It’s the year of the rapid-fire remodel for restaurant across the country. With spring quickly approaching and owners who struggled throughout the bleak months of winter ponder their future; this may be the prime time to reboot your concept or look to develop a new one before the season begins.
The industry is not ignorant to the flash reboot. But such a remodel been looked at as a way for the under capitalized to repaint, redesign, and reopen a failed space under another name. My first real restaurant fell into this category. I was under capitalized and acquired the lease; the space and the equipment for a fraction of what the package was were under conventional conditions. But in 1992 that recession was lingering and the price was right. With a new concept and direction, the volume, customer count and popularity of the space increased rapidly. . Two years later, I sold the 50 seat caf? that was producing $800,000.00 in yearly revenue.
Currently, similar economic conditions make the possibility of a quick acquisition or remodel a realistic possibility.
In yesterday’s New York Times dining section, Mark Rozzo highlighted the remodel of a space in the Cooper Square Hotel where Chef Scott Conant quickly transformed Table 8 into Faustina. The previous tenant “evacuated” less than three weeks ago, before Conant began the culinary face lift. According to the article, Conant will open by this weekend.
And this trend is sweeping the industry and the country. Small spaces that could not survive the darkness of the economy or the short days of winter are flooding the market. But they are not staying vacant long as landlords are lowering rents to attract future tenants and structuring deals so they can succeed.
The rapid remodel is not necessarily the answer to all of the problems that currently are affecting the industry. Owners will find that the rapid remodel works best if done in a space already occupied, permitted and licensed and those licenses do not have to be transferred or moved.
As owners already in the business know, the wheels of bureaucracy – liquor commissions, health departments and building and plumbing inspectors – can impede any rapidity that an owner has in mind.
So after reading about the successes of the quick transforming remake, realize that all that works on paper always has its hurdles, potholes and roadblocks. The best way to accomplish a successful remodel is on a space you already own, in a neighborhood you really enjoy, and make the transformation colorful, quick, easy and appealing. In the long run it will be worth the few weeks it takes to accomplish it.