Variety, creativity, individual innovation and dreams are frequently the driving force behind many of the country’s 880,000 restaurants. Daily, new seeds are planted, begin to grow and prosper while others seem to have reached their peak and begin to wilt like flowers at the end of autumn.
There always seems to be a new restaurant owner waiting down the street around the corner or at the curb, ready willing and assuming they are able to plunge into the perceived world of fun, frolic, celerity and wheelbarrows full of cash. The perception is deceiving. And, what is more deceiving is what lies beneath – the restaurant’s floor.
There is a substantial amount of money to be made in the remodeling and repositioning of old, faded, wrinkled, worn, and wilting restaurants. Often, a rapid remodel – merely cosmetic – with a complete change of menu, name, ambiance, service and attitude can do the trick on many a dining spot gone bad. There are many business owners who do this on a regular basis, then run the property for a year or so and eventually sell it to a chef or novice restaurant enthusiast with a dream. It’s not a bad way to get into – and out of the business.
This morning on my way to my office I passed five buildings in
On the same ride, I noticed spaces that were shuttered, then boarded up, had gone through the remodeling process more rapidly than some of their neighbors and had already opened for business, leaving lingering remodeling projects in the dust.
If you re contemplating taking over an existing restaurant and remodeling the space into our own vision, make sure that you check out the vital equipment in the space. I am not speaking of the stove, refrigeration, and other necessities that can be purchased, reasonably by comparison at any restaurant supply house. I am speaking of the hood, the vent, the Ansel system, and the fire sprinkling system that goes through the building. These are vital pieces of equipment that cost more money than anyone ever imagines or budgets for. Many of these systems are grand fathered into the previous restaurant’s permit and only need to be upgraded or changed upon a sale.
Plumbing and electrical also fall under the vital equipment category and although we seldom look at pipes and wires as equipment, you can’t operate anything in a restaurant without them. On more than one occasion future restaurateurs found broken pipes, clogged plumbing, substandard electrical power, faulty roofs and rumbling foundations in buildings they had their hopes set on. Often this fall under the tenant’s responsibility and the cost of bringing ancient pipes and wiring up to current code can cost more than an entire budget.
So while you are standing at the curb, salivating at the possibility the vacant space once housing a dining icon could be yous, remember to prudently look at the possibilities and problems you will be facing. Jumping into business with the intent of fulfilling your dream in a space that has electrical and plumbing problems could have a nightmare effect on your life. Step softly, check out the vitals of the space before you run to put your name on the door.