Character Creation & Levels
Cafe World has a character creator where you are able to change the appearance and look of your character. The look of your character does not have any effect on gameplay but is just another piece of customization available to the creative user. Even though you can hire other friends as employees, your character is the only one you can specifically customize.
The basics of the cafe setup revolves around stoves, counters, tables and chairs. All meals are cooked by the chef on the stove, and once a meal is prepared and cooked the chef places it on a counter containing the same food or one of the empty counters. Meanwhile, employees (AI versions of your friends that are not controlled by anyone) take meals from counters and serve them to tables. Customers take a seat at a table with a chair facing it, get their food, eat it, and leave. If a customer gets a meal, they will give you a thumbs up when they leave, increasing your Buzz Rating.
Buzz rating is the popularity of your restaurant, and is a huge factor in the amount of customers you will get. It will go up when you successfully serve food to a customer and they finish. If a customer enters your cafe and cannot see a free seat, they will leave and decrease your buzz rating. Likewise, if a customer sits down at a seat with an empty plate of food and it is not cleaned away quickly enough, your buzz rating will lower and they will leave.
Cooking a meal is a multiple step process. The first step is to click on a clean, empty stove and select the dish you want to cook. Each dish has a cook time, cost, number of servings, cost of each serving, and some more information. Once a dish is selected the chef will come gather the ingredients. Afterwords you will need to click the same stove again to perform some auxiliary preparation tasks before cooking like chopping up veggies and molding dough. The next stage is cooking which requires no input from you. Simply wait the amount of time for it to be done or cancel it (if it takes long enough). Once a meal is cooked, you must again click it to tell the chef to take it to a serving counter. And the final step is to click the stove once more to clean it up so you can cook a new dish on it. If your dish completes and you don't get to it in time, it will spoil and it must be cleared away at no gain for you. The only way for a spoiled dish to be saved is if a friend comes and spices it.
The store is where you buy things to put in your cafe, as well as where you upgrade your cafe. You can buy decorations to place around your cafe which should help bolster your rating somewhat. You also get tables and chairs here at which to serve guests. This is also where you can get or trade stoves and counters. Since you have a limited number of stoves and counters, they must be first dragged to the store and then the new one must be dragged out. Items you don't want anymore are also stored in the store, by dragging the item into it. If you want to sell an item, you must drag it to the cash register in the lower right. Items are bought with cafe coins or some more fancy items can be bought with cafe cash, which can be bought with real money.
If you have any friends playing cafe world, you can request that they be your neighbor. The number of neighbors you have will directly affect some things you can buy (mostly upgrades relating to cafe size). You can go to any of your friend's cafes and spice a dish (increasing the amount of servings it will offer up) as well as taste test a dish for a reward of XP and money.
Tables and Chairs
Each table should only have one chair at it, as only one plate will fit on each table. At the entrances, it would be a good idea not to have chairs to the right and left of the door, as if they are there, it is quite more likely that the potential customers will see the seats near the door taken and think its full and leave.
Trap Your Staff
One efficient way to serve all of your guests is to simply trap your staff in a kitchen area. If the chef cannot get to a stove, then the cooking on that stove will be done immediately regardless where the chef is standing. Likewise, if the chef cannot get from a stove to a counter, completed plates will be moved immediately. The same kind of thing goes for the other employees, if they cannot get from a counter to some table with a guest, the dish will be shipped immediately, and the same goes for cleaning dishes off of tables after the food is gone.
No Food? No Problem
If you find yourself completely out of food, simply remove your doors until you have food available. Customers will not be able to enter (to simply not be served) and give you bad ratings.