How can you start an Asian restaurant?

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Give your customers their healthy Asian fix with a wok franchise


While traditional fast food chains have been at the forefront of the franchising movement for many years, there’s been a relatively recent explosion of healthier fast food restaurants based on Asian cuisine.

Driven by the growing demand for exotic and adventurous foods, a desire to live a healthier lifestyle, and appreciation for the theatricality of the wok-based cooking experience, large numbers of customers have been frequenting two franchises in particular.

How to start an Asian restaurant

Here on Point Franchise, we offer three brilliant opportunities to enter the Asian restaurant business.

Wok to Walk, Wok&Go and Marugame Udon are three of the most successful Asian fast food franchises in Europe, and all present excellent investment opportunities. Here, we take a look at what makes them special.

Wok to Walk franchise

Wok to Walk markets itself as Europe’s leading Asian fast food franchise and it’s difficult to dispute this claim. Founded in 2004, the Amsterdam-based franchise quickly developed into an international business, with just under 100 units in cities as diverse as London, Barcelona, Los Angeles, and New York.

Offering fantastically fresh Asian cuisine that’s prepared in front of your eyes, Wok to Walk has established itself as an exciting opportunity for any potential franchisee who finds the idea of opening their own fast food franchise an attractive proposition.

The franchise regularly gains rave reviews for its recipes, and many customers return time and time again solely to watch the spectacular show the chefs put on each time they cook a dish.

Wok to Walk franchise cost

To invest in this noodle franchise, it's necessary to raise a minimum initial investment of £100,000. Franchise fees are set at around £45,000. In the case of Wok to Walk, funding support is available from many large banks and major lenders.

Due to the franchise's well-respected business model and the brand's reputation for success, lenders are much more comfortable financing new Wok to Walk franchises than they are smaller, independent businesses.

Once they have established a new franchise unit, franchisees will be expected to contribute 6% of net sales (+VAT) in royalty fees, and a further 2% of net sales (+VAT) will go towards the franchisor's advertising costs.

What do you receive in return for the investment?

In return for your investment, franchisees will be granted the right to operate under the Wok to Walk name and brand image. Considering Wok to Walk’s growing profile across the UK and Europe, these rights alone are enough to have customers queuing outside your doors on opening day.

Wok to Walk franchise units

The franchise’s business model is versatile, so franchisees will have to think long and hard about the type of establishment they want to run – would a hole in the wall, takeaway store be better than a large scale, restaurant-styled unit?

If your aspirations are a bit higher, you can even discuss the possibility of opening up a premium, flagship store with Wok to Walk. Each option comes with its own profit margins, but the core service remains the same across every kind of unit.

Having chosen the type of franchise unit you want to run, assistance in setting up the premises will be provided by the franchise. The initial training programme will teach franchisees all you need to know about running a Wok to Walk franchise, and ongoing support and guidance are also available.

Wok&Go franchise

Wok&Go is an Asian franchise that specialises in serving up a unique blend of Thai, Malay, Chinese, Japanese, and Indonesian cuisines.

With units situated all over the UK, it’s a franchise that hasn’t struggled to establish itself in the competitive fast food market. The franchise currently boasts 22 sites around the UK, though it’s quickly expanding and becoming one of the country’s most popular franchises to invest in.

All Wok&Go's recipes are designed by their specialist cooking teams, and the franchise focuses on providing a complete experience for the customer, meeting all their expectations each time they visit. Healthy recipes, convenience, and speed of service are all prioritised, while the theatricality and performance aspect of the meal preparation are also important draws.

Wok&Go franchise opportunities

If you want to own a franchise but aren’t that keen on running it, Wok&Go also offer a unique franchisor-run service. Franchisees put in the required investment, the franchisor runs the unit on their behalf, and the franchisee takes home a guaranteed income.

Wok&Go franchise costs

To invest in Wok&Go, potential franchisees need to raise a minimum of £100,000. The franchise fee is generally £15,000 +VAT. However, the franchise estimates that at least £200,000 will be required to get the franchise up and running, and franchisees will need a significant amount of working capital if they’re to be successful.

Once the business has opened its doors, franchisees need to account for the following costs:

  •         A royalty fee that equates to 6% of net sales +VAT
  •       An advertising fee of 1% of net sales +VAT

If required, funding support is available from major lenders and some banks, though how much of the initial investment can be borrowed will largely depend on your specific personal circumstances.

Wok&Go franchise package

In return for your investment, franchisees will receive a turnkey store outfitting, which covers site selection, design, build, and project management. All of this is performed in-house at Wok&Go, ensuring that prices are kept low, and franchisees benefit from the franchise's many years of experience.

Wok&Go franchisee training

As well as the franchisee’s own preparation, training will also be provided for all the unit’s chefs and staff, and you’ll receive a great deal of help when it comes to selecting and hiring your team. A regional manager is assigned to each franchise unit and acts as a liaison between the franchisee and franchisor, ensuring the lines of communication are always open and franchisees receive the support and guidance they need.

Finally, Wok&Go run national advertising and marketing campaigns on behalf of their franchisees and also operate a specially designed app that drives users towards franchise units in their area.

Marugame Udon franchise

Marugame Udon is a casual Japenese restaurant chain that is treating European diners to the flavours of the far-east. Its menu, which mainly consists of udon noodle, tempura and omusubi rice dishes, is being served up across 1004 outlets spread across the world.

Marugame Udon’s USP is that all of its restaurants use a self-service system that ensures a speedy service for all of its customers. In just 30 seconds, diners can have their chopsticks in a fresh bowl of noodles. This gives Marugame Udon an advantage over competitors like Wagamama, which use a more traditional waiter service.

Marugame Udon franchise cost

Starting up a Marugame Udon franchise restaurant can be done for a minimum investment of just £250,000. Once all additional fees and costs are accounted for, the total investment required adds up to a well-rounded £500,000.

In return, you will be given a restaurant with a floor space of 1,700 sq ft. That’s enough room to seat 256 hungry customers at once. With those kind of numbers, your Asian restaurant franchise has the potential to generate millions of pounds worth of returns.

The ideal Marugame Udon franchisee

Currently, Marugame Udon wants to speak to business people that are capable of supporting five different franchise restaurants. With such a large estate of properties, these Area Development franchisees can expect to make a lucrative return from a fast-growing business.

If you can afford to finance this level of franchise expansion, you are halfway there to becoming Marugame Udon’s latest business partner. To get your signature on the contract, you will also have to be able to demonstrate a set of specific characteristics. They are the following:

  1.     Business orientation. Marugame Udon is looking for business partners that know how to navigate the market. They need to have a good sense of direction when it comes to making critical decisions, and understand the importance of efficient service.
  2.     A forward-thinking mindset. Candidates for this high-potential franchise package need to always be thinking one-step ahead. That means looking beyond the day-to-day and week-to-week operations of the restaurant. All of the franchisee’s efforts should be focused on long-term success and market consolidation. 
  3.    The ability to take responsibility for the brand. Franchisees will be expected to be capable of taking the business into their own hands. That means taking responsibility for failures as well as successes, and being proactive in finding ways to improve.

How do I decide which Asian restaurant to invest in?

While all of our wok-based franchises are serving similar cuisines, there are substantial differences between their respective franchise models.

This means that potential franchisees need to think long and hard about what they want from their franchisor/franchisee relationship before signing any franchise agreements.

While Wok to Walk is the more established business, Wok&Go has demonstrated excellent growth potential and offers franchisees many exciting investment options. Meanwhile, Marugame Udon offers a unique self-service model that is enough to bring in customers in its own right.

Nevertheless, all of these franchises are likely to reward intelligent franchisees with significant returns and represent a sound investment. 


>> Read more articles on the Restaurant sector

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