Do you own a restaurant, or perhaps just love dining at them? Has a restaurant in your community closed its doors recently? Either way, you could be on a streak of good luck. Businesses that were not able to pivot during COVID have created prime real-estate openings for new or expanding restaurants. Here are a few things to consider before signing the lease or taking out that mortgage:
- Look for by-right use sites on the local zoning map. This will save you time and money with your building permit.
- Sites that were previously the same type of restaurant as you are proposing will often be easier to renovate, saving on construction costs.
- Confirm the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing utilities meet your proposed needs. This will save you on design and construction cost.
- Involve your design and construction team from the very beginning to avoid unnecessary surprises and the accompanying expense. Your design team can also share ideas and methods for the most efficient design leading to construction and operational savings. And, always remember the great importance of design in creating that environment that draws in your customers and keeps them coming back.
Locale to Market
- Do your demographic search to identify the customer base you are seeking.
- Verify the distance from your proposed location to the center of your market, ensuring it is a viable location and delivery is feasible/practical.
- Check out the neighboring businesses; they may bring you competition, they may bring you customers, and they may bring you both!
Nothing is Perfect
- Just because the building type is not the same as your existing locations or is not just what you envisioned; it does not mean it is not a viable location/investment.
- Building in an existing box often requires you to think outside of the box. Flexibility is key.
- Know your core requirements. Have fun with the rest.
Look for Warning Signs
- Even though the site location is a dream come true, certain site conditions can ruin it for you. Or they can create an amazing opportunity; seek the guidance of your design/build team.
- If utilities and accessibility compliance need upgrades, it can be costly. Again, consult with your design team to be able to make an informed and reasoned decision on the site.
Our country is building momentum towards fully opening. If you enjoy new cuisine in your neighborhood, get ready because it is coming! If you are a restauranteur now is a great time to make moves on relocation and expansion. Contact us at JL Architects to help you assess a site you have an interest in. We can help you think outside the box while building inside an existing box. Restaurant design and repurposing buildings is something we have a great deal of experience with. You most likely have experience managing a restaurant. Let’s collaborate to make something great.
-Nate Houser, Food & Beverage Project Manager