Kairosoft has really run the gamut of management games. Managing kingdoms? Done that. Cities? Yup. Airports? Convenience stores? Yes and yes. But all of these are wide management sims. So this time, we’re going into the finer details of management, and what better way to do that than by focusing on the microcosm of a roadside cafe?
In Cafe Master Story, you’ll be managing the finer points of running a cafe. There’s a lot to do and a lot to learn, from improving the quality of chairs to the taste of coffee and what’s on today’s menu. You’ll need to grow from a small, quaint cafe into an expansive metropolitan titan. If you’ve ever wanted to build your own coffee (and toast, and salad, and…well, everything) enterprise from the ground up, you can get the game on the Google Play Store and the App Store. Those looking for a PC release – yes, it’s happening – will have to wait a while, but you can wishlist the game on Steam.
As with most Kairosoft titles, Cafe Master Story is a paid game. This also means that there are no intrusive ads and especially no microtransactions. And as with most Kairosoft games, there’s a lot to go through. While it’s possible to just coast through the game, knowing what you need to do, how to maximize your profits, and how to optimize your staff can help you build the cafe of your dreams much faster!
In this beginner’s guide to Cafe Master Story, we’ll be going over:
- Making money on the cafe level: increasing your profits, improving quality and customer experience, and lowering overhead costs.
- Making money on the customer level: learning how important satisfaction and charm are, raising them, and dealing with your customers’ troubles.
- Optimal staff management. Everyone is good at something!
- Research and development. Constantly improving your business is key, whether it’s via mixing your own drinks, participating (and winning) in contests, or increasing your star rank.
As with other Kairosoft titles, there are a lot of overlapping concepts, so don’t be surprised if you see a particular aspect of the game continually brought up!
Making Money: The Cafe Level
They say that teamwork makes the dream work, but that’s just half the equation. You need manpower, true, but you’ll also need capital – after all, a dream cafe won’t just pop out of the ground. Thus, it’s important to understand the basics of making money via your cafe in Cafe Master Story.
- Customers will automatically order food and drink in your cafe. They will sit, order food, then leave when they’re finished.
- The number that appears beside a customer’s order indicates how many of those items they want. Bulk orders will earn you more money.
- You can help your staff by tapping on blue bubbles that appear on tables after a customer leaves. This cleans the table and nets you some research points. Note that your staff will clean up tables regardless, it’s just faster to do it this way.
- Employees are divided into either kitchen/cashier staff or waiters. You can add more slots to either area via Menu -> Manage -> Manage Staff -> Edit Placement. You need research points to get more slots.
- If things slow to a crawl, consider hiring more staff and investing in more space.
- You can put items on the specials board to boost their popularity, making customers more likely to order those items.
- Some facilities require customers to pay to use them.
- Customers can still choose to use facilities even if they ordered something. Other customers will only go in to use your facilities. The more facilities you have, the better as you’ll attract a larger customer base.
- Each facility has up to four stats – quality, charm, use fee, and compatibility. Quality affects base satisfaction gain, charm affects satisfaction gain and use fee, use fee is how much a customer pays to use that facility, and compatibility affects the satisfaction gain of certain age groups.
- Better facilities have higher base stats.
- You can use items to boost the stats of your existing facilities. Items and facilities have different compatibilities, so try using your items on different facilities.
- You can get items from the Pumpkin Shop, from happy customers, from contests, and occasionally from resolving customer troubles.
- Each facility you place has a monthly maintenance fee. Put only as many facilities as you need – particularly tables and chairs – to minimize your maintenance costs.
The simplest way to make money in Cafe Master Story is to sell food and drinks. Easy, right?
You don’t even need to do anything to turn the wheels of your business. Customers will enter of their own volition, order, and pay at the counter when they’re finished. Note that customers do not necessarily order just one of an item. The number that appears beside the item’s icon when they give their orders indicates how many of that item they want. Thus, expect revenues in the thousands from the get-go.
Mind, there are a few things you can do to help your workers out. While you can’t do anything with the ordering process, you can help with cleanup. Any empty table that has cups, plates, or other utensils on it will need to be bussed. Your workers will do this automatically, but you can help by tapping on the blue icon when it appears. This can also indirectly lead to more customers as you’ll be able to help clear tables faster.
This also nets you a few research points – those musical notes on the upper right – which are important for developing new facilities and offerings as well as expanding your cafe.
Falling into the understaffing trap is very easy in Cafe Master Story. After all, bulk orders are nice to watch as they can reel in tens of thousands of gold in a single transaction. At the same time, bulk orders are more difficult to deliver, and your chefs will need time to prepare their orders.
Keep a close eye on your staff – if things are moving slowly, you may want to hire more employees to lighten the workload or increase the number of slots in both the kitchen and the floor. To do this, go to Menu -> Manage -> Manage Staff -> Edit Placement. You’ll need to pay research points to unlock more slots. Some slots also require you to have hit a certain star rank, so keep hitting those goals!
The Specials Board
The specials board is one of the few ways you can interact with the ordering process.
Items you place on the specials board will enjoy a hefty bump in their popularity, thus making customers order them more. This is a great way to squeeze money out of your customers by placing only the most expensive items on the board.
The game may be named “Cafe Master Story”, but that doesn’t mean that we can only sell refreshments. By adding varied facilities to your cafe, you’ll be able to not only rake in more cash but also appeal to a wider target market.
As with customers ordering refreshments, it’s a hands-off process for you – you don’t even have to clean up after them. Each facility has a use fee that the customer pays to access that facility. The more popular a facility is, the more people will use it, and the more money you’ll rake in!
Note that customers can opt to not buy anything and instead only use facilities. Thus, it’s a good idea to install any new facilities you get as soon as you can as they’ll not only start generating money sooner but also contribute to user satisfaction – which we’ll discuss in the “Making Money: The Customer Level” section!
Quality, Charm, and Compatibility
It’s not enough to have a good menu. By improving the quality of your facilities, you’ll get a lot more mileage out of them. Happier customers pay more, after all!
Each facility has up to four stats – quality, charm, use fee, and compatibility. I said “up to four stats” as some facilities do not have use fees, such as tables. Each of these affects different aspects of the customer experience:
- Quality affects the base satisfaction a customer gains when using this facility.
- Charm affects use fee and satisfaction. We’ll discuss charm in more detail in the “Making Money: The Customer Level” section.
- Use fee is how much a customer pays to use that facility.
- Compatibility is a table that shows you the compatibility of certain age groups with a facility. The higher the compatibility, the more satisfaction gained.
In general, the higher the quality (and the price tag) of a facility, the better its base stats. However, there’s another way to raise these stats – particularly quality as it serves as the base stat – and that’s by using items.
By using an item on a facility, you can boost its quality and use fees which directly improves customer satisfaction and nets you more money. The more compatible an item is with a facility, the bigger the quality gain. However, you’ll have to experiment as there’s no way to know what the results will be until you give the item.
To use an item on a facility, tap that facility then tap “Use Item” on the info panel.
After using a certain item on a facility for the first item, the game will record the interaction. A star means high compatibility while a flat bar means average compatibility. Because these results are saved, you’ll be able to easily see which items benefit which facilities the most, thus allowing you to maximize your quality gains!
Getting items is easy, too. The fastest (but priciest) way to get them is to visit the Pumpkin Shop via the “Store” button in the menu. The Pumpkin salesman only carries limited stocks of items and he’ll restock at the beginning of each month, so be sure to snap up his merchandise if you’re looking to make a big quality push. If you don’t want to shell out money for items, you also get them from contests, happy customers, and occasionally from solving customer troubles.
Expand Only as Needed
Connie Brewster will urge you to place some new seats for customers as possible. While it’s good advice, remember to temper your creative and/or manic urges as each facility in your cafe has a maintenance cost.
Because of this, it’s financially prudent to only place more active facilities – especially tables and chairs – when needed. At the beginning of Cafe Master Story, you’ll have to work hard to get regular business, so try and keep maintenance on the low side until your income stream stabilizes. You’ll also get a warning if there aren’t enough tables in your cafe, so pay close attention to the ticker at the bottom of the screen if you plan to cut costs this way.
Maintenance costs are paid at the end of the day/month.
Making Money: The Customer Level
Creating a good storefront with the best offerings is just the beginning. To succeed in your quest to build the best cafe and elevate yourself to a five-star rank, you’ll need to take an active interest in your customers. Whether that means ensuring that your facilities are up to snuff, your seats are comfortable, your drinks refreshing and your meals satisfying, you’ll need to be on top of all these facets of customer care.
- Customers gain satisfaction when using your facilities. The more satisfaction they accrue, the more likely they are to become regulars. Regulars drop by more often and pay more, so they’re a fantastic source of income.
- The more satisfaction a customer has, the higher its regularity becomes. The higher the regularity, the more often they’ll appear to patronize your business.
- Satisfaction progress is shared between all customers of a certain type.
- Each customer type has a budget that they will not exceed. Keep raising satisfaction to coax them to raise their budget.
- It’s a good idea to keep some cheap items on your specials menu to appeal to new customers that have low regularity.
- Use charm to boost satisfaction gain. Charm is acquired by placing decorations and keeping facilities within said decoration’s AOE.
- Charm also increases the use fee of facilities that have one.
- Regulars will bring their troubles to your cafe.
- There are two kinds of troubles: food/drink requests and reservations.
- Food/drink requests require you to select 3 items to give to that customer. Pay close attention to their request as the text often contains hints on what items would be best.
- Reservation requests involve granting exclusive use of a table to a customer. Said customer will arrive next month and will spend the whole day in your cafe. Fill their satisfaction all the way to clear their request.
- Customers that arrive via reservation will still pay for food/drink and facilities, meaning that you can earn quite a bit from these troubles.
- Solving troubles gives you prizes such as new menu items, new customer types, or even just items.
- It costs gold to start trouble resolution. If you fail, you can try again so long as you can pay the fee.
First impressions are very important in real life. After all, if a restaurant didn’t wow you the first time you went to eat there, you’d be less likely to visit again, right?
All customers have a satisfaction bar that fills up after they patronize your cafe, whether they sat down to eat or just used your facilities. If you manage to fill their satisfaction bar for the first time for that customer type, that customer is going to become a regular. Regular customers not only swing by more often, but they’ll also tend to order more items. The more regulars you have, the more stable your revenue stream becomes.
Note that just because a customer has become a regular doesn’t mean you can neglect them. The frequency of a customer’s visits is influenced by their regularity stat, which you can boost by consistently providing excellent service. Be sure to level up your facilities, add new offerings, and use items to ensure that your cafe is -the- place to be. This isn’t a one-way relationship as regulars who are pleased with your performance will sometimes give you items!
Finally, note that satisfaction is customer-wide, not individual. Any satisfaction progress you make with a customer type is shared by all customers of that type.
Your customers aren’t just mindless, walking piles of cash. Customers are savvy enough to have a budget that determines how much they’re willing to spend per visit to your cafe.
A customer’s spending will never exceed that of their budget. It is, however, easy to coax them to spend more – just keep raising their satisfaction and eventually, they’ll be willing to shell out more cash.
Do note that one peculiarity of this system is that it will be harder to build up satisfaction with new customers – especially those with a low budget – if your specials menu consists of nothing but super-expensive items. I’ve found it prudent to keep a few cheap items on the specials menu for that specific purpose if I have new customer types. You can always shuffle the specials menu, so make liberal use of its power.
The Power of Charm
You might think that satisfaction would be hard to raise because of its importance. You’ll be happy to know that the opposite is true. Even with its high importance, raising satisfaction is easy and there are a lot of ways to bump it up.
Customers gain satisfaction not only based on the quality of the food and drink they try out but also with the general ambiance and charm of your cafe. Of all the ways to raise satisfaction, charm is by far the best and most effective. Getting charm is simple – just place decorations near customer tables for a nice boost. The more decorations you have and the fancier they are, the bigger the charm bonus. Charm also has the nice side effect of boosting the use of nearby facilities if they can generate money.
Because of the sheer power that charm affords you, it’s a good idea to arrange your cafe so that decorations can affect as many tables and/or facilities as possible. Decorations items also do not have a maintenance cost, so you can go ham on decorating your cafe!
If you’ve ever played any other Kairosoft titles (especially Dream Town Island) you’ve probably already guessed that customers will come up to you with their troubles.
Occasionally, regulars will ask for your assistance in solving their problems. Luckily for us, the solutions to these problems are quite simple if a bit expensive. Some customers need us to bombard them with requested items, while others may just want a quiet place to relax for the day. Others may just need cash. Unluckily for us, attempting to solve a trouble comes with an upfront gold fee, so keep some cash on hand.
In general, you’ll only run into item and location-based requests in the early game.
For item-based requests, you’ll need to select three items on your menu to give to the customer. Pay close attention to what the customer says as that can serve as a hint on what items will best fulfill their request. If your items are up to snuff, the customer’s happiness will fill up, and the quest will be completed. You’ll need to score a total of 100 points and get check marks on all three items to complete the request. Higher-quality items tend to have a bigger effect on this so you can technically brute force your way through.
As you progress through the early game, item-based requests will become more specific with customers requesting drinks with certain tastes. This is where a drink’s taste composition comes in.
To ensure that you can keep up with item-based requests, ensure that you’re always developing new drinks with different tastes. We’ll talk about this in more detail in the “Research and Development” section.
For location-based requests, you’ll need to pick a spot in your cafe that fulfills the customer’s request. Find a place that matches their request – usually the table with the best charm – and they’ll swing by the next month (the next in-game day) to use that spot. Note that this reserves a table and that the customer will hang around the whole day, ordering food and using your facilities. Coincidentally, this also means that reservation requests net you a good sum of cash.
Because of the ease of creating a high-charm setting, I highly suggest designating some tables as VIP tables, meaning you prioritize item use on those seats and stuffing as many decorations as you can near them. Is it messy? Yes. Is it effective? Oh yes.
Your charity won’t go unrewarded. Helping customers solve their troubles results in good stuff – sometimes you’ll get new recipes that can’t be obtained any other way, sometimes you’ll unlock new potential customers, and sometimes you’ll just get a good chunk of items. Either way, it’s in your best interests to address your customers’ troubles as soon as you can.
Just as you can solve troubles, you can also fail them. Maybe you didn’t have the exact dish the customer had in mind, or maybe your facilities weren’t up to snuff. If you fail a trouble, it’s not the end of the world – you can try again so long as you can pay the fee.
Connie will notify you via the bottom ticker if a new trouble is available. You can also just check the menu as the “new” button will appear if there are new troubles that need your attention.
Your staff in Cafe Master Story are your eyes, ears, and hands on the ground. Nothing gets done without them, so it’s important to treat them right and ensure that each staff member is given a chance to shine.
- You need to pay to hire new staff. More expensive recruitment options give you a wider selection of potential employees and improve their base stats.
- You can choose to hire as many applicants as you want at once, but make sure you have a place for each of them to work in, or else that’s money wasted!
- Employees have a monthly salary based on their stats. Better employees have a higher salary than low-level ones.
- You can fire employees via the Manage Staff menu if you really need to.
- Each employee has four core stats – service, affinity, cooking, and taste.
- Each employee also has a unique skill that affects their performance.
- Always play towards an employee’s strengths. Employees with good service will make excellent wait staff, while those with high cooking and/or taste (preferably both) are best when placed in the kitchen/cashier. High affinity is desirable either way. Keep their skills in mind too – a Brute Strength employee with high cooking may be able to work in either area but won’t be as potent as a single specialist.
- Employees can be leveled up by spending research points. Levels not only increase all of an employee’s stats but can also evolve their skills.
Hiring New Staff
Connie will urge you to hire new staff not long into your journey. It’s a good idea to do so as overworked employees lead to a slowdown in business, which directly affects your profits!
Unlike other Kairosoft titles, hiring staff in Cafe Master Story isn’t instant. First, you’ll need to select a recruitment method and pay a fee depending on the method you chose. The more expensive the recruitment method you select, the more candidates will show up, and the further along in the game you are, the more recruitment options will be available. Naturally, more advanced recruitment methods cost more gold.
Once you select the recruitment method and pay the upfront fee, you’ll need to chill a bit and wait to see how many applicants you get.
On the applicants screen, you can choose to hire as many applicants as you want, though you’ll naturally want to have the store space to accommodate them. You’ll also get to view the stats and skill of each applicant, with better applicants costing more.
Naturally, you’ll want to hire the best applicants for the task you have in mind. This is where their stats and personal skill come in. However, be careful not to go over your budget as better employees naturally have a higher monthly salary. If this happens and your business isn’t making enough money to pay your staff, you can fire some of them via the Manage Staff menu – but only as a last resort!
Each staff member has four stats that determine how well they do in various aspects of service.
The four stats, and what they do, are as follows:
- Service indicates how good of a server an employee is. Higher service means more satisfaction gains from customers that employee waits on.
- Affinity is a measure of how well-known an employee’s skills are (weird, I know). Higher affinity leads to a bigger popularity boost for your cafe.
- Cooking is a measure of culinary skill. More difficult and complex food and drinks require a trained, steady hand.
- Taste is an employee’s ability to create coherent, delicious, and high-quality food and drink. A high taste stat positively affects the result of menu item development.
Each staff member also packs a special skill that further improves their performance in a specific aspect and makes it easier for you to find a niche for them in your cafe.
The skills in Cafe Master Story are:
|Coffee/Tea/Soda Master||Boosts taste when developing new coffee/tea/soda items, respectively.|
|Power Walker||Has a higher movement speed.|
|Brute Strength||Can carry more items at once.|
|Researcher||Randomly generates research points when serving customers.|
|Alluring||Randomly earns extra gold when serving customers.|
|Pro Chef||Cooks faster.|
Different Skills, Different Responsibilities
Because each staff member has different strengths, it’s a good idea to place them wherever they can perform best. Employees with high service are perfect as wait staff, so assign them to the floor. Those with higher cooking and taste, on the other hand, are better suited to working in the kitchen.
Better, Stronger, Faster
Just like your customers and cafe, your staff isn’t static. By investing valuable research points into them, you can level them up!
Leveling up employees grants them an increase in stats across the board, making them better at just about everything – and coincidentally, making your cafe even better. But the stat boost isn’t the only thing to look forward to. Level an employee enough and their skills can evolve, boosting their efficiency and further honing that employee’s role in your cafe!
Research and Development
No business grows by standing still. To remain competitive in the cafe industry and to elevate your cozy corner shop into a household name, you’ll need to continuously grow and develop your small store into a household name, which we’ll do through the power of science!
- You will constantly need research points throughout the game. It’s an excellent idea to hire employees with good service and the researcher skill as your wait staff to maximize your research point gains.
- Creating drinks is unlocked after gaining your first rank star.
- To create a drink, select a base template then add ingredients. Higher-quality ingredients tend to result in better drinks. You can get ingredients mainly from the Pumpkin shop.
- The higher the researcher’s cooking and taste stats, the better the result. Researchers will be replaced with temporary employees if they’re developing drinks.
- The right combination of ingredients can result in a new base drink/template.
- You can upgrade food by sacrificing ingredients and money. Go to Menu -> Meals -> Inventory -> Food then tap on the food you want to upgrade.
- Ingredients that yield more food experience are denoted by “up” text.
- The higher a food’s level, the higher its popularity and the more expensive it becomes.
- Ranking up should always be your goal as it unlocks new gameplay features and research.
Research and Research Points
The currency of growth isn’t gold, but research points, those notes that you’ve (hopefully) been collecting ever since you first opened your doors.
Research points are earned primarily by:
- Customers generate research points after they leave.
- Employees with the researcher skill randomly generate research points when serving customers.
These points are spent in various ways:
- Research projects require you to pay a large amount of research points.
- Leveling up employees costs research points; the higher the level, the more points.
- Increasing employee slots in either the kitchen or floor costs research points.
- Inviting Michelin judges to rank your cafe via the troubles menu costs a large sum of research points.
- You can pay research points to instantly restock the Pumpkin shop if you’ve exhausted its stock.
And those are just the beginning. Because of how many things use research points, it’s good to maximize your income of the stuff from the get-go!
Investing in research is easy. Go to Menu -> Manage -> Research Subject to view the available projects that you can start.
Creating Your Own Drinks
Serving grocery-bought coffee and tea is all well and good. But it’s not -you-. It doesn’t have your -vibes-. If you want to personalize your cafe, you’ll need to create your own drinks from scratch. This ability requires you to reach the 1st star rank and spend 45 research points to unlock it, so if you’ve been sleeping on your ranking goals, get to it!
Once you can create drinks, you can start a new experiment by going to Meals -> Develop Dish. You’ll then be prompted to select a drink template/base drink (which is determined by the base recipes you’ve unlocked), what the ingredients should be, and who will develop it. For best results, assign someone with both good cooking and taste to the research lab; if they have the Coffee/Tea/Soda master skill, even better. In addition, employees that have an aura create drinks of higher quality than usual.
The quality of the new drink is determined not only by the stats and skills of the researcher but also by the quality of the ingredients that go into it – the higher their quality, the better the result. You can buy more ingredients for gourmet drinks (or madcap experiments) via the Pumpkin shop.
After you’ve selected the base drink, the ingredients, and the researcher, that employee will vanish to wherever your R&D lab is. They won’t leave you hanging though as you’ll get a temporary help staff member that will assume the researcher’s responsibilities. After that, it’s just a matter of time before your researcher comes up with a new product. If you want to view their progress, you can peek at the bottom panel.
Note that the new drink will gain points in its four tastes, which seems to be semi-random. The higher the researcher’s taste and cooking skill, the more total taste points the new concoction will have. In addition, selecting the correct ingredients can result in a new base drink/template, such as an espresso:
As you’ll need different drink types and tastes for solving troubles, always keep development running.
Spicing It Up
Ingredients aren’t just for pulverizing or turning into something that’s probably a biohazard coffee. You can also stick them in food to improve its quality.
To improve food quality, go to Menu -> Meals -> Inventory -> Food, then tap on the food you want to improve. This will bring up a screen where you can sacrifice ingredients to increase that dish’s level. As with using items on facilities, certain ingredients resonate better with particular dishes; in this case, this will be indicated by an “up” text beside the ingredient’s name. Note that this also costs money!
Raising the level of your food raises its popularity and price, meaning that people are more likely to order it and you’ll get squeeze more gold out of them. Also, unlike drinks, there are no pesky tastes to take care of!
While making bank is nice, it shouldn’t be your end goal. By providing excellent service, improving your facilities, assisting customers with their troubles, finding new clientele, and so on, your achievements will become recognized in the form of a gold star.
Ranking up is a key part of Cafe Master Story. Each star you earn unlocks new opportunities and challenges and opens more and more of the game world to you. Thus, it’s vitally important that you always strive towards the next star rank.
Each rank brings its own set of challenges. The further you are in the game, the tougher these challenges become, but the higher your star rank, the more tools you’ll have at your disposal!
Your Own Cozy Corner
There’s no singular way to best approach Cafe Master Story, but now that you have the basics of cafe management under your belt, you’re better armed to deal with the trials and enjoy the pleasures of running your ideal cafe.
That concludes my beginner’s guide to Cafe Master Story, and I hope that I was able to give you an idea of where to go, what to do, and what to look out for on your quest to create your dream cafe. If you have any comments or suggestions on how to improve this guide, or are feeling generous with some tips and tricks of your own, make yourself heard in the comment section below!