The Importance of Your Restaurant Location
There are many things to consider when choosing a restaurant location. For a perfect match, restaurant owners need to undertake serious research. Study your customers’ psychographics, look into the demographics of potential neighborhoods and areas, consider the competition, floor space, lease terms, and more. There’s a lot to take into account before making an offer or signing a lease, so once you have a shortlist of places, start mulling over these five essential points.
Make a list of all the direct competitors that are in the proximity of your selected locations. Whether you prefer handwriting or manage all your business data digitally, be organized and keep a record of any information you come across.
You want to gauge every aspect of their restaurant experience and management. Before visiting each establishment, go to their website, read their restaurant reviews, analyze the type of advertising they use. Next, visit the restaurant itself, even book a table or sit at the bar. Interact with the guests to get their point of view. Take notes of the décor, menu offerings, prices, service, and anything else that draws your attention. Also jot down important technical details, like the seating capacity, the number of diners at different times, customers’ demographics, their dwell-time and order size, even if just approximate.
Once you have all the information clearly in front of you, ask yourself whether the local area is already saturated with your restaurant concept, or, on the contrary, will it be completely out of place? The ideal situation is to have complimentary restaurants, which offer a price point more or less in the same range as your own. The advantage of having semi-competitors nearby is that they help establish specific areas within a community that increase foot traffic because they offer multiple eating options. Opt for the location that places you in a cluster with complimentary restaurants but away from any direct competitors.
Get Down to the Details
As you’re narrowing down the list of locations to a select few, consider these final pieces of real estate-related information:
- Property type: A property’s past can serve as a prediction tool for the success of your business. Consider taking over a space that previously housed a restaurant, especially if you are a first-timer restaurant owner. Find out as much as you can about the challenges former tenants had in attracting new as well as loyal customers, and about the restaurant’s popularity and reputation. A former restaurant will probably have the appropriate layout to begin with, but you still need to get a trusted professional to assess the condition of the property to avoid running into unexpected and costly repairs. Make sure the place is properly zoned and that there is a high-speed internet provider available in the area.
- Floor space: Even the smallest café contains a kitchen, storage space and refrigerators and a dining room where guests should feel comfortable and not constantly bump into each other. Remember that a space looks much bigger before it’s filled up with all the equipment a restaurant needs.
- Lease Terms: Usually, there’s no standard lease agreement. If played right, this can give you leeway to negotiate favorable terms. Opening a restaurant requires a significant investment, and making profits and paying everyone back will take some time. A multi-year lease, then, is a big commitment but one that is likely to pay off. Besides length, also consider tenant improvements, sublease and even a non-compete clause.
- Safety: It is your responsibility to make sure the building is safe in terms of wiring, fire safety standards, handicap-accessible restrooms and ramps, and so on. Also consider the neighborhood itself. Are the streets leading to and from the restaurant well-lit? Is it a safe community?
Make Your Restaurant Visible
Visibility is the most effective way to announce your presence to hungry passerby and get walk-in business. Your restaurant should have an attractive sign and be discoverable on mobile apps, whether it’s in a high-density area or not.
Unrelated to advertising, determine the visibility potential of your restaurant by looking at foot and car traffic patterns. How many people walk by the area every day and whether the specific building offers a convenient resting spot. As for car traffic, consider whether people who pass by your restaurant and have seen the sign have enough time to turn around and check it out.
Sometimes, the first place you see might feel like the perfect spot. Do not rush into buying or leasing it. Be sure to visit multiple sites and visit the same prospective restaurant sites during different times of day and on different days. Places have a tendency to shift form during day/night time, which can greatly affect the success of your business. To make the right, rational decision, you’ll have to do the proper research. Not only will you considerably lower the risk of opening a business, but you will also get a better understanding of your business and what it takes to make it great.