Finding The Perfect Restaurant Space—What To Discuss With Your Broker

In today’s world of retail commercial real estate, few things get more buzz than a new and exciting restaurant concept. When we ask what people would like to see in a particular property or development, the vast majority of requests and comments are for restaurants. So this got us thinking, what do restaurateurs need to look for and consider when deciding on the best property to lease or purchase for their new concept?

At Crunkleton, we’ve helped a number of clients reach their goals of opening a successful restaurant. Here are a few things your broker needs to discuss with you before beginning the search for the perfect piece of property:

Concept & Clientele

The first thing we need to examine is your concept, who your customers are, and when they will be coming to visit. Is your concept open for all three meals of the day or just dinner? What will your busiest time of day be? Knowing your projected peak hours will help you determine if you need to be situated near a large daytime/work population or an area with a more active evening population.

You may also need to consider how commuter traffic affects your desired location. Do you need to capture the crowd heading to work during the morning hours? Or will you get more business after work hours? Determining these factors first will narrow down the areas that need to be considered, making your search more efficient while eliminating areas that wouldn’t be suitable.

We also need to consider local zoning laws. If you serve alcohol, then we need to make sure we search in the correct zoning district and may need to be a certain distance from protected uses, such as schools and churches.

Size & Special Features

Next, let’s determine what size space you need and if you require any special features such as a drive-thru or outdoor patio. One of the biggest factors in the success of a restaurant will be occupancy costs. Essentially, this is how much it costs you to occupy the space in relation to your sales volume. A space too large will drive up your occupancy costs by leaving you to pay rent on empty tables that aren’t producing sales. A space too small may limit the number of customers you can serve, therefore driving up occupancy costs by not producing enough sales to cover your expenses. Finding the appropriate size space is critical to long-term success.

These added features (like the patio or drive-thru) may be beneficial to your business and drive more customer traffic. Properties with these features generally cost more to lease or purchase, but the increased costs may be worth it in the long run.

Parking & Accessibility

Another important factor to consider is parking and accessibility. Like we mentioned previously, these factors will largely be determined by your concept. A lunch-focused restaurant may need to be more concerned with parking and convenience than a sit-down dinner concept. If your patrons will be pressed for time, having an abundance of parking close to the front door may be important.

Are you a quick-serve breakfast concept? Then you may want to be located on the “going-to-work” side of the road so customers can easily swing in and out during their morning commute and don’t have to waste time crossing traffic or waiting on a light to change.

Condition

Lastly, let’s talk about the condition of the space we need to be looking for during our search. Can you handle the initial build-out of the restaurant or do we need to find a space that has previously been a restaurant? Restaurant spaces have requirements that may not be in place in some of the properties we find, such as grease traps, vent hoods, adequate HVAC, etc.

Finding spaces that already have these features installed can certainly save time and money when it comes to build-out and getting open, but may be difficult to find and costlier to lease or purchase. Part of a broker’s job is knowing the market well enough to expedite your search and introduce you to spaces that fit your needs when it come to these necessities.

Obviously saving that time and money on build-out would be nice, but don’t let your decision on the final location be driven by the fact that the space is a second-generation restaurant space. We’ve put this last on the list because we believe from our experience that the other factors are more important to the long-term success of a restaurant than saving some money during the build-out.

Are you searching for the perfect restaurant space? Be sure to check out our full list of available restaurant spaces here.

And give us a call at 256-536-8809, or email us at info@crunkletonassociates.com. Our retail brokers would be happy to help you with your search and answer any questions you have.

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Zac Buckley
VP of Leasing
Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate Group
ZAC@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

 

Originally from Tennessee, Zac studied business management at Samford University. After moving to Huntsville in 2001, Zac started out his career in banking, wealth management, and financial planning. In 2010 he joined Crunkleton and has since become the VP of Leasing for the commercial real estate group where he focuses on retail leasing and development.

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5 Things To Consider When Purchasing Commercial Land

So you have an idea for the perfect development. All of your plans are in place and you’re ready to get the ball rolling. It’s time to find the piece of land that will make your dream a reality. But where do you start? In the world of zoning, environmental issues, construction concerns, and laws about land use, buying and selling land can seem like a daunting task.

When you consider all of the intricate details that go into a final deal, proper due diligence can make or break success. Without thorough investigation and research, you may or may not end up with the property you need—leaving you with a piece of land that you can’t utilize in the way you intended.

Luckily, having a professional broker on your side can make the process much smoother and help you maximize your returns. But, as a buyer, you can certainly do your part to make sure you enjoy the best possible outcome.

Here are five things to consider when purchasing commercial land:

Zoning

First and foremost, you should know the zoning of the land you intend to buy. Zoning laws—also called land use regulations or zoning ordinances—determine the ways in which a particular area of land can be used.

For instance, you may have plans to build a mixed-use development on your plot of land but it’s zoned for residential use. In this case, you’d likely want to negotiate the purchase contract contingent on the re-zoning of the property or obtaining a variance. Both of these can be time-consuming and require additional professional fees, making you want to pass on this particular piece of land.

Zoning affects nearly everything when it comes to your future business plans. It can control noise levels, business signage, parking regulations, waste management and much more. So be sure to examine all zoning laws before you ever sign a lease.

And remember, some land can be zoned for multiple uses. Your broker will be able to check the boxes for you when it comes to identifying zoning that fits your bottom line.

Utilities

Never assume that certain utilities will be available at your property—always ask ahead of time. If you are developing on the land, this is an important step to cover because hidden costs will creep in.

If the City doesn’t offer the types of services you need, will you be able to acquire them? Is there access to a septic system? Water? Electricity? Gas? Telephone? Depending on your intended use, you will need to secure the proper utilities to carry out your business.

Bottom line: Ask if certain utilities extend to your site before buying.

Deed Restrictions

You’ve been searching and you believe you’ve found the tract of land you want to use for development. It’s zoned properly, utilities are available, and it’s easily accessible. However, there may be another blocker preventing you from developing the property—deed restrictions.

Deed restrictions are created to determine how successive title owners can use the land. For instance, there may be a restriction on the land that forbids commercial development even though it’s properly zoned for such a use.

Restrictions can cover everything from the future use of the property to building height, characteristics of buildings, maintenance of the property, and other responsibilities related to the land. Typically, deed restrictions apply to all future title owners.

These restrictions supersede zoning ordinances. So even if you find land that fits your use, a restriction could still prevent you from carrying out your planned development.

Access

Making sure the land fits future accessibility needs is a must. Is there room to add parking and space for proper ingress and egress? Is the location convenient to your future clientele? What is the nearby competition like? Is it easy to get to major highways and shipping routes? Having a clear-cut plan for your land will help you determine which questions you should ask.

When settling on a property, remember location, location, location!

(Tip: Access also includes the ease at which construction equipment can enter and exit the site during the development phase.)

Topography & Design

Last, but not least, you will need to review the topography and design of the land you want to buy. Here are some of the issues you need to be concerned with:

  • Environmental (soil quality, underground pipes, underground storage tanks, etc.)
  • Slope of the land
  • Floodplains, easements
  • Nearby streams/water sources
  • Wetlands
  • Shaded or sunny areas

In the end, all of these concerns can be addressed so you find land that will yield the highest returns and ensure future success.

At Crunkleton, we guide clients through each phase of a land deal so you get the best value. We’d love to help you with purchasing or selling your land investment. You can access the full portfolio of our land listings here.

Have questions about purchasing or selling land? Contact us at info@crunkletonassociates.com or give us a call at 256-536-8809.

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

Historic Huntsville: The Huntsville Hotel

Recently, we announced that downtown Huntsville would soon have its first luxury boutique hotel. The Curio by Hilton Hotel – 106 Jefferson is an exciting addition to the area that will usher in a new wave of high-end accommodations and meeting space. While many know the spot on Jefferson Street as the former Hale Brothers Furniture building, its history stretches back much further.

In fact, in 1858, the block was home to the famed Huntsville Hotel—an elegant inn that was described as “the town’s first real hostelry.”

In the same spot, 160 years apart, 106 Jefferson will be reinvented as a modern boutique hotel.

Image courtesy: The Historic Huntsville Quarterly; Huntsville Public Library Heritage Room

The Bell Tavern Becomes The Huntsville Hotel

In the early 1800s, locals and traveling salesmen would visit the northwest corner of the city square to enjoy a stay at the Bell Tavern. Although the site had endured many changes in ownership, it somehow managed to thrive for several years before falling into the hands of Alexander Johnson in 1855.

According to The Historic Huntsville Quarterly, disaster struck when Johnson “leased the stables of the Tavern to a Mr. Thomason while retaining ownership of the equipment—the buggies, harnesses, etc.—as well as retaining ownership of the tavern house, including numerous lodging rooms and ‘The Owl’ dining and bar facilities.”

It wasn’t long until the Bell Tavern was the victim of a major fire, which Johnson claimed was the work of an arsonist.

After the fire, the Tavern maintained a few rooms for guests but it never returned to its former glory. That’s when plans were made to build a new kind of modern hotel on the same site, one grander than ever before.

The Huntsville Hotel—Known For Comfort And Extravagance

If you walked down Jefferson Street in the 1890s, the massive doors of the Huntsville Hotel would greet you as you watched the town’s elite being escorted from their horses and carts. The doorman may have given you a nod as you looked up to examine the hotel’s four stories, complete with ironwork trimming. Everything in view would exude the elegance of the time.

As you strolled inside, you would see the main parlor with comfortable leather armchairs, an ornate fireplace, and curtains that reached from the ceiling to the floor. Newspapers of the day described the design as “tasty and elegant”—a perfect echo of the Victorian era.

Image courtesy: The Historic Huntsville Quarterly; Huntsville Public Library Heritage Room

The hotel was successful for many years, including during the Civil War and through a nasty bout of Yellow Fever that affected much of Alabama near the end of the nineteenth century.

Even during wartime, the Huntsville Hotel was able to keep up the spirits of visitors and locals by continuing to host lavish parties and grand balls. Grand Concert Troupes performed at the Huntsville Hotel charging only 50 cents per ticket.

In 1883, a production of Pirates of Penzance played in the stunning dining hall of the inn. It seemed nothing could get the old hotel down.

Image courtesy: The Historic Huntsville Quarterly; Huntsville Public Library Heritage Room

During the Yellow Fever scare, the hotel was reportedly full of citizens from nearby cities seeking refuge during the summer months when the illness was at its peak. Many guests from Memphis hid away in the cozy rooms at the hotel and waited for the outbreak to end.

As its success continued to grow, an additional 65 rooms were added and the property underwent a major renovation/expansion in 1888.

1888 Fire Insurance Map – This shows the renovation of the hotel. Notice the property extending down the block to meet City Hall on the corner of Jefferson and Clinton.

The Huntsville Hotel was beloved for decades until two separate fires claimed the site, leaving only ashes behind.

1908 Fire Insurance Map – This shows the Huntsville Hotel when it was fully operational. The old City Hall is now the Huntsville Opera House.

History Repeats Itself

After what many Huntsville papers reported as “the most devastating fire in the city’s history,” the Huntsville Hotel suffered the same fate as its predecessor, The Bell Tavern. Curious onlookers stood outside the building aghast at what they saw. As the smoke plumes filled the air above them, it became clear to the crowd that this event marked the end of the Huntsville Hotel.

While there were two different fires—one in 1910 and another in 1911—the landscape on Jefferson and Spring Street changed dramatically after the fire on November 12, 1911, as the entire block was destroyed. The total losses from damages were estimated at $250,000, which is equivalent to around $6.3 million today.

Image of the hotel burning down in 1910 (the first fire); The Huntsville Times

Staff Writer at the Huntsville Times, Weldon Payne, wrote a recount of the day that ran in the daily newspaper 47 years after the second fire. In it he states:

“There was a fire on Jefferson Street. Many crowded close to it. Heat from the leaping flames must have felt good reaching through the cold November air to touch their faces. It had done so on the same location almost exactly a year before.”

J.E. Penney, the hotel’s owner at the time, had made plans to rebuild from the ashes following the fire of 1910. But after the second fire nearly a year later, he decided to abandon any hope of bringing back the once vibrant inn.

It took years for the city to rebuild the block. And old fire insurance maps show the street between Clinton Avenue and Spring Street are barren in 1913. It wasn’t until 1915 that someone found interest in the land and made plans to rebuild the block.

1913 Fire Insurance Map – Notice the block has been almost completely destroyed by the fires.

By 1928, progress had been made. The Jefferson Street block was now home to the Alabama Power Company and the new Jefferson Theatre. Things were slowly returning to normal—minus the charm and convenience of one of Huntsville’s most popular hotels.

1928 Fire Insurance Map – The block is slowly being rebuilt.

It wouldn’t be long until other famed hotels took center stage and accommodated the many traveling salesmen who planned long stopovers in town. Due to its acclaimed hospitality and beautiful scenery, Huntsville was a popular spot to relax between business meetings.

By April 1914, the Hotel Twickenham had a grand opening—complete with parade—the next block over on Clinton Avenue. The Russel Erskine and Hotel Yarbrough also opened to guests soon after. Downtown enjoyed many glory days as the city’s mecca for lavish accommodations and luxury travel.

But as the glitz and glamour of downtown faded in the following years, the city moved much of its efforts toward expanding other neighborhoods. The days of hotels dominating downtown came to a gradual end.

Hale Brothers Furniture

Today, many people regard 106 Jefferson as the old Hale Brothers Furniture store. For decades, everyone in Huntsville knew about the furniture shop on Jefferson Street. But prior to opening its storefront on Jefferson, Hale Brothers could be found on Clinton Avenue. It wasn’t until 1956 that it moved into its iconic spot where the new Curio by Hilton Hotel is being built today.

In an interview with the Huntsville Times, Clyde “Sonny” Hale shared that he “loved these buildings” [on Jefferson Street] and wanted to own them someday. “That was one of my goals in life,” he said.  “Something told me to buy them.” And so he did. (Article by: Marian Accardi, Times Business Writer, 12/16/01)

Hale Brothers Furniture remained in operation until 2002 when it liquidated its stock and officially closed its doors. After 55 years of business, the team still reflected on the joys of doing business in downtown Huntsville. For the Hale team, the closing was both a “fun” and “traumatic experience,” simply because their customers had become such an integral part of their lives.

Looking Toward The Future

That brings us to today. 106 Jefferson Street, whether publically recognized or not, is a symbol of the city’s resilience. Its history has come full circle, as it will once again welcome guests to enjoy a stay in our city and invite locals to mingle at its restaurant or rooftop bar.

We can’t wait for construction to begin so you can have a small glimpse into the past when the block transforms to house the city’s newest boutique hotel.

For more information on the Curio by Hilton Hotel – 106 Jefferson, be sure to check out our official announcement of the project here.

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM

The Cuban Café Is Coming To Promenade Point Shopping Center!

A brand-new local eatery will soon bring the sights, sounds, and flavors of Cuba to the Madison/Huntsville area! Join us in welcoming The Cuban Café to the Promenade Point shopping center at 5510 Promenade Point Parkway.

Utilizing the culinary savvy of Jesenia (Jessi) Ysalgue and the entrepreneurial spirit of her husband Andy Ysalgue, The Cuban Café will be a vibrant spot where guests can experience authentic Cuban culture and cuisine.

Photo Credit: Katie Shelton; Jesenia (Jessi) Ysalgue: Co-owner & Operating Manager; Andy Ysalgue: Co-owner

“We are happy to announce that lovers of traditional Cuban dishes in the Madison/Huntsville area will soon have a great option to enjoy close by,” said Andy, co-owner of The Cuban Café. “There’s going to be something to satisfy every one of your senses, and we can’t wait to open our doors and deliver a memorable experience.”

The Cuban Café will serve guests six days a week and is tentatively scheduled to open in early August of this year. The hours will be:

Monday – Closed

Tuesday – Thursday: 11am-10pm

Friday – Saturday: 11am-11pm

Sunday – 11am-9pm

Bold, Fresh Flavors in Every Bite

What makes The Cuban Café unique? According to Jessi, operating manager and co-owner, it’s the years of training in the restaurant industry, authenticity, and soul that goes into every dish.

“This is the way I was taught to cook as a child, so I have been making these dishes all my life,” explained Jessi. “There’s something so special about Cuban food and the way it makes you feel. Cilantro, garlic, peppers—you can taste every ingredient and appreciate what it brings to the meal.”

For years, Jessi and Andy had the dream of opening a café that served the fresh and bold flavors they grew up with. And now, Jessi is inviting others to discover the delight of Cuban cuisine.

“We will, of course, have a traditional Cuban sandwich made with roasted pork, sweet ham, pickles, and swiss,” assured Jessi. “It’s one of our favorites and we are thrilled to serve it alongside other types of sandwiches and many other menu items including ropa vieja, picadillo, and much more.”

Ropa vieja is Jessi’s favorite dish to eat when visiting family in Miami. She explained that the name of the dish translates to “old clothes” in Spanish, a term that describes the look of the meat once it’s prepared.

“It’s a beef stew that includes meat shredded like old clothes,” she laughed. “It has meat, veggies, red sauce, and spices. When it’s homemade, the flavor will almost smack you in the face. It’s delicious.”

There will also be plenty of desserts to choose from on The Cuban Café menu, like Jessi’s famous flan.

“It’s the best flan I’ve ever had in my life,” complimented Andy. “We beg her to make it for every family event—they are never complete without it. I know guests are going to love it.”

The future home of The Cuban Cafe!

 Enjoy the Sights, Sounds, and Flavors of Cuba

Homemade fare isn’t the only reason to visit The Cuban Café—there’s much more to experience. For instance, there will be a decorated patio where patrons can smoke cigars and sip a craft cocktail while listening to the smooth sounds of drums, guitars, bongos, and trumpets playing in the background. Latin music will play an important role in the overall atmosphere.

“We want The Cuban Café to be more than a place you drop by for a good meal, although it will be that,” clarified Andy. “Our patio will be one of the most comfortable spots in the café. We want people to be able to close their eyes and feel like they are in Cuba or Miami. We keep using the word ‘authentic’, but that’s really what we are going for. Sharing these parts of the Cuban culture is something that’s special to us.”

Andy also shared that live music may be at the café during special occasions and events.

“Grab a mojito or a Cuban sandwich and hang with us for awhile,” invited Jessi. “We are a place that everyone in the family can enjoy. And we are just around the corner for all of our Madison customers.”

In the End, It’s About the People

For Jessi, nothing excites her more than opening the doors and getting to know her guests.

“We’ve wanted to bring this café to life for years,” shared Jessi. “So we have put a lot of planning and hard work into making sure it’s exactly what we envisioned. You can find Cuban sandwiches in many places—and they are all delicious. But we wanted to share them with traditional ingredients, prepared in a way that stood the test of time in our own family. We love Madison and Huntsville, and we are eager to open so they can try our recipes.”

Jessi and Andy have been part of the Madison/Huntsville community for 10 years. After one visit, the couple immediately fell in love with the area and decided it was the perfect place to raise a family.

“The first time we visited ten years ago, we had 70-degree weather, a tornado, and snow flurries all within four days,” joked Andy. “We love the colors and the seasons here, but more than anything we love the people and the family atmosphere.”

The duo also mentioned the growth of the area and said they hope the new café will be a player in the continuing progress of the city.

“We wanted to create a place that brings the community together to enjoy great food and fun,” said Jessi. “Madison and Huntsville have some amazing restaurants—we eat at them frequently. We are honored to soon be a part of such a diverse, quality group of restaurateurs.”

“Our roots are in Miami, but we have made Madison our home,” said Jessi. “This is a way for us to invite our friends to experience something they may not have had the chance to experience before. Whether you’re coming to grab a bite, hang out at the bar, or relax on our patio, we want you to leave feeling refreshed, happy, and—of course—full of comforting Cuban cooking.”

To learn more about The Cuban Café and to get updates on its opening, be sure to like them on Facebook!

Photo Credit: Katie Shelton; “There’s something so comforting about traditional Cuban cooking…” – Jessi Ysalgue

Have you tried Cuban food before? What’s your favorite dish? Let us know in the comments!

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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS
MARKETING COORDINATOR
CRUNKLETON COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE GROUP
HALEY@CRUNKLETONASSOCIATES.COM