On the Line / Casual Dining / What is a Greasy Spoon?

What is a Greasy Spoon?

Learn more about what a greasy spoon is, what you can find on the menu, how to start one, and where the term comes from.

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A greasy spoon is a small restaurant that mostly serves fried, greasy foods. Learn more about what a greasy spoon is, what you can find on the menu, how to start one, and where the term comes from.

What is a Greasy Spoon?

The term “greasy spoon” refers to a small restaurant that is usually affordable and primarily serves foods that are considered to be greasy, such as fried foods. It’s similar to a diner in America, or a café in Britain or Ireland.

What is the history of Greasy Spoons?

The term “greasy spoon,” was first used in 1902 and is a common term in America and the United Kingdom. It was originally used as a more derogatory term to describe a cheap, dirty, or unclean restaurant. In fact, the term “greasy spoon” can date back to the 1800s for the idea of referring to a restaurant or place, as being dirty, “like an unwashed, greasy spoon.” 

The term became more nostalgic during the 1970s and is now often used in a more endearing way to describe the charm of a diner or café where simple, affordable comfort foods are served.

What is typically on the menu at a Greasy Spoon?

A restaurant considered a greasy spoon serves heavier, comfort foods that are usually fried. Think diner food: fried or scrambled eggs, bacon, omelets, fried chicken, grilled cheese, pancakes, fish and chips, or spam and sausages.

How do you start a Greasy Spoon?

A greasy spoon 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.

How much does it cost to start a Greasy Spoon?

Since a greasy spoon would be considered a smaller restaurant, the start-up costs could range from as little as $175,000 to well over $700,000. But, keep in mind that the average price per square foot is between $100 and $800, with the median at $450. 

If you want to open a small restaurant greasy spoon, you should also consider your budget for commercial equipment. A greasy spoon will require you to invest in equipment such as an oven with a hood, frying equipment, grease traps, a commercial dishwasher, and other cooking equipment. You could reduce the costs if you buy old or used equipment, but experts say a restaurant’s kitchen equipment can cost anywhere between $40,000 and $200,000.

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