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.
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 email@example.com. Our retail brokers would be happy to help you with your search and answer any questions you have.
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.