You’re excited about your plans to open a restaurant, but you still need a location. How can you find the best space for your new enterprise?
There are so many things to look for as you view potential spaces, and it can feel overwhelming. However, going in with a plan can make all the difference. To help you out, we’ve put together these tips on how to find a restaurant space that works for you.
Best Ways to Find the Perfect Restaurant Space
Though you may be eager to open your business, it’s important that you don’t take the first restaurant space for lease that you see. Instead, you need to vet locations to ensure they meet all your needs carefully. The first step, then, is to create a list of what you need to run your restaurant successfully.
Of course, you’re not likely to check every box. Instead of looking for the “perfect” place, create a list of priorities and look for a location that fulfills the most important ones. As you check out each prospective space, you should also keep the following tips in mind.
Keep to a Budget
Your budget is a hard line that you shouldn’t compromise on. While it’s good to have a range for potential rent, you shouldn’t go over.
When you create your budget, you’re carefully balancing your resources; if you go over on rent, those are funds you have to take from another area. Since rent is something you’ll be paying each month, those extra costs add up quickly. Additionally, rent is subject to change if you want to renew your lease, and it’s more likely to go up than down. That means if you start out over budget, the situation is just going to get worse as time goes on.
Think About Space Management
While you’re not likely to find the “perfect” space, it should still be workable. Does space make sense for what you want to do? Are there any area configurations that don’t make sense or are inconvenient? If there are, can you make changes to accommodate your needs better?
Places that have been converted from other purposes are more likely to have odd quirks; this is fine as long as those “quirks” don’t interfere with daily operations. Otherwise, you may end up losing efficiency, which can cost you in the long run.
Check for Safety Compliance
Safety is paramount in any workplace, so it’s crucial that you check that potential locations comply with safety codes. You’ll want to review the following:
- Elevator inspections
- Restroom requirements
- Handicap accessibility
- Fire alarms
Non-compliance can lead to major risks for both employees and customers. Should either incur damages due to non-compliance, you may be liable. Civil cases can result in financial hardship and irreparable damage to your business’s reputation.
Look at the Surroundings
Where you launch your eatery has a huge impact on its success. As you look for a space, ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of neighborhood is the location in?
- Is it up-and-coming or in decline?
- Are there any other restaurants nearby, or are you the only one for miles?
It’s a good idea not to have too much competition (you don’t have to be a pizzeria next to three other pizza places), but you don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere either. It’s best to be easily accessible to customers to bring in as much business as possible.
You also want to make sure your enterprise matches the needs of the neighborhood. For example, an expensive, formal dining option likely won’t do well in a lower-income area. Your chances of success are higher if you choose your location to appeal to customers.
Keep an Open Mind
You should give spaces a thorough inspection before determining whether they’ll work for you; otherwise, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. It’s easy to make snap judgments based on first impressions, but if you want to create a thriving business, you need to slow down and look at the facts. Sometimes this means taking a closer look at locations that are a little strange or unexpected.
There may be hidden benefits to a place’s quirks that you won’t discover if you don’t do a little digging. Give each place its due research, and don’t be afraid to use your imagination.
Read the Lease Carefully
Leases aren’t easy things to read — they’re often full of legalese and can be dozens of pages long. However, it’s essential that you thoroughly read and understand the entire lease before you sign anything. If necessary, have a lawyer look over the documents to spot any problematic clauses.
Why is this so important? A lease is legally binding, which means that you can be in for financial penalties or even be brought to court if you violate it. Additionally, the lease often specifies what kind of maintenance and repairs the landlord is expected to cover; anything not mentioned usually has to be covered by the tenet. An emergency is the worst time to find this out, so make sure you know exactly what you agree to before you commit.
Talk With the Landlord
You may be accompanied by a real estate agent or a property manager as you look at places. However, before you sign the lease, make sure you’re able to speak with the landlord — preferably in person, if possible. You want to know what kind of person owns the property you’ll be using, as you’ll likely have a long business relationship. Your landlord’s willingness to address issues, give clear answers to questions, and uphold agreements can have a direct impact on your restaurant, so it’s crucial that you know what kind of person you’re making an arrangement with.
Look for Hidden Fees
Part of reading the lease is understanding what rent covers and if there are additional fees. For example, some landlords charge a separate maintenance fee, which you’re expected to pay on top of rent. You may also be charged separately for electricity, water, trash pickup, and other services.
It’s essential that you know exactly what you’re expected to pay so you can keep to your budget. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure whether certain costs are folded into the rent.
Do Your Research
Finally, do your research before you head out. Talk to others who have opened their own restaurants, read about the process, and generally collect as much knowledge as possible before you even start your search. The more prepared you are, the less likely you will make a mistake when choosing your space.
We provide the complete portfolio of services, including accounting, leasing, and janitorial services, so you have one point of contact for any issue. We’re proud to connect business owners with a property that perfectly fits their needs, whether it’s a formal dining establishment or a low-key diner. For more information or to find a space, give us a call at 716-854-0060 or contact us online.
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Prostock-studio