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Hi Pam

A cafe / takeaway is hard work, often 6-7 days a week; it is labour intensive and usually very competitive. Competition generally comes from similar independent businesses, coffee shops, franchise chains and mobile vans (particularly in industrial areas). Competition keeps margins generally low which requires high volume of customers. Customer flow is not evenly distributed. There are chaotic rush hours which impacts on staffing and preparation. It is often hard to find and retain good staff. Food costs, portions & wastage need to be closely controlled, even when frantically busy. I am not meaning to be critical or pessimistic, just realistic.

I would also run a mile if a person selling a business refused to show me the financial docs. It is hard to know the reason for the reluctance but bear in mind that it is easy for owners in cash-based businesses to take cash from the till and never bank it or record it. Not only is this practice flirting with danger from the tax office, the owner can’t substantiate the value of the business when it comes time to sell, unless he / she keeps a second set of books. And who wants to admit that to a stranger? That said, I would avoid that business and keep looking.

My advice is take your time and look for an opportunity that plays to your strengths. Don’t force it; you’ll find the right path for you. Meanwhile, if you want to find out what it is like to work in a business like this, find employment for a while in a cafe / takeaway shop.

Best wishes

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