Old restaurant

It’s no secret there has been a big shakeup in the restaurant industry. Many small business owners were forced to shut their doors in the fallout of the world flipped upside down due to the pandemic. But with every crisis, comes opportunities for entrepreneurs to create new and exciting concepts for the world and local communities to enjoy as we build out post pandemic industry to new heights. As I have helped many new restauranteurs and chefs, I have seen first hand how restauranteurs have faired when acquiring new restaurant spaces. Here’s a few things to look for and avoid when acquiring a new space.

  1. Taking over a previous restaurant location eases the approval process with municipalities however, be wary of existing non conforming code violations. The idea of grandfathering in a non compliant issue usually does not apply to a new owner.
  2. Look for space with opportunities for pick up deliveries to be easily accessible. The flow of the space will make for a more efficient store and not impede the customers favorable experience.
  3. Parking requirements and zoning will restrict the use and allowable seating count. Sometimes outdoor seating do not count as much as indoor so make sure that you have the ability to serve alfresco.
  4. Mechanical requirements for a menu that is more cooking intensive than the previous establishment will become a large cost factor and may complicate construction if physical barriers such as exhaust hoods routes are difficult to achieve.
  5. Does the space have fire sprinklers? In addition to potential insurance ramifications an unsprinkled space could limit occupancy and is costly to add.
  6. Grease interceptors are generally always required unless a hardship can be proven. Make sure that these things are spelled out in a lease letter with the owner for financial responsibility to provide such requirements.
  7. Remember, once the lease is signed it becomes increasingly difficult to negotiate a new issue relating to responsibility of costs. A vigorous due diligence will clarify issues while you still have the ability to negotiate.
  8. Engage with a knowledgeable restaurant design expert to be able to fully account for the upfront cost to develop a restaurant. Knowing what expenses to account for can help determine if a potential location is right for you and if you are adequately funded.

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