Opening a Food Business in Zurich, Switzerland

Food Business in Switzerland

I’m regularly going for business lunches in Zurich and when I started my business I could not really afford that. Nowadays, if I haven’t been to a restaurant yet, I always leave a Google review and I even give feedback on forms. The reason I am doing this is because I’m hardly ever wowed by the experience. There are a number of reasons for that and my Swiss friends will probably cancel me for saying that but one reason is the Swiss attitude and arrogance to literally everything. There are 1001 rules and regulations and it is hard to survive as a restaurant owner. So most restaurants here are owned by chains and many of them are great (such as Bindella). However, if you want a really good experience you have to pay a high price. What I really miss in Zurich (and I’m glad I’ve found XOLLDI  and Sina’s Backstube.) are cozy neighborhood places where the person at the bar knows you, chats with you and you can go ALONE without feeling like a weirdo. The other big issue is that a lot of places are closed on Sundays, which is one of the days when most single people would love to go for dinner and meet other people. What’s the logic of closing on Sundays? Well, there are no business people around and the usual family of four can’t afford to go out for Sunday dinner, so they rather order pizzas (for 125 CHF).

If you have or are in the process of creating a cozy place for Global Nomads (in the city, not in Timbuktu) please contact me, because I still don’t really know where to have lunch during the week with a business partner or dinner on a Sunday. And, I don’t own a restaurant (I run a coaching and training business) but many of my clients consider opening a restaurant, so I have added a few basics here that you should know about.

#1 Decide on the Location, Location, Location

If you decide that you want to start a gastro business, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is where to open it. The right location plays a significant role as you are participating with many other businesses for customers and they might not allocate value to taking a long way to your shop. Especially as most of your customers will probably be walk-in customers. However, you should also not invest too much into the rent of your location. This link might help you to get a feeling of the differing rent prices across the country:

#2 Create a Business Plan

To not get lost in a crowd of culinary establishments it is important to work on a business plan that lets you stand out from the rest. To achieve this, you will need to think of a unique selling proposition. You could think of what kind of customers are likely to purchase your products in the location you have set on before. Are there rather people that might for example need a quick coffee on the go or will your customers be happier with a full menu set up? budgeting is an important topic and you should definitely create a detailed and well-thought-out budget plan to avoid any surprise costs. Furthermore, you should prepare yourself well for pitching your idea to your investors as they will also ask unpleasant questions for certain. For this event, you can also set an appointment for a personal consultation concerning the financing of your business.

#3 Understand all Legal Requirements

This point might be one of the most cumbersome ones that also takes a lot of time to handle. All cantons will require an operating license and a hygiene concept for self-monitoring also called the HACCP concept (Hazard, Analysis, Critical, Control, Points). This concept should be personalized and adapted to your business.

The following link will lead you to a HACCP Template:

Moreover, depending on the canton you will also be required to hand in further documents and certificates. These might be a host patent, a capability statement, a retail approval for a liquor pub (in case you will sell alcohol), and in some cases, you will have to undermine an assessment regarding food hygiene and addiction prevention. Where you get all documents and have to hand them in is listed in the link below:

You should join a “VERBAND” such as GastroSuisse to understand your legal rights and obligations and also get support regularly.

#4 Create a Hiring and Staffing Plan

Not only will you need a cook, but you will also need servers and cleaners. If you are new to Switzerland, you might not know a lot about the job market. It’s hard to find qualified and reliable staff in this industry.  


Food Business in Switzerland


#5 Consider a Pension Fund

You will need to find a pension fund for yourself and your staff.

If you are still interested you might have the necessary persistence and perseverance to start and run a restaurant business in Zurich, Switzerland. If you are basically looking for any job you might also want to check out my new resource “Angie Weinberger’s Top Ten Tips to Land by signing up here:

6 thoughts on “Opening a Food Business in Zurich, Switzerland

  1. Which office in Zurich issues the operating licence for a bakery? ie which is the competant authority to issue the permit to operate a bakery? what is the address?

    • Hi there, I have emailed you. According to the links we provide here it’s the local commune (Gemeinde).

    • Hi there, I have emailed you. According to the links we provide here it’s the local commune (Gemeinde).

  2. Which office in Zurich issues the operating licence for a bakery? ie which is the competant authority to issue the permit to operate a bakery? what is the address in zurich?
    Do bakeries in Zurich require a licence to operate?
    What is the address where one gets a licence?
    Did not get your reply.

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