7 Site Selection Tips for Leasing Bar/Restaurant Space

Location is key in any real estate deal, but there’s a lot more to commercial site selection than you might think. The space you choose to lease for your bar or restaurant can be a deciding factor in the success or failure of the business.

Here are just a few of the factors you should be evaluating when viewing available commercial space for lease, and considering before signing on the dotted line.

1) Accessibility

How easily can your customers access your business? Are there stairs leading to your front door? Is there suitable space for patrons to line up while waiting for entry? Can drivers easily turn into your business’ parking lot, or do they have to cross in front of oncoming traffic?

2) Visibility

Can your bar be seen from the street? Or are there trees or other buildings blocking the view? Visibility by both drive-by and walk-by traffic is ideal.

3) Parking

We have seen parking to be a highly contentious issue—and one of the hardest things to correct after the lease has been signed. There are typically only so many parking spaces assigned and, once they are taken, they are gone.

Negotiate for plenty of parking spots so that you, your staff and your patrons all have a place to leave vehicles. Consider where those parking spaces are located as well—those closer to your business door are naturally preferable.

4) Signage

What type of signage is available to you? Where is it located? Where would your business name be placed on a common pylon sign shared by other tenants?

Would you, as a commercial tenant, be charged for any additional signage requested? Negotiate now for “grand opening” signage such as banners and/or pull-away signs.

5) Neighboring tenants

Find out who is doing business directly next door to you. Will this tenant be conducive or detrimental to your business?

While asking the landlord/landlord’s agent about these neighboring tenants, it can be a good idea to meet and quiz them for yourself. Be friendly and polite and introduce yourself as a prospective new tenant and ask pointed questions about the location; what you learn may very well surprise you.

6) Anchor tenants

These are the major businesses/retailers that pull customer traffic to a property, typically, major grocery or department stores. Consider the stability of those anchors. How long have they remained in the property? Are they planning to stay there or move?

We recall a case in which many tenants leasing in a small shopping plaza were caught off-guard when the major grocery store anchor moved out.

What’s more, large grocery chains will frequently continue to pay rent on a vacant commercial space to avoid having a competitor moving in, which is not good for generating traffic for the remaining tenants.

7) Broker

Friend or Foe? It is not uncommon for a commercial bar tenant to believe that the agent or broker is working for them.

But keep in mind that the listing agent’s commission is being paid by the landlord, and even an outside agent may be sharing in that commission. So the higher the rent, often the higher the agent’s commission.

Brokers and agents do a great job, but you have to consider who they are doing the job for and who is paying them to do it. Even the most altruistic agent can’t serve two masters equally.

There is much more to site selection than meets the eye. Remember that a good business in a poor location ultimately becomes a poor business.

Dale Willerton and Jeff Grandfield are commercial lease consultants with The Lease Coach who work exclusively for tenants, as well as professional speakers and co-authors of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals For Dummies. For more information, visit www.TheLeaseCoach.com.

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