It usually happens at night. While driving or walking by a restaurant almost completely empty the light- in your head – goes off.
The voice enters that space we are all familiar with and before long it begins, only in a whisper at first, to plant ideas in the other part of our brain that has completely divorced itself from the thought of another location.
Soon we find ourselves purposely walking or driving by the location that caught our eye as we begin the tracking and spying process of any good sale. Eventually, we find ourselves computing numbers, analyzing the neighborhood, studying the market until we are coaxed, by the miniscule whispering voice to go in and try the food.
Respectfully, of course, we realize the food sucks. It is the worst, borderline rancid conglomeration of dishwasher prepared ingredients we have ever tasted. While our taste buds are disgusted or voice is suddenly leaping for joy while yelling improvements can be made here, we can bring this place back to life and turn it into a rocket ship styled restaurant that will compute into a cash machine. Should we call it ATM? And so it goes until we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of negotiations with the owner who is tired, bedrazzled and bewildered hoping to get out with more than just a few pieces of rustic memorabilia, his recipe box and a few bucks for a consulting contract.
So enthused at the prospect of another location you do little in the form of structural inspection and before you know it the papers are signed, the money is transferred and guess what? Suddenly the miniscule voice – once your friend – is now laughing shouting “Are you crazy, why would you do such a thing?”
Then the fun begins.
We have all stepped into that…movie. I have done it numerous times. The last time I did it was on
I should have done a better job of inspecting the property. Hindsight is always more clear than the vision blurred by excitement and enthusiasm.
Last week I walked by the old space – nine years after that lack of pluming experience and found that a new restaurant owner had bought out the restaurant owner who bought me out. The windows in the space had been papered for some time so I was aware a new owner was close behind. Looking inside I saw the space had almost been gutted, not because of the wild dreams of the new owner but because the electrical and plumbing and drainage needed a complete overhaul before anything could be cooked, poured, or presented.
In a brief conversation with the contractor I was told the wiring was bad, the plumbing was failing and the previous owner was very fortunate that nothing had happened to the building under those circumstances.
The lesson here is a tough one to realize. When signing a lease make sure that you inspect the books, but also make sure to clearly inspect the premises and the property that you are leasing. Seldom in a budget projection to owners or accountants line-in “previous tenant disasters” or “landlord avoidance issues”. However, anyone who has owned more than one restaurant should be aware that plumbing, electrical, grease trap malfunction and refrigeration failure are all plays in the game between landlord and tenant.
Keep in mind, the foundation for a successful restaurant: Inspected location, inspected location, inspected location.