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What is a Chiringuito?

Learn about the history of and how to start a chiringuito, as well as what kind of food one offers.

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A chiringuito is a small beach restaurant or bar. Learn about the history of and how to start a chiringuito, as well as what kind of food one offers.

What is a Chiringuito?

A chiringuito refers to a small restaurant or bar that is usually on a beach and primarily sells drinks and tapas, small appetizers, or snack foods. A chiringuito is generally known as a beach bar. They are usually on the more expensive side due to their location right on the beach. 

A chiringuito is usually a small structure located in popular areas where tourists and locals will go during the summer or warmer months, such as a beach or waterfront, so they might not be open year-round. A chiringuito usually has unassuming décor, with possibly shaded seating under umbrellas or an awning.

What is the history of Chiringuitos?

The word “chiringuito” is Spanish and because the “u” is silent, it is pronounced, “chee-reeng-gee-toh.” The term was brought to Spain by the “Los Indianos,” which refers to Spanish people who went to work in South and Central America and later returned. While they were in South America, the Indianos were working on farms and learned to make a coffee drink that consisted of blending coffee and sugar cane. After pressing this mixture into hot water, it turned into what was called, “chiringo.” 

In 1949, these now wealthy Indianos returned to Spain and settled in the coastal town of Sitges. As tourism grew in the area, beach visitors were seeking refreshing drinks to hydrate from the hot sun – and so the first beach kiosk was opened. It was called a “chiringuito” because the wealthy Indianos often used the term to order a coffee, thus it became known as a popular drink sold at these beach shacks. The term officially became part of Spanish culture when it was added to the Spanish dictionary in 1983.

What is typically on the menu at a Chiringuito?

Commonly known as beach shacks or bars, a chiringuito typically sells a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. They usually sell tapas, which is the Spanish term for small plates or appetizers, although some may offer salads and sandwiches too. Because of their proximity to the ocean, a chiringuito typically sells a variety of fresh fish dishes and salads consisting of a mix of local vegetables. In general, you can expect to see chilled beer and wine offered at a chiringuito, in addition to cocktails, such as mojitos.

How do you start a Chiringuito?

A chiringuito would usually be considered a small restaurant concept, and to start one, you will first need to write a business plan. Other steps include finding a location, securing financing, and designing your food menu. You will also need to obtain a health department permit, a food handler’s license, and a food sales permit, among other steps. And, since one of the main purposes of a chiringuito is to sell beverages, including alcoholic ones, you’ll need to find an alcohol supplier and obtain a liquor license. 

Since a chiringuito is a small restaurant concept known for its beach location or proximity to the ocean, the best way to start one is to find a spot on the beach. Depending on zoning and permit laws in your town, you may or may not be able to have your location actually be on the beach. If you cannot open a chiringuito on the beach, look for a small location that’s as close to it as possible – like a sidewalk or boardwalk nearby.

How much does it cost to start a Chiringuito?

A chiringuito is basically a small bar. The start-up costs could be lower than the average costs of opening a bar, which range between $110,000 and $850,000. You will need a liquor license to open a chiringuito too, which can cost from $945 to over $16,000, depending on your license priority and location. 

Since a chiringuito is a small space, you should be able to lower your initial costs depending on the size, location, and whether you are buying or leasing. The good news is you do not have to spend too much on the décor – most chiringuitos are simple and unassuming. Plus, if you stick to the tradition of only serving snacks and appetizers, equipment, inventory, and other costs may be lower.

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