Idea Overview:
Canto Cuervo Snack Shop is an artfully-curated vegetarian and vegan café and community gathering place; serving homemade sweet and savory treats alongside storytelling and open mike nights, art openings and other creative performance. Our focus will be on serving healthy, from-scratch fare such as soups, salads, sandwiches plus an array of fresh juices, agua frescas, teas and espressos. We will become a late-night destination, where one can enjoy lively entertainment and bright flavors in an alcohol-free, meat-free environment.
Who might use it/where it might be used?:
There is an ever-increasing demand for plant-based, health-conscious, and eco-conscious foods. Our clientele will include not just vegetarians and vegans, but also “flexitarians” who consciously seek out veggie options when dining out. We will also have offerings for people with special health needs–whether diabetics, heart-health or gluten-free. Our marketing and advertising will highlight those aspects of our menu, and we will offer a comfortable dining area to eat in, as well as cater to families and individuals on the go.
The Market (B2B, B2C or Both):
Sector the idea belongs to:
Is there a similar idea to be found?:
While there are currently two purely vegan restaurants in Tacoma, they are relatively specific in their markets; one is more “high-end,” while the other is more “Caribbean diner”. Other restaurants may offer one or two vegetarian options, but this is often a factory-frozen fake meat patty or an unimaginative salad. Within a 25-mile radius of Tacoma, there are zero ovo-lacto vegetarian restaurants that fill the niche for a health-minded, community-oriented café.
Why you think there is a demand for your idea?:
In speaking to dozens of people about this idea, there is great enthusiasm for a late-night veggie café–not just from vegetarians and vegans, but also from people with cultural or religious reasons for eating less meat, as well as people who want to eat healthier. Many cities, small and large, have at least a couple of nice health-conscious dining options, and yet this is a market that has not yet been fully tapped in Tacoma.
Who would be the ideal customers?:
Our ideal customer base includes people who are health-conscious and tired of fast food, people looking to eat less meat, whether for health, ethical, or cultural reasons, active people who don't want to lose their "gym gains," creatives who enjoy an artistic communal space, and families on the go who want to eat healthy, casual fare for lunch, dinner or snack time. Another core part of our customer base will be people already practicing a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian lifestyle, and who are looking for new and creative dining experiences.
What ideas do you have to reach these customers?:
Beginning with a well-designed website with clear information about our vision and offerings, including great photography. I will continue to promote business by speaking with community members such as gym members/owners and professionals in the education, medical and human service fields, passing business cards with a QR code to my website. I will also seek to advertise on at least 1-2 social media sites such as Yelp, Google, Facebook or Instagram. With my skills in design and photography, I will present our café with beautiful food pics and targeted marketing specials such as "Teacher Tuesdays," "picnic baskets" for people on the go, catered office lunches, and more.
How far have you developed this idea?:
I have written a detailed business plan that includes opening costs, labor costs, 3 year P & L projection, as well as considerations for potential markets and competition. I have developed a website with strong and clear information about myself, my vision, mission, food, and design objectives. I am working on adding more photography, but the website is largely complete at this point.
What – if any – feedback have you had for this idea so far?:
I have spoken to several industry professionals/current restaurant owners, and while most have said that this is a tough industry that will require constant hard work, they have also been encouraging to my idea, recognizing that this is an untapped market with huge potential. Feedback from potential customers has also been extremely supportive. People have cited many reasons for their enthusiasm, including a desire to eat less meat or junk foods, eat more healthfully, or to follow their religious (often Buddhist) beliefs Although vegetarians make up about 5-10% of the American population, many more are interested in plant-based or vegetarian options.
What supporting material – if any - would you like to add to your proposal?:
Please visit cantocuervo.com to learn more about my concept and vision. Here you will find a couple different menu options as well as ongoing updates of food photos.

Feel free to share this idea on your social media using the icons to your right

More Details

You must be logged in to access this information.

Supporting Files

You must be logged in to access this information.

You must be logged in to leave a comment. You can register for an account here.

8 comments to “Canto Cuervo Snack Shop: A Vegetarian & Vegan Gallery-Café”

You can leave a reply or Trackback this post.

  1. Bill Murray - February 25, 2023 at 3:06 am

    Hello Britt– you have a great vision for this idea. The most important thing right now is to figure out if it inspires a customer enough to part with their time and money to support it. Here’s the wrong way to do that: have a bunch of people tell you that it’s a good idea, spend tens of thousands of dollars on a restaurant, only to find out that your customer’s “do” didn’t match their “say”. I lost a mortgage payment on a situation like that once and won’t ever forget it. For you, the stakes are much higher. I had a friend who wanted to start a family “agri-tainment” business. She thought the only way to test it was to drop $250,000 on a farmette and buy some goats and chickens and invite the community to pay to come see it. I talked her into scaling that back to the outcomes she wanted for her customer, and she rented some tents, hay bales, and the like and held a few events at the county park. Despite many people saying that they’d be there, few showed up, even for a free event. She was heartbroken, but at least she wasn’t bankrupted as well. Britt, I give you the same challenge: rent a little tent or food cart and get a local band, and have a couple of events at some local public spaces. Sell your food and your larger value prop. See who comes, and what they buy. Talk with them. Challenge them to share their experience socially, and promote a customer vote on the location, entertainment, and food choices for the next event. Have that second event (if it looks like people are engaged) and see if people repeat visit– and bring others along. Then decide on scaling up to a permanent venue. Fall in love with your customer’s wants and needs. Test your idea against those. Not going bankrupt with your first idea allows you to survive to your next idea. And maybe that’s the one that will really stick!

    • Britt Vargas - February 27, 2023 at 4:14 pm

      Hi Bill, thank you so much for your thoughtful remarks and for sharing your story. While I do have this grand vision in mind, I agree that I need to find smaller “steps” to work myself up to the final brick and mortar space. I am currently looking into ways to enter into local art fairs or farmer’s markets to begin promoting the idea. I also like your idea of gathering feedback from potential customers. I do have lots of ideas on what I could serve, between breakfast/lunch/dinner or snacks and drinks, but as you said, it is up to the customer on what will sell and what won’t. Many thanks, Britt

  2. Elijah Mason - February 25, 2023 at 5:59 am

    Hey hey Britt,

    I agree that the demand for healthier dining options is rapidly growing so I like the market timing, but who would make this happen/what are all of the pieces needed to make this idea happen? The idea and vision makes sense but are you the expert in this space making the recipes? Is there a vendor you have in mind that you’ll be sourcing from?

    Thank you for your idea and courage to get this out there! It’s motivating and inspiring to young entrepreneurs like myself!

    • Britt Vargas - February 27, 2023 at 4:25 pm

      Hey Elijah,
      Thank you for your words of encouragement! As a matter of fact, I do strongly believe that the food I cook and the recipes I’ve developed will provide a solid direction for the fresh and healthy menus I have in mind. But, as you mentioned, there does need to be more than just me putting this whole grand plan into place. I hope that through this process, and through networking with other entrepreneurs, I will meet people who might be interested in joining me as experts in the business side of things.
      I do have a background in social work and education, so I feel confident in my ability to train and empower a team to come in and run with my vision.
      I am also seeking to ultimately hand the kitchen management over to a chef with a strong knowledge of healthy and vegetarian foods, so this will be a focus once I begin the hiring process.
      Best wishes in your own business ventures as well!

  3. Tim Strege - February 25, 2023 at 9:44 pm

    Britt, I like your menu ideas and you have a great slogan: “Food for the soul, cooked from the heart.” You have obviously thought a lot about this business, with creative food options and related people-oriented social activities. So…..before you put money into a restaurant site, maybe showcase your cooking skills and knowledge of healthy ingredients via “pop up” locations, catered events, small food stall and/or at special occasions hosted by sponsors. Would one of our area colleges allow you a place on-campus or with a food truck? This will provide a “try out” period to test the market for your food options, pricing and other customer feedback.

    • Britt Vargas - February 27, 2023 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Tim,
      I appreciate your feedback and suggestions. This is exactly where I am headed. As spring and summer are rolling around, I think I’m at a good point to look at ways to connect with the community, through pop-ups or catered events as you mentioned. Thanks to William Factory and other outside networking, I have made some great connections with people in “the biz,” and I do believe that at least one of these may lead to more opportunities to get myself out there.
      Be on the lookout for Canto Cuervo pop-ups in the near future! 🙂
      Cheers, Britt

  4. Mario L Castellanos - February 27, 2023 at 1:42 pm

    Good for you that you’ve done your research. From personal experience as a past one myself, I concur with those owners you’ve spoken with in the food serving industry – it’s very hard work. I also like your idea of “storytelling and open mike nights, art openings and other creative performance”. It lends itself to this concept. I’ll give you more to research. Look-up “beatnik”, Greenwhich Village” and “beatnik cafés”.. It seems to me you’re creating a modern version of this. What you have in mind is a niche market but a viable one none the less. Perhaps with a little inspiration taken from the 60’s, you can gain the attention of whole new generations.

    • Britt Vargas - February 27, 2023 at 4:45 pm

      Hello Mario!
      You know exactly the kind of vibe I am trying to create! I am very familiar with the beatnik era, and was fortunate to have visited Greenwich Village. (Though it was in the early 2000’s, so not quite the same as when Dylan and Ginsburg were hanging out 😉 ) But as a matter of fact, my true inspiration has been a couple of cafes in Chicago that I frequented in my teens and twenties, where cool jazz and spoken word were happening nightly.
      I think we are seeing more than ever that history repeats itself, and we are due for a new era of artsy hangouts in these ever turbulent times. I’ve always felt like an “old soul,” and wished I could have been a part of the 60s scene. This is why I am so excited to be creating this type of space for the modern era!
      Your comments and encouragement are very much appreciated.
      Peace, Britt