Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the restaurant industry. Unfortunately, some establishments weren't able to bounce back and have closed their doors. The silver lining is that there are many commercial real estate options open for entrepreneurs to start new restaurants and diversify the culinary landscape.
Picking a suitable space to buy or lease for your restaurant is one of the most vital decisions you'll make for your business. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect spot.
The first thing you need to do is figure out what type of people you want to come into your restaurant. How old are they? How much money do they make? What's their race or ethnicity?
You'll find that different parts of the city attract a diverse clientele, whether you're in Houston, TX or Boston, MA. This can even vary based on a mile or two, so it's essential to do your research.
Use demographics from the U.S. Census website to find this information. All you have to do is type in a zip code, county, or city, and the site will tell you the average age, ethnicity, and income level of residents. Then you can use this information to find areas of the city where you would like to search for commercial real estate listings.
Once you've figured out what zip codes you're targeting, you need to learn what other restaurants are in the area. Any online map tool can help with this, or you can go to the site, walk around, get a feel for the area.
First, determine whether any eateries serve similar cuisine to yours, especially if they're in the same style. Your new sit-down sushi restaurant might not do well if there's another similar concept a block down the street. If there's a restaurant that serves similar food to yours in the area, figure out how you'll differentiate yourself and make your food and dining concept unique.
You might also want to avoid areas that have many restaurants already established. While this shows that there are customers in the area, it might also mean that the market is too saturated.
Pay attention to other stores in the neighborhood that aren't restaurants, too. You'll likely attract people who are nearby to shop, so make sure that these shops are relevant to your target demographic.
Many restaurants depend on walk-in customers. If you plan to find business this way, ensuring that your potential restaurant is visible from the street and the sidewalk is extremely important.
Walk and drive past the space for lease in several different directions. How soon can you see the building coming up as you approach? Is there enough time to turn into the parking lot once you've seen the building? Is any of the current signage big enough to announce what the business does? How easy is it to see the inside of a building from the sidewalk? Can people get an idea of what's inside?
Be aware of trees or other buildings that make it more challenging to see the location. It would help if you also looked for any vacant lots near the property. Your landlord will likely want to build something on an empty lot in the future, and you'll have no control over how it will impact the sightline of your restaurant.
When you're touring a new property for lease, make discussing the parking situation one of your priorities. While you may not need a parking lot in a city like Chicago, IL, it's much better to have a dedicated spot for your patrons to park in most areas.
If there's only street parking near your potential restaurant, check to see how full it is on a Friday or Saturday night. When customers can't find parking, they'll likely go elsewhere.
You also need to pay attention to signage. Many landlords will have restrictions on what types of signs you can put up, making your business much less visible to people from the sidewalk or the street. Discuss whether you'll be able to put up a sign and how large it can be before you sign the lease.
Finding the right restaurant space can take some time. It would help if you waited for a space that you're excited about, which will help set your restaurant up for success.
If you need help finding potential restaurant spaces for lease in your area, MyEListing can help. MyEListing makes it easy to find commercial real estate listings in your area, and you can search available listings for free! Get started today!