A Restaurant that Started as a Part-Time Delivery Service

They are now out of business and have been for some years: Velo Burrito Bows Out of Business After Three Years. But their story is really interesting because restaurants tend to be high risk, low profit margins, have high failure rates and so forth.

This is why chain restaurants are so popular: Starting a new restaurant from scratch is enormously challenging and risky. You can flush a lot of money down the drain and never be successful or you can buy a franchise and get help succeeding and have vastly better odds of actually being successful.

Velo Burrito is the only case I personally know of where it started smaller than a regular restaurant and grew into a regular restaurant. It didn't last very long, so maybe they should have stuck with being a part-time burrito delivery service, but I still find it fascinating as a rare example of finding a way to start small and independently in a business domain where that's believed to be simply impossible.

I wrote a piece about them a few years back. Below is an edited (shortened) version of that:

Velo Burrito is a small business in Montreal. It started as a very part-time vegetarian burrito delivery service where the burritos were delivered by bike. (Vélo means "bicycle" in French.) It relatively quickly grew into a full-time restaurant. They began as a green business and, presumably, intend to remain such.

The three founders were working as bike messengers by day. One of them already had ten years experience as a cook. Another had a background as a musician who had gone vegetarian while touring with his band. Touring is also part of what made him a fan of a good burrito.

They discussed the concept for years and then one day one of them announced they were going to the grocery store that day and launching that weekend. Initially, they only delivered burritos two nights a week. One article seems to suggest they later went to three or four nights a week. They eventually opened up as a restaurants with 20 tables.

These were my sources. I am including them all and not bothering to check if the links still work.

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