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What is an Osteria?

An osteria is a restaurant type referring to a place that sells wine and a limited menu of simple foods.

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An osteria is a restaurant type referring to a place that sells wine and a limited menu of simple foods. Keep reading to learn about the history of and how to start an osteria, as well as what kind of food and atmosphere an osteria offers.

What is Osteria?

An osteria (pronounced oh-stare-ree-ah) refers to a restaurant that primarily sells a selection of different wines along with some simple foods. They are usually cheap or affordable small restaurant spaces with unassuming décor and communal tables. 

What is the history of the term “osteria”?

The term osteria is Italian and was historically used to define a place where wine was sold. Some osterias would serve light meals or allow you to bring your own food. But, traditionally, most osterias only sold wine and may be considered equivalent to a wine bar today. The oldest osteria is Osteria del Sole, located in Bologna, and has been open since 1465. It only sells a selection of wine and beer but allows people to bring their own food.

What is typically on the menu at an osteria?

The main item sold at an osteria is wine, though some now sell craft beer selections too. Although osterias traditionally only served light snack items, nowadays, most osterias offer a simple menu usually featuring light fares such as salad, roasted vegetables, small pasta portions, fresh bread with oil, and local specialties, like grilled meat or fish. Any food items offered are typically a small, appetizer-sized portion.

How do you start an osteria?

An osteria is a small restaurant concept and to start one, you will first need to write a small business plan, find a location, and design your food menu. Since the main purpose of an osteria is to sell wine, to start one, you will need to find a good wine supplier and obtain a liquor license. 

If you do decide to offer a food menu, you will also need to obtain a food handler’s license and a food sales permit. And, of course, be sure to confirm the location you want is zoned for the sale of alcohol – a true osteria must sell wine. Moreover, an osteria is usually a laid-back, friendly atmosphere, so look for a small space in a neighborhood or community that could use a communal eatery and wine bar.

How much does it cost to start an osteria?

An osteria is a small restaurant, so the start-up costs can range from as little as $175,000 to well over $700,000. Typically, the average price per square foot is between $100 and $800 with the median at $450 – so really consider the size you need for an osteria. You will need a liquor license to open an osteria, which can cost from $945 to over $16,000, depending on your license priority and location. Since an osteria is typically a small space, you should be able to lower your initial costs depending on the size, location, and whether you are buying or leasing. You can keep the cost of starting your osteria down if you follow the traditional business plan of selling wine and light snacks, and allowing people to bring their own food.

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