Open a Partner Cafe. 3 important steps to be successful

A companionable cafe is a cultural place of meeting and enjoyment. It can take different forms and target different audiences. Are you already the manager of an association or do you have a collaborative project and want to open an affiliate cafe? The steps vary depending on the nature of your project. Our guide explains everything in detail. From legal obligations to actions to follow, including all of our tips for success.

What are the rules for opening an associate cafe?

The rules for organizing an association cafe depend on the setting in which your association cafe is held and the audience you expect to receive.

A distinction is made between associate cafes that open occasionally during an event (sporting event, fair, exhibition, etc.) and those that are open throughout the year.

Associations are in fact authorized to organize an associate cafe on an ad-hoc basis up to 5 times in a year. Beverages served may only be in Category 1, 2 and 3. You must obtain ministerial approval to serve alcoholic beverages. You must also notify your municipality’s town hall at least 15 days before the event. If the associate cafe is open for an event organized by public authorities, you can obtain authorization to serve any type of beverage by notifying the organizers as well as the city mayor.

Associated cafes that are open year-round come in two types:

  • open to the public;
  • Exclusively reserved for members of the Managing Union.

If your association cafe is reserved for members of your association, the procedures are simple. You should only sell low- or no-alcoholic beverages and make sure you don’t make a profit. In this case, you only need to respect the notices related to the protection of minors from the consumption of alcohol. You must obtain a specific license if you wish to sell alcoholic beverages belonging to Category IV.


If your association cafe is open to the public, the rules are more complicated. Then you are acting as a business activity. As a result, you must obtain a drink outlet license and comply with a number of related obligations (posting, licensing, training, sanitation, etc.).

Our Tips for Successfully Opening Your Association Cafe

1 – Work on your concept

The concept of your associate cafe needs to be carefully considered. Why are you opening a cafe within your union? What will be the expectations from your members and your audience? It must be clearly linked to the activity of your union and therefore be consistent with its functioning.

If you are opening your own public association cafe, it is a good idea to do market research to find out about the competition. This will allow you to find an original concept that sets you apart from the competition. An associate cafe reserved for its members must meet their expectations and be in line with the project in order to foster the association’s spirit of solidarity.

2 – Choose a suitable location

The choice of the location of your partner cafe is essential. If you’re open to the public, a location in the center of town or a busy and visible location will allow you to make yourself known more quickly. The concept of your affiliate cafe may also determine your location. An associate cafe reserved for members of a sports federation would find its place in or near a training venue, a student union cafe would be located near universities, an associate cafe for parents would reach its goal by being close to schools, Etcetera …

Obviously, your budget will also affect the choice of location for your associate cafe. The most popular places are often the most expensive! So it is a matter of finding the right compromise between ideal location and cost.

3 – Estimate your financial forecasts

It is essential to prepare a business plan that includes a thorough and predictable financial analysis of your cafe’s activity. Whether you want to run your affiliate cafe as a commercial activity or whether it is simply a non-profit space, you need to master the economic and financial aspect. The business plan makes it possible to estimate the costs and turnover required at launch and to cover them in the coming years.

You’ll find out what financing solutions you need to access to get started: bank loans, public assistance, crowdfunding…

What are the formalities to open Associate Cafe?

legal formalities

The choice of legal form of your Affiliate Cafe is, as its name suggests, association. If you haven’t already done so, you will need to form your own union. You can choose to do this alone or together. Other options, an online or even a local lawyer or accountant can complete the legal formalities for you.

You must also announce the opening of your affiliate cafe in your town hall at least 15 days in advance.

coffee standards compliance

In order to legally manage your Association Cafe, a certain number of obligations must be respected. They mainly depend on the audience you serve and the products you sell.

If your association cafe is open to the public, you must have an operating permit. This is achieved by training from 6 am to 8 pm. A liquor license is required if you sell alcoholic beverages. You must also respect the mandatory display of a list of drinks and menus (indicating the origin of the ingredients and allergies) inside and outside the cafe.


A poster related to the prohibition of smoking along with the protection of minors against the consumption of alcohol is also mandatory.

In terms of cleanliness and safety, your cafe must comply with obligations related to safety and public reception: evacuation rules, lighting, access for people with reduced mobility, etc. Finally, if you sell food, take a minimum of 14 hours of HACCP training related to food hygiene. Required to be able to sell food.

Get the right professional insurance

In order to protect itself from the many risks associated with managing an Association Cafe, it is essential for the Association to take suitable insurance. Specifically, you must choose minimum professional liability insurance. But a professional multiple-exposure is more complete and therefore more reasonable, as it specifically covers the premises.

What budget should you plan for opening an associate cafe?

The budget for opening an associate cafe varies according to your project. Here are some estimates to help you estimate the budget needed:

  • Local : Calculate at least €2,000 and up to €50,000 for the acquisition of premises and any work;
  • cash To get started, plan on having between €5,000 and €15,000 in cash, depending on the size of the project;
  • Map : Estimated between €10,000 and €25,000 for equipment, furniture, decorations, etc.

These figures obviously vary by projects and the constitution of your business plan will help you refine your budget.

general question

What is an Ally Cafe?

An associate cafe is a one-time meeting place or open year-round amongst the members of an association and/or the general public, which may sell food and drink to the non-profit.

What are the steps taken to open Associate Cafe?

To open an association cafe, you will need to form an association, obtain an operating license and obtain a liquor store license if you sell liquor. Before opening, you must comply with posting, safety, hygiene and safety obligations for minors.

How much budget to open associate cafe?

The budget varies greatly depending on the project and ranges between €10,000 and €100,000.

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