run And Manage Deli Business


6. What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful deli?

A background in cooking in a commercial setting can help.

Deli owners often prepare much of the food themselves.

Or at the very least are required to train new employees.

Since delis prepare food, most municipalities require someone at the location.

To hold a food handling certificate.

Deli owners who have a certificate may be able to save money on payroll.

Deli owners also need to know how to run a profitable retail business.

This includes experience with ordering, pricing, and bookkeeping.

Read also: Top 30 Food Vending Business in Nigeria

Run And Manage Deli Business

7. What are the costs involved in opening a deli?

Starting a deli is not cheap, but it is still possible to open.

A moderately sized deli in a smaller city for less than $50,000.

The location and equipment The largest chunk of the initial start-up.

Capital is for securing a lease and fitting out the deli.

The best locations for a deli is any place where there are lots of hungry people.

At lunchtime during the week. Successful delis are often near office buildings, hospitals.

And schools where there are lots of people who need a quick.

Inexpensive meal. Not all locations allow businesses to cook food.

So you need to make sure to choose a location where it is possible.

Food prep and merchandising equipment is not cheap.

Owners on a tight budget may want to consider leasing equipment on a monthly basis.

Permitting and insurance  Any time when food is prepared on-site.

Owners will have to deal with permits and inspections.

This usually means additional headaches and expenses.

In addition, food service businesses often need extensive business.

Liability insurance to protect them from litigation.

Marketing and promotions –  Competition for customers in the deli business is fierce.

New delis need to have the funds to run aggressive marketing and advertising campaigns.

Run And Manage Deli Business

8. What are some insider tips for jump starting a deli?

A deli which focuses on offering an authentic specialty is usually more successful than one.

Which tries to offer a little bit of everything.

Try to position your new deli as the leader of a particular niche in the market.

You may want to serve a particular cuisine, such as Latin American, Jewish, or Italian food.

Or create a gourmet or health-conscience deli.

A specialty will help your deli stand out from the one down the street.

And make promoting your brand easier.

Run And Manage Deli Business


9. How to promote & market a deli

Use what is special about your deli as the main way to drive in new business.

Since most deli customers live or work within walking distance of the delis location.

Spend your marketing time and money extremely locally.

Run And Manage Deli Business

10. How to keep customers coming back

Deli’s make most of their sales from returning customers.

That is why fresh, quality products priced fairly.

And served quickly is the best way to become successful.

There is so much competition for the lunch crowd.

That delis cant afford to disappoint their customers even once.

Must read: 51 Tips to Start Nigerian Food Making Business in Abuja

Run And Manage Deli Business

11. How and when to build a team

There is always something more you can be doing when you run a deli.

That is the reason deli owners should begin building a quality team from the first day.

Many smaller delis employ family members at first to save on labor costs.

But almost every deli eventually needs at least a few employees.

Providing training to employees which allows them to serve your customers better

By becoming more knowledgeable is essential.

Run And Manage Deli Business


12. Federal Business Licensing Requirements

There are federal regulations regarding what can and cannot be added to.

Sold as, and processed with food. Attached is a resource from the Food

And Drug Administration detailing the process of starting a food business:

How to Start a Food Business

Run And Manage Deli Business

13. State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a deli business.

Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBAs

Reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide.

To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business.

Check out our informative guideSales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

  • Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
  • Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.

Run And Manage Deli Business

14. Certificate of Occupancy

A deli business is generally run out of a storefront. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a deli business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your deli business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

See also: 51 Pasta Food Production Business Tips in Nigeria

Run And Manage Deli Business

15. Food Regulations

When selling food, you will need licensing from a local health department;

All establishments serving food are required to pass a health inspection.

Tips for faring well on a health inspections

Run And Manage Deli Business

16. Liquor Licensing

Businesses involved in the sale of alcoholic beverages are required

To obtain a liquor license from the appropriate state or local agency.

A comprehensive list of laws by state (including necessary licenses, zoning laws, etc),

Curated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, is included here.

Run And Manage Deli Business

17. Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC)

Ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Run And Manage Deli Business


18. How much can you charge customers?

Competition for dining dollar is fierce, so prices for deli items are usually low.

Most delis run at 30% food cost.

That means that if it costs $3.00 for the ingredients which go into making a dish.

That item needs to be $10 on the menu.

Some of the dishes with higher ingredient cost have slimmer margins in order.

To keep menu prices affordable.

Specialty groceries typically have a markup of between 1015%.

Read also: 51 Tips to Start Chinese Food Business in Lagos

Run And Manage Deli Business

19. What are the ongoing expenses for a deli?

Delis have many ongoing expenses including labor, stock, rent, and utilities.

20. How much profit can a deli make?

Most delis can expect to earn a profit of around 10% of revenue.

Run And Manage Deli Business

21. How can you make your business more profitable?

Delis can earn more money by adding food-related businesses like a bakery or bake-at-home options.


There are many challenges facing any business entering this sector.

But establishing that there is a market within the local area is always the first step.

However, do not attempt the project as a hobby or to get out of the rat race.

Do it for your love of good food and drink and of sharing it with like-minded people.

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