How Well Do You Know The Restaurant Space?
Leasing a commercial space is far less expensive than building your own restaurant from scratch, but you’ll still need help from a restaurant construction crew to customize it for your purposes. Since leased spaces come with their own histories, you need to do a little investigation before jumping into a lease agreement. Let a commercial contractor assist you in the evaluation of a leased space to determine if you’re getting a good deal or will end up spending too much to make it work for your restaurant plans.
First, check into the previous uses of the retail or commercial space. If the building only ever housed clothing stores, bookshops and other non-food businesses, the utilities are likely not up to code for supporting all the water and grease produced by a busy kitchen. The building owner might offer to upgrade the sewage connections and wiring for your equipment, but you could also end up paying for those upgrades yourself. Check into the major work required before accepting an offer from a landlord.
Of course, your planned menu has a big impact on what needs upgraded. A restaurant planning to serve pizzas cooked in super high heat ovens will need a much larger gas supply than one relying strictly on electric appliances. Finalize the basic plans for your restaurant before shopping for spaces so you don’t end up having to invest thousands of dollars in new utility connections after committing to the lease.
Some landlords are happy to cover all or part of the construction company costs associated with making the space suitable for your business. Others expect you to take care of it in full. Talk with the management company that owns the building to find out exactly what their move-in stipend covers — you might not even be allowed to make the changes you need to run a restaurant successfully out of your desired location. Bring along an experienced contractor while talking about these arrangements so you can get on-the-fly estimates. Expect to sign a long-term lease if your building owner agrees to pay for all the various changes needed to turn an empty building into a restaurant.
Check the Outside Too
Restaurant owners sometimes focus so much on finding a building with amazing kitchen space or plenty of natural light for the dining area that they forget to look around outside before signing a lease. Restaurants need extra storage for waste, discreet areas for washing off greasy equipment into a properly trapped drain, and great landscaping to draw customers in. Parking lot issues and road access cause diners and bistros alike to fail before they even get a chance to try. You don’t want to end up delaying your grand opening by months or even years because the entire exterior needs an overhaul too.