April 05, 2024

18 Strategies to Kickstart a Restaurant Without Upfront Investment

Explore 18 Ways to Start a Restaurant Without Upfront Investment. Learn how to secure funds and set up your restaurant venture, covering location, menu, staffing, permits, and effective promotion strategies. Get insights into kickstarting your restaurant without capital.

1. Launch a virtual restaurant and sell food online from your home

Enter the idea of virtual kitchens, also known as cloud kitchens, catering exclusively to online delivery or takeout orders instead of a physical dining space. Explore our guide for insights into setting up this innovative model. A robust online presence is imperative, emphasising the need for a user-friendly website.

2. Initiate a pop-up restaurant experience

A pop-up restaurant is a temporary dining spot set up in places like bars or empty buildings. Starting a restaurant this way lets you experiment with menu ideas without spending much upfront.

3. Venture into the food truck business

Consider running a food truck instead of starting a regular restaurant or doing home catering. It costs less initially, especially if you buy a used truck, making it a great way for new entrepreneurs to learn about the food business.

4. Collaborate with a restaurant service provider

Instead of starting your own food business, think about teaming up with a restaurant service provider. For example, you can join UpMenu as an affiliate partner and earn money by suggesting their food ordering system to restaurants. By networking and referring others, you can make extra cash with each restaurant that uses the system, which could help you save more over time.

5. Opt for a shared kitchen space

Consider launching your restaurant venture in a shared kitchen to cut costs. Places like Smart City Kitchens provide resources and support for entrepreneurs embarking on and expanding their food businesses.


·   Driver pickup area

·   Receiving & loading dock

·   Staff pantry

·   Restrooms

·   Walk-in Chiller (for Tampines and Clementi only)

·   Walk-in Freezer (for Tampines and Clementi only)

·   CCTV Monitored

·   Access controlled

·   Both enclosed and open kitchens


·   Order pickup & processing

·   Courier handoff

·   Cleaning & maintenance

·   Safety & health inspections

·   Delivery logistics

·   Extraction & ventilation

·   On-site support staff

·   Insurance

·   24/7 Access

·   Pest Control

·   Waste Disposal

·   Grease Trap Cleaning

·   Wasteline Cleaning

·   Aircon Cleaning

·   Exhaust System Cleaning

·   Fire Protection and Suppression System Maintenance


·   2 Compartment sinks

·   Commercial exhaust hood

·   Power and gas

·   Grease-trap/interceptor

·   Cold & freezer storage

·   Dry storage / Dry rack

·   Extraction & ventilation

·   H3: Utilities:

·   Gas points

·   Power outlets

·   Gas/fire safety system

·   WiFi

·   Fire suppression systems

·   Data points

6. Apply for a business loan

Thinking about starting a restaurant without money? Consider getting a business loan from banks, credit unions, or online lenders in Singapore.

7. Explore business grants

Research available grants in Singapore to secure funding for your restaurant venture. Grants come with specific criteria, so thorough research is vital. Persevere in your search for opportunities to enhance your business, even in the face of potential rejections.

8. Consider non-bank loans

Explore non-bank lenders for loans, an emerging trend in financing. These lenders cater to the unique needs of Singapore’s restaurant industry, simplifying the borrowing process. However, carefully scrutinise the terms and conditions as convenience may come with associated risks.

9. Explore unsecured small business loans

Consider unsecured loans for financing your restaurant, especially if you have limited initial capital. Unlike secured loans, unsecured loans don’t necessitate collateral, relying instead on your personal creditworthiness.

10: Explore HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) options in Singapore

HELOC enables homeowners to access funds based on their home equity. It serves as a secured loan option suitable for financing restaurant ventures, offering variable interest rates and flexible repayment terms. Consult Singaporean banks for customised HELOC options.

11. Explore CPF funds for business start-ups

Think about using your CPF funds or retirement savings to kickstart your business journey. Keep in mind that using your CPF for business is a big decision with risks. However, it could also be a chance to get the capital you need to pursue your entrepreneurial goals.

12. Seek private investors

Private investors, including business angels and venture capital firms, often invest in restaurants by purchasing ownership shares. When pitching to an investor, ensure your restaurant concept is compelling.

13. Explore peer-to-peer lending

Explore peer-to-peer lending platforms for restaurant financing. These platforms offer quicker approvals and competitive rates compared to traditional banks. However, be mindful of the risk of loan defaults.

14. Consider crowdfunding

Crowdfunding involves raising small amounts from numerous individuals to support your business. Establish a reasonable fundraising target and articulate your restaurant concept in your crowdfunding campaign.

15. Start a home-based catering business

Commence a home-based catering business to prepare food in your kitchen. Ensure compliance with local regulations, which may mandate the use of a commercial kitchen for cooking. Starting small with catering events enables you to assess alignment with your restaurant aspirations.

16. Discuss expansion with your landlord

Explore options for expanding your current location by engaging in discussions with your landlord. If a suitable space is identified, consider offering shares in your restaurant in exchange for reduced rental fees. Ensure all agreements are clearly stipulated in the contract.

17. Seek support from your local restaurant association

Seek assistance from your local restaurant association, which advocates for the interests of the industry. They provide services such as training, research, networking, and marketing support to members.

18. Reduce operational costs

Minimise expenses related to food, staffing, and rent, the primary operational areas. Explore avenues for cost savings, such as implementing table-side ordering to reduce staffing costs and eliminating printed menus.

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