Location can really make or break a restaurant’s success. Sometimes it’s having enough parking to fill the seats in your restaurant. Other times it may be the ease of access. Don’t just pick a location because it’s turnkey. Make sure you do your homework.
If you already have a location, think about how you could improve it with each of the criteria below.
Use these 7 “Success Factors” to evaluate or improve your restaurant’s location:
1. Visibility & Foot Traffic – How visible is it to passers-by, and how much foot traffic does the location already have? Do cars drive by the location a lot? Are there businesses nearby whose employees might be your regular customers? How much “low-hanging” traffic can you pick up, just from day one? You want all of these factors to work in your favor, not be something you are constantly fighting to overcome. Take your time to really analyze the location during all different times of the day (including days of the week!)
2. Parking – Imagine you have a completely full house and every seat is filled. Is there enough parking for every single one of your patrons? Make sure the land you buy includes this critical space. In the United States people will choose to go to another restaurant if parking looks like too much of a hassle.
3. Accessibility & Convenience – Let’s face it: people want things to be easy. Make sure there is convenient ingress and egress for your customers, including those with disabilities. If you have to make three U-turns to get into your parking lot, it doesn’t matter how great your food is, people will follow the path of least resistance.
4. Surrounding Businesses and Direct Competitors – How are other businesses doing in your same area? Are they thriving? Going out of business? This can tell you a lot. Also look out for direct competitors in the area. You might not want to open a pizza place directly in front of Pizza Hut. You want the other businesses that rely on foot traffic to be doing well, but you don’t want too many identical competing businesses, either.
5. Building Condition – It might be the quaintest & most charming space this side of French Provence, but don’t let your love of the atmosphere blind you to the actual conditions of the building. Check that the building is in good repair and that leasehold improvements are reasonable.
6. Zoning. You might be surprised to learn that zoning of restaurants is different in Albuquerque than the rest of New Mexico. Often you need to know your local zoning laws, on top of your state & federal ones. And sometimes the location that clearly looks like it was meant to be a restaurant might not be zoned correctly for one. You need to know all of this before you buy.
Bear in mind your restaurant must be at least 300 feet from schools and churches in New Mexico to obtain a liquor license. Knowing the proper zoning laws can be a minefield. (If you have any questions about the zoning of your particular location feel free to call us at 505-343-9848 to get an answer )
7. Legal Protection. In short, HAVE A LAWYER REVIEW YOUR LEASE. Nothing beats the professional eye of a seasoned lawyer who will protect you against any hidden pitfalls you may have missed.
I recently saw a news story about a restaurant that had to move from a successful location TWICE because he didn’t have a lease that protected him from his landlord.
Can you imagine finally establishing your restaurant and your landlord leases your restaurant space right out from under you?