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Restaurant Business vs Takeaway Business - Which One is Better?

By Hanaa Yousof

The food service industry is a global given; demand for restaurants of all flavours, cultures, and cuisines is constant and — if you find a niche you can expand into — incredibly rewarding. And this demand is even more reflected by the intense variety in the industry; from restaurants, to takeaways, to dark kitchens, things are more fast-paced than ever before. So if you’re an aspiring food entrepreneur, where do you start?

If there’s anything our Blocks2Bags team knows, it’s that there’s never one way to run a successful business — and widening your scope can be key to getting the bag. This week, our host Sebuh Mesfin sat down with previous guest Khalid Elmourie and one of our Blocks2Bags hosts Micky Tesfaye, both part of successful takeaway and restaurant ventures respectively. Khalid’s Pino Pizza and Micky’s Zeret Kitchen are both case studies of leaving a lasting impact and legacy in an industry that’s never short of new competition. Demystifying this is core in starting, and while the journey may be tough, breaking in can be more than worthwhile.


  1. Vision-centric approaches will move your business forward — A common thread with our guests on B2B? They all had unique visions and centred this as part of their entrepreneurial mission. No matter what industry, reminding yourself of what your aim is, particularly in an over-saturated industry like food, will help you keep up pace.

  2. Don’t forget about arbitrageA gem our host Micky previously discussed with Khalid in his episode, arbitrage will never not be a viable path to the bag; whether for restaurants or takeaways, both of our guests agreed that food is one of the best industries for ‘exporting’ ideas due to its high demand everywhere. Taking ideas internationally can lead to incomprehensible levels of success.

  3. Adopting a ‘chameleon persona’ to avoid stagnancy — One of the most common ways to fumble the bag is stagnancy. And with a market like food, rigidity in an industry extremely impacted by digital platforms like TikTok, which shift trends within seconds can be the fatal flaw of your business. Ensuring you listen to consumer’s needs and allowing your brand to adapt when needed is 🔑.

  4. Innovation doesn’t always start with new ideas — Originality is great, but what if you feel like you’re running out of options? In an industry where new spots seem to pop up daily, sometimes understanding what is popular and trying your hand at it actually makes more sense than a brand new venture. This links back to arbitrage; testing something popular somewhere else, like our guest Khalid with his move from London to Scotland, can work better than you’ve ever imagined.


Restaurants and takeaways are two staple establishments globally; with varying connotations attached to both — what with the full ‘experience’ of a dine-in restaurant, and the comfort and accessibility of a takeaway — it may seem impossible to understand how to pattern out the pros and cons of each as a budding food entrepreneur.

Here at Blocks2Bags, we’re all about the journey; what appeals to you may not necessarily feel like the best pathway for someone else. Turning to our guests, we discussed their individual insights, where Khalid’s takeaway business and Micky’s restaurant business both offered them a unique retrospective outlook on which one is better in the long-term.

For Micky, whose family have been in the food game since 2004 with their widely successful Ethiopian cuisine-based Zeret Kitchen, he reflected on the benefits of both.

“I think it’s always based on the value and what I could do”, he said. “I’m not wedded to an idea, it’s just what fits the way I operate and the opportunity I see”.

Khalid, on the other hand, while also open to the benefits of both, reflected on the convenience of a takeaway, which may appeal if you’re in the very initial stages of entrepreneurship. With the scaled down logistical aspects (whether this is hiring staff, or overhead concerns), it can offer a low barrier to accessing the market and attracting consumers.

In Khalid’s words, “you put the food into a box and never have to worry about it ever again”.


So once you’ve settled on opening a restaurant or takeaway, and decided on the various products on offer — what’s next? The path when really ‘starting’ might seem especially blurry; in an industry where we see just as many businesses fail as succeed, it can seem tempting to look for the exit before even ever really trying. So for this dilemma, we looked to our guests and their insights for what’s kept both of their establishments going strong, with legacies of decades of success behind both of them.

Here, it is crucial to distinguish between whether you’re just chasing a bag or starting your food entrepreneurship journey because you have a genuine idea that you think will succeed. Ultimately, both options can have tough choices and steps to them, with Micky commenting on the lack of autonomous choice that can stem from the former option. To really have consistent stability, he said that having clarity of vision was the most important first step — “knowing what you’re doing”, regardless of what this is.

Khalid also offered an insight into one of the major roadblocks that can occur if you don’t level your expectations, especially if your foundation is built upon a personal love for whatever the food that you’re selling is.

“Just because you find something tasty doesn’t mean the public will, and just because you don’t find something tasty doesn’t mean the public will”, he said, “be open-minded”.


Now that you have your vision clear and your expectations are all understood, where do you open your establishment? The answer that may immediately pop into your mind might be key food hubs such as London, where Micky’s Zeret Kitchen is based, and Khalid’s food journey began.

Despite this, both our guests agreed that starting or even expanding a business overseas was an option they would definitely consider, citing arbitrage opportunities as one of the main motivators for this. Whether in the ease of food as an industry you don’t need to worry about importing product for, as Micky pointed out, or in the educational value of learning a plethora of cultural practices, differing uses or flavours found in cuisines abroad, and more, as Khalid said, going global with food can offer you a hub of knowledge and a bag with even more value than keeping your business local.

Both our host Sebuh and our guests were in agreement here; with an industry as in demand as food, chasing the bag comes without borders.


Now that you’ve settled on which type of establishment you’re going with, your vision, and location — how do you spend your first £1000? Our guests offered two different sentiments and pathways you can take if you’re looking to get your establishment off of the ground.

Innovation is key here. For Micky, he again commented on the value of arbitrage in food, settling on a food market stall as something he would start with. Just as we’ve discussed arbitrage from London to somewhere abroad, there may be a market that doesn’t offer the cuisine you’re focused on. And not only does this provide you with easy access to new consumers, it also circumvents one of the key ways that your business can fail. As discussed in previous episodes of Blocks2Bags, just as business and tech companies can invest a lot of money into a product without considering how it will be received in the market, food businesses can make the very same mistake, pumping money into their establishment without allowing it to gain traction. Think about your businesses sustainability long-term; can it survive, and are people even interested?

Khalid opted for investing his £1000 into a dark kitchen. If you’ve never heard of these before, dark kitchens are businesses that only serve customers digitally, using platforms like Deliveroo and JustEat to popularise their business. Specifically, Khalid said he would use the money to open a dark kitchen using the space of a business that might already have the equipment, ingredients, and materials you need to start.

“Build on the back of something that exists”, Khalid said. “Be polite, be confident, walk into an establishment and ask them bluntly: I have £1000, I want to get the ball rolling, this is my concept — can we share your space?”

Innovation in food can mean many things; using your money in a way that’s conducive to a good working environment is key to success, especially if thinking outside the box can allow you to reach new avenues you may never have even considered before.


After you’ve taken everything into account — which comes out on top, restaurants or takeaways?

The answer is neither. As is a near-tradition with Blocks2Bags, we think that the bag can come in many forms, and both establishments have valuable offerings. And beyond this, both paths can easily make you fumble the bag if you’re not careful. So if you’re in, how do you ensure you stay?

As mentioned previously, Micky emphasised the importance of not just investing huge amounts into your business without knowing if it will be really and truly successful. So on the back of this, Khalid’s recommendation to adopt a ‘chameleon persona’ is fitting. Be adaptable; your vision is important, but so is making sure that you’re willing to consider changes you can make to your niche and branding, practising improvisation and quick-thinking when you see the gaps in your business. Success and legacy don’t just rely on initial hype; there are always improvements to be made, and this is what can cement your business as permanent establishment, rather than another quick trend.


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