The first time I had the pleasure of visiting Cyprus was in 2002. I spend the whole winter on the Island. At that time I was working for a leading tour operator in their head office in Limassol.
It was a great way of getting to know the best restaurants and hotels on the Island but as well an excellent opportunity to understand what works best and where.
Later on I came back a few times for one of my own businesses which is dedicated to the import of gourmet products. I find the Island fascinating, especially the hospitality industry which developed like no other location. This makes your stay really unique.
Limassol is, without any doubt, the best place to start a restaurant business in Cyprus. It is the simple result of an analysis taking into account the characteristics of the infrastructure. A deeper study of hotel offers and existing restaurant businesses confirmed my personal and professional experience on the Island.
Choosing the right location when you plan to open a restaurant business is crucial and can determine the success of your whole project. However, when it comes to finding the best location on an island things are even more difficult.
Situated in the southern coast of Cyprus with a population of approximately 100,000 people, Limassol is by far the most developed and modern city in Cyprus.
Governors, Ladys Mile and the Kourion are the most popular beaches.
The Limassol Carnival and the Wine Festival are only two of the many festivals that the city organizes throughout the year.
The Port of Limassol is one of the busiest in the whole Mediterranean and the city is well connected to the other major towns on the Island, as well as to the International Airports of Larnaca and Paphos, both about 50 km away.
Of course Limassol is not the only place to take into consideration, but for sure it is the best one. Here your customers will be mostly tourists, but also some locals.
Paphos, Larnaca, Ayia Napa and Nicosia are the alternatives to consider, but only in-situ research will bring the particular pros and cons to the surface.
Depending on your business idea you will have to find out what type of place is your best option to succeed.
Some entrepreneurs decide to attract their clients to almost totally isolated places and offer a unique gastro experience.
If you bring enough experience with you from the industry and have a good financial cushion in order to absorb the pressure at the beginning until your business becomes profitable, then you can take this risk.
If you don’t have this cushion of experience and investment, I recommend you to start where you can guarantee a minimum of income that will not put you under financial pressure.
I always like to remember that if you run out of cash, you are out of business.
To understand more about Cyprus let’s dive a bit deeper into the details:
Tourism on Cyprus
As you can see yourself on wikipedia, nearly four million people visit Cyprus every year, of which 35% come from Britain, 20% from Russia, 5% from Israel and the remainder from Germany, Greece and Sweden, with minor numbers from Poland, Switzerland, Ukraine and Romania and others.
These numbers can be a guideline to what type of clients, apart from locals, you can expect at your future business.
Very often big tour operators concentrate the flow of visitors to single areas. Within these areas there are hotels or entire sub-zones where operators from different countries send their guests.
So for example you can find an entire hotel or resort with almost 80 to 90% British guests or only Russian guests. However, in most cases we´ll find clients from various counties in the same resort/hotel.
As a future restaurant owner you must take into account the location of these resorts and hotel areas. They often offer all inclusive packages to their clients. This could penalize your business and should be taken into consideration from the first moment.
Most popular type of restaurants / tavernas
According to Tripadvisor the most visited restaurants in Cyprus are those offering traditional greek food, followed by Italian restaurants and pizza, followed by steakhouses and others. Of course the best seller is seafood.
These numbers are valid for all the south coast where we find the biggest touristic infrastructure. However for Nicosia, you might take into consideration the turkish offer too.
A Mediterranean matter
Like its big brother Greece and other mediterranean countries like Italy or Spain, Cyprus is part of the Mediterranean food style family.
From olives to tomatoes and chickpeas (humus), to sheep cheese and roasted lamb, the offer of healthy products is big and the tradition has deep roots.
Colorful Vegetables on Wooden Background
Of course Olive oil, wine and all types of citrus fruits are present and the Island offers an enviable range of healthy, quality products.
Opening a new restaurant from scratch can be a real challenge if you underestimate the local and existing offer. Appropriate due diligence is a must here in order to succeed with a new project.
What are the Benefits of living in Cyprus
Cyprus offers one of the lowest company taxes within the European Union. A reasonable and progressive personal taxation makes Cyprus very attractive even to individuals.
Warm summers, but especially mild winters make the island attractive, especially for tourists from northern and eastern Europe.
The Mediterranean lifestyle mixed with a touch of oriental flair gives this island a special and unique touch.
What type of raw products can I find on the market
Halloumi cheese, which is a mixture of goat’s and sheep milk is probably Cyprus’ most famous product. However the list of typical products is long.
Vegetables such as green beans, courgettes, artichokes, green peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, ocra, lettuce and grape leaves are stars.
And pulses such as beans, black-eyed beans, broad beans, lentils, peas and chick-peas form the base of the Mediterranean diet. Common fruits and nuts are pears, grapes, apples, mandarines, oranges, nectarines, blackberries, medlar, figs, cherry, strawberries, watermelon, melon, lemon, chestnut, avocado, pistachio, almond, walnut, and hazelnut.
Does Cyprus produce Wine?
The history of the most famous wine made in Cyprus goes back to the 12th century. This is when the “Commandaria” is first mentioned. It is a sweet dessert wine made from sun-dried grapes.
However, according to historians, Cyprus was the first winemaker in the Mediterranean. Don’t miss a visit to the wine museum in the village of Erimi that gives a fascinating insight into the winemaking history of Cyprus. Many wine companies offer wine tours and tastings.
The infrastructure and commercial aspects of Limassol, combined with an established tourism industry rich in cultural activities, make this town the perfect place to start any business, but especially a Restaurant Business.