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How to Find Restaurants for Sale or Lease

If you are looking to find a restaurant for lease or restaurant for sale there are four typical approaches you can use.

  • Internet Sites
  • Restaurant Real Estate Brokers
  • Business Brokers
  • Commercial Real Estate Brokers
  • For Lease Signs
  • Search for Off Market Deals

The first decision you need to make is the type of restaurant space you are looking to lease or purchase. There are two choices.

  • Shell space
  • 2ndGeneration Space

Most franchises and national chain restaurants prefer to build-out their prototype store and search for space in shell condition.

Many first-time restaurateurs or independent restaurateurs prefer 2ndgeneration space that is currently or formerly built for restaurant use.

Internet Sites

If you have ever purchased a home, you have probably heard of the MLS or Multiple Listing Service.

If the house is listed with a real estate agent you will find it on the MLS. Today most residential listings can be found on numerous real estate websites.

Unfortunately, there is no centralized MLS for commercial real estate or restaurant properties.

There are numerous free and paid services that advertise either commercial properties for lease, business opportunities including restaurants and sites specifically advertising restaurants for sale and restaurants for lease. At this time there is no perfect solution.

The following is a partial list of sites that advertise commercial properties, business opportunities or available restaurants for sale or lease:

Restaurants for Sale and Lease:




Commercial Listings:




Business Opportunities:




Restaurant Real Estate Brokers

A restaurant real estate broker will specialize and work exclusively with restaurant operators to either buy, sell or lease restaurant properties.

A restaurant real estate broker should have in depth knowledge of lease agreements, business sales and acquisitions, parking codes and liquor license regulations. An experienced restaurant real estate broker will have extensive relationships with advisors that specialize in restaurant transactions such as architects, kitchen designers, contractors, liquor license expediters and attorneys.

Business Brokers

Business brokers typically sell a broad range of businesses. They may or may not have much experience with lease agreements and the many lease issues that can affect a business. There are many business brokers that do not cooperate with other brokers and limit access to their listings to buyers that contact them directly. If you decide to use a business broker to purchase a restaurant or sell a restaurant confirm in writing that they will cooperate and share a commission with brokers from a company other their own. Otherwise you risk seeing a limited number of opportunities or buyers if you are selling.

Commercial Real Estate Brokers

Commercial real estate covers a broad range of property types. Most commercial real estate agent or brokers specialize in a specific type of property or geographical area. For example, office agents specialize in office buildings and retail agents typically lease or sell retail properties and shopping centers. Most commercial real estate agents don’t have experience with business sales or acquisitions. If you plan to use a commercial real estate agent to secure a restaurant for lease, make sure they have some experience with restaurant leasing and are familiar with the specialized needs of restaurant operators.

For Lease Signs

Driving the neighborhoods that fit your concept is a great way to learn the market and determine important factors such as traffic patterns and which areas attract the most visitors.

Unfortunately, driving and calling “For Lease” signs is time consuming and frustrating.

If you want to know even basic information such as square footage, rental rate and if restaurant use permitted, you will need to leave a phone number and hope you receive a return call.

To make matters worse, you won’t know which property you called about unless you keep detailed notes.

Off Market Deals

This is the least used method by first-time restaurateurs. Rather than looking for available restaurants for sale and lease, specific properties are selected with the intent to buy the existing restauant from the current tenant or to negotiate a future lease with the landlord when the current lease expires.

This can be a very time-consuming process and requires the patience to possibly wait months or years into the future for a specific restaurant site.

If you wish to take this approach you will need to research the contact information for the landlord and existing restaurant owner.  A restaurant real estate advisor can assist you with researching and contacting the parties involved.

In summary the methods above provide the most common ways to lease or buy a restaurant. No matter which options you chose, align yourself with experts that can help you navigate the many minefields of leasing or buying a restaurant.

Are you leasing a restaurant or buying an existing restaurant? Download our free report.

This article was originally published August 31, 2014

The post How to Find Restaurants for Sale or Lease appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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How to reduce risk of a personal guaranty of restaurant lease

What is a personal guaranty for a restaurant lease?

A personal guaranty is a security instrument whereby the person signing the guaranty “Guarantor” remains liable for the monetary obligations of the restaurant lease.

If you operate your business as a corporation or limited liability company and wish to lease commercial real estate, the property owner will often require a personal guaranty.

Why should you be concerned about signing a guaranty?

Many business owners do not give much thought to signing a guaranty. As an honest person you intend to pay your rent during your tenancy. But what if you assign the lease or sell the restaurant?

A personal guaranty will typically remain in effect for the entire term of the lease and any options if exercised. With typical lease terms of five to ten years, you can remain liable years into the future for a restaurant you no longer own.


The following is a true story. A franchisee with multiple stores sold one of his restaurants and assigned the lease to the new owner.

Approximately three years later he was notified by the landlord that the restaurant  had closed and he was liable for rent.

He had signed a personal guaranty for a restaurant lease with a term of 10 years.

How do you protect yourself when signing a personal guaranty?

There are different methods to reduce your risk exposure with a personal guaranty. Here are a few ways:

Limit the period of time

Reduce the period of time that you remain liable. If you are signing a five year lease, limit the personal guaranty to the first 24 or 36 months.

Limit the guaranty to a fixed amount of money

Reduce the total liability to the lowest fixed dollar amount. For example the maximum personal guaranty shall be limited to an amount equal to twelve months rent.

Increase Security Deposit

If you have the capital available increase the security deposit. For example, a landlord may agree to a security deposit equal to 6, 9 or 12 months rent. Many landlords will agree to burn off the deposit over time if you pay rent on time. For example, landlord will provide a credit towards rent for the 13th, 25th, 37th and 61st months rent so that you deposit is reduced over time.

This article provided a few examples of how a personal guaranty can jeopardize your financial future when you sell your business and/or assign a lease.

Want to avoid common mistakes when you lease a restaurant? Download your free report. NO EMAIL REQUIRED!

Do you have questions about opening a new restaurant? I’m here to help and happy to answer your questions.

Just click here to submit your questions.


Mark Chase

Restaurant Real Estate Advisors

The post Personal Guaranty of Restaurant Lease-How to Reduce Your Risk appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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As Concordia St. Paul has noted, the commonly held notion that “90% of restaurants fail in the first year” might be a bit exaggerated; the true number is closer to 60%, a common rate for businesses across many industries. While this is encouraging for many prospective restaurant owners, it is important to remember that the threat of failure still exists, especially if a new venture is ill-advised or badly managed.

Aspiring new restaurant owners should have some experience in the industry so they know how to run the business from the ground up. According to Warehouse 115, you can keep costs low, by sourcing ingredients from a reputable wholesale supplier while investing in a good location, a distinct concept, hard-working staff, and innovative management. Let’s go over some of these basics in detail.

Excellent Location and Concept

These two elements go hand in hand. When you are thinking about your location, you should also consider the community you’re serving, so that you can settle on a concept. Are you setting up shop in a metropolitan area where there are a lot of young professionals? You may want to think about a café, tea house, or fast-casual restaurant that can serve as an informal meeting place or “third space,” a concept that evokes Starbucks’ set of aesthetic and service features that contribute to greater customer service experiences.

However, if you’re opening up near a suburb with a large number of single family homes, you might want to think about a sit-down family restaurant.

In terms of location, make sure your business is located in a busy area that is clearly visible from the street. It helps to have a good parking set-up too. As for your concept, do research on businesses and key demographics in the area so that you can personalize your business and set yourself apart from local competitors.

Solid Management and Winning Staff

You may have a great menu, but having the wrong management and staff can make it far too easy to run a restaurant into the ground, especially in the first year. After the excitement fades after your initial opening, you might see business drop. You need a solid management team that can run the restaurant and keep it afloat during that period and after. For example, management should be able to keep costs low and facilities clean. Many restaurants have been prematurely shut down because of health concerns, or they may have overspent on overhead costs while ignoring falling revenue.

You should also prioritize hiring enthusiastic and talented staff. A skilled chef is a must for many types of restaurants, and you need a great menu that will keep customers coming back for me. Also, excellent service can make or break a customer’s experience, so take your employees’ temperament, previous experience, and problem-solving skills into account prior to opening for business.


Keep in mind that running a restaurant takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. Successful owners must have an indelible passion for their business along with the motivation and flexibility to change with industry trends if they expect to survive, and ultimately thrive. You may experience a few initial obstacles while opening your restaurant, but you shouldn’t let those setbacks discourage you! If you have a sound strategy, a viable location, and something new to offer your community, you can expect success to build over time.

Author Bio: Michael Vincent is a freelance food writer and restaurateur from Dallas, TX. As a serious foodie, Michael is constantly seeking new and exciting food in Texas and around the world.

The post What Does It Take For New Restaurant Owners to Succeed? appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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According to a survey of restaurant owners published on Forbes, it might take three years for an average restaurant to lock in a profit. While some new restaurant owners may already have the resources to fund their new business, it’s very common to underestimate costs and run short.

One of the most common reasons for the failure of new businesses in general is a lack of capital. The restaurant business may be particularly vulnerable to this risk.

Where to Find Funding for Restaurants
  1. Banks

Bank loan officers might agree to lend a restaurant owner money for startup, operating, or growth costs. However, banks tend to look for owners who have already proven themselves in the industry or in some other business. They usually want proof of an owner’s stake and good business credit scores before they will approve a loan. Banks also tend to favor large and long-term loans.

For established restaurant owners who need a large loan, a bank might offer the best option. For example, a restaurant owner with a few years in the business might contact a bank for money to build a second restaurant that is similar to one that has already been successful. However, new restaurant owners may encounter barriers to an approval if they cannot demonstrate experience and good credit.

  1. Online Lines of Credit

Online lending platforms may lend from $2,000 up to $100,000 for funding for restaurants. These lenders also want to see some proof that the restaurant owner can bring in revenues. However, they may not require as long as a track record as a traditional bank will. In addition, they don’t require business credit scores and can use other information to validate a borrower.

An online lender might offer a fairly new restaurateur a good option. The owner can apply and get approved online very quickly. In addition, online lenders are famous for funding approved loans very fast. The lender will only require the business owner to pay fees on the amount of money they need to withdraw, so this can be a very flexible option for a newer business.

  1. Business Partners or Investors

Investment money isn’t a loan; it’s actually a purchase of a share of the business. This is positive because it doesn’t require the owner to go into debt so quickly. On the other hand, the original founder may have to give up some control of his or her business to the investor.

People who would rather give up some control in return for greater security may benefit from finding a partner or investor. Still, it might be tough for fairly new owners to find wealthy people or partners who are willing to take a risk. Finding investors isn’t always easy.

  1. Personal Resources or Friends and Family

Most new U.S. businesses rely somewhat on personal resources. For example, the owner may choose to use his or her personal credit or savings account to fund the dream of owning a restaurant. While it’s common to use personal funds or ask friends and family to help, this approach has its limits.

It takes money to establish and run a restaurant until it turns a consistent profit. Unless the owner has access to wealthy relatives, he or she will risk running out of funds before the business really has a chance to thrive. If personal loans from friends and family can’t get paid back, the owner also risks hurting relationships with others.

When Should Restaurant Owners Consider Funding?

The best concept for a new eating establishment will fail if the owner lacks sufficient resources to keep it in business until it can sustain itself. Some low-investment kinds of restaurants may succeed very quickly, but commonly, it takes several months or even a few years.

One of the first thing a restaurant business should do is create a business plan that outlines how the company can pay operating expenses during the initial founding and growth stages. The process of drawing up these plans can help the potential business owner understand the reality of the restaurant business. In addition, the owner will need a good business plan to attract many lenders and investors and therefore gain the capability to keep their restaurant business growing long into the future.

Article provided by Kabbage.com.

Kabbage helps small businesses get the funding they need to grow. Through a fully automated, online platform, businesses can link their latest business data, allowing us to review the overall health of their business to approve and provide lines of credit up to $100,000 in minutes.

The post Funding for Restaurants-4 Funding Resources for Restaurants appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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Michael Philippou & Victoria Philippou are the Co-Founders of Frozen Fruit Co. Frozen Fruit Co makes FroFru, a revolutionary vegan friendly soft serve made just from fruit and natural fruit sugars.

Please provide some information on your background and how you got into the food business?

Our journey into the food business began back in London, England. We were training as lawyers and as part of this our Law Firm sent us to do an MBA, before we starting our training at the firm. It was during this year that we both met and it planted the seeds of wanting to start and grow our own business.

Of course, we had no idea what business we actually wanted to do and furthermore we were tied in with our law firm in London for the next two years. It took about two years to come up with our concept. We were constantly searching and looking for gaps in the market. However, somehow we always came back to food.

We both love food (especially the sweeter things). One evening, Victoria came up with the idea for our FroFru. She had made the first ever batch of mango and strawberry and it was amazing. We couldn’t stop eating it. This was our light bulb moment. Why had no one ever made a healthier frozen treat made just from fruit and natural fruit sugars – a dessert which has big flavor, but that you can feel great about eating.

Frozen Fruit Co grew from there. We started researching the market, making batches and going on ice cream courses. No one was making anything close to what we were making in our apartment. The closest thing is a sorbet, but this is basically sugar water mixed with fruit flavor. In fact a lot of people in the industry simply thought it wouldn’t work. We used no base for any of our flavors and our FroFru simply did not fit into any frozen dessert category – ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt.

Within a few weeks of coming up with the idea, we knew LA and not London would be the perfect market. Less seasonal, more health conscious and the birth place of frozen desserts brands like Pinkberry. It took over two years to get here from London. In the interim, all we could do was test our flavors and branding in the UK and this is what we did. Selling small batches to retail stores and supermarkets. It wasn’t until we were starting to knock on the doors of supermarkets and garner feedback from them that we thought our desserts were really ready for the move to Los Angeles.

Prior to starting the process of finding a new location for Frozen Fruit Co., how long did you anticipate it would take to find a location and open for business?

Our time line for finding and opening was extremely tight. Everything was tied into our visa. We needed to show we had a lease and that the business would definitely launch before our visa would be granted. We had 3 months in Los Angeles to find a lease before we had to return to London. We then planned another 3 months from signing the lease before opening. From starting to look for a location to opening we anticipated a 6 month timeline. Whilst finding and signing a lease we managed within 3 months, it took 10 months from signing to opening the business. We completely underestimated the build out and the permitting process.

How did you first start looking for locations and what were your biggest challenges? I have been told by many clients that brokers advertising on sites such as loopnet are very non responsive. Was this your experience?

We had no knowledge of the Los Angeles real estate market or the real estate system. The system is different in the UK from searching to negotiating. We knew the main locations Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, but we needed to get a grip of all the areas to find the best location. To begin with our search focused on foot. We racked up the miles trying to get a feel for the types of units available and locations. We covered the whole of Los Angeles within 3 weeks. We started to call brokers directly after seeing advertisements on available buildings. However, often we would get no reply or the units were already let, or the landlord did not want a food concept. We had decided to narrow down our search to the Beverly Hills/West Hollywood area and Santa Monica. By this point we had found Loopnet, but it was very non-responsive and out of date. We felt like were missing something. It was at this point we started looking for a broker. We wanted someone specific to the industry and with restaurant experience. It was this point we found Mark. Mark helped us greatly in our search.

Through all of this the biggest challenge was being able to pitch to potential landlords our new concept. We didn’t have the time to source ingredients or the proper equipment to make our desserts. Time was just too limited. All we had was a pitch pack of our operations in the UK before closing and moving over and samples of our branding and packaging. This meant we had to really sell the concept. Something which was made more difficult by the fact that no one else was doing it and there was no easily definable category, like ice cream, which landlords could identify our offing with. We weren’t ice cream, or slushies we were FroFru.

How was your access to information working with a restaurant real estate advisor compared to searching on your own?

Access to information before we started working with a broker was basically limited to what we could find on the internet and Google. We both came from a legal background so being able to understand terms and leases was not the issue. What we lacked was knowledge on how to open a restaurant and the specific terms we would need in our lease. Having a broker on board who had this experience to help guide us made all the difference. Someone who could fill these gaps in our knowledge and point us in the right direction.

Before we get into the details of finding a location and negotiating a lease, what should readers know about the process of opening a business as a foreign citizen? What are the basic requirements to operate in the U.S.?

At the time of opening we came on an E2 visa. This is a business investment visa. Under it most individuals will buy a pre-existing business or franchise in the United States. The minimum investment is $100,000 and you need to show you are creating US jobs and that your business or franchise is viable and a going concern. If you decided to buy a business or franchise the process is much simpler as you often are simply taking over a pre-existing lease. The process becomes harder when you want to start a whole new concept from scratch, like we did. This is because you need to find and get in place a lease for your business, as well as spend at least $75,000 of the start-up funds (75% of the minimum required investment funds) before you can apply for your visa. This is combined with a detailed business plan and 5 year financial forecasts which are independently reviewed and approved by a certified CPA.

How long did it take you to receive a visa and what tips do you have for someone trying to get a visa?

The visa process is long and detailed. It took around a year from starting the process to getting our visa. Having an experienced immigration attorney is vital. You need to be organized and planned. Start getting all your documents in place early and make sure you have your funds in place before you begin the process. Also, allow for a buffer because it is inevitable that the process will take longer than you expect and costs will run over.

One of the challenges for new citizens when dealing with landlords is a lack of credit history. I always tell my clients to establish a bank account in the U.S. early in the process to provide proof of funds. What advice do you have to prove credit worthiness?

If you have never lived in the US before you will have no credit history here. We both had excellent credit scores in the UK, but in the US nothing. When you move you are starting from scratch.  The best thing to do is to bring your domestic credit score with you. Get as many references both personal and credit before you move. The more the better and the more you can give to landlords as proof of your credit worthiness. Once you have moved to the USA open a bank account as soon as possible and start building your credit again. It takes time, but it is something we have managed to achieve in around a year (it takes time before you can even get rated).

In addition to credit worthiness, landlords want to learn about your concept.

I know in your case the landlord wanted to try your frozen fruit product. This was not possible since you did not have a production kitchen in the U.S. You did provide branded cups and other examples of your branding to the landlord. What suggestions do you have to win over a skeptical landlord?

Being able to offer samples of what you are doing is always the best option. However, remember your landlord may not be your target customer, so that does not always matter. What you need to focus on is to show your landlord that your concept will allow you to pay rent every month, attract customers and give you a profit. If you already have a pre-existing site or business abroad then show them your reviews, social media, your website, pictures of your store and concept.  Take them through your business plan and financial forecasts. Find similar concepts which have taken off and explain to the landlord how you aim to capitalize on this type of market and why your concept would attract them.

What criteria did you use to evaluate possible locations and what suggestions do you have for others to determine if a location is good for their concept?

Size, visibility, rental rate and location.

Footfall is particularly hard to measure in Los Angeles. People tend to drive directly to where they need to go.

Size is especially important to consider in the food industry. You need to think carefully about your square foot utilization. If you are a sit down dining restaurant this is particularly important. The cost per square foot in areas like Beverly Hills and Santa Monica are high and it is only your seating area which is covering your costs. Kitchen, storage, etc take up a lot of room. Think carefully about your sizing and what you actually need.

Visibility is obvious, however, think really carefully about it. You have found this great location, but how visible is it. Is it on a corner, is it in the middle of the block, can you see it when driving, can people see it when they walk past, etc. Be honest with yourself and ask other vendors in the area what business is like. Get separate people to go look at the site.

Finally, Location, Location, Location. Location makes all the difference. Always go for the best location which attracts your target demographic.

You are my favorite type of client. You both were very active in the site selection process .

Many of the sites we considered you found online or researching different neighborhoods. Once you found something that looked promising, I would gather the details, we would discuss and start negotiations if the sites met your criteria. Many tenants think they can access everything online and they don’t need representation. I agree that you can access 80% of the available properties on your own. How did working with a broker help you through the process?

A good broker we think acts more like a mentor. The internet has made it easier to find available locations. However, working with a broker gives your access to someone who has experience in seeing different food concepts and how they are applied to different sites. We had our broker, Mark, who was a great sounding board and brought things to our attention that perhaps we wouldn’t otherwise have thought of. Having Mark as our broker helped us immensely through the process.

You have a very small store.

How did you determine what size space you needed for your business and what suggestions do you have for others to determine how much space they need. If you had to do it over would you consult with a kitchen designer first to determine what equipment you need and the ideal kitchen layout?

Our food concept is “fresh & fast” and “grab and go”. We offer a streamlined menu and a simple product offering. When selecting space size we wanted something small and compact. We didn’t want to be paying for extra space which we did not need. Before you start a restaurant you need to understand your size needs. A good way to understand this is to calculate your sales per sq ft. Our goal was maximum size utilization and sales per square foot. For seating restaurants this is particular important because your sales are limited by your covers which are limited by your table and chair area. Remember kitchen space or storage contributes no sales.

Now let’s dive into the details. First, I want to commend you for doing everything right. You both have a legal background and are more capable to negotiate a lease than 99% of first time restaurant operators.

In addition to working with a restaurant real estate advisor to negotiate the deal, you retained an experienced attorney that specialized in commercial lease agreements. I wanted to mention this because I see so many tenants get into trouble trying to save a few thousand dollars on proper legal representation.

Although you did everything right, you still ran into some issues getting the store opened on schedule.

Let’s discuss lease terms. We negotiated hard for certain lease terms, but in the end may not have achieved the exact terms we wanted for certain items. Rent Commencement was one of the terms. Let’s discuss why this is so important and how you were impacted or might have been impacted by permitting delays.

Rent Commencement is vital. It is also one of the harder clauses to negotiate for because you cannot account for what delays you are going to be facing. Rent Commencement serves to resolve Landlords’ concerns that: (1) you will be able to get all your permits and actually start your business; and (2) that they can start collecting their rent by a defined date. If you get your Rent Commencement wrong you may be faced with having to pay rent before you open. From this perspective, being able to have as much of an understanding of your build out and permit timings is essential to a tenant’s negotiating position. Unfortunately, permit and build out times are very uncertain, especially in Los Angeles.

Landlords and lawyers will often try to complicate the Rent Commencement language to the point where the parties are happy, but in reality the clause makes no sense when you try to apply it. Language becomes confused with start dates, end dates, contingent time periods and what ifs subjected to permits.

The key to rent commencement is to keep it as simple as possible. Set a hard and fast date for when rent will commencement. Don’t subject it to approvals or permits. This will only confuse matters and put you at conflict with your landlord when there are delays.

Whatever the clause says, keep your landlord updated and involved in the timelines. If there are delays outside of your control let them know why and explain why this is not your fault. Landlords most of the time want to know they are not going to be left with a half completed project and that they will be paid rent, even if it is a bit later.

If your landlord does not agree to this, then build into your contract clauses which allow for both parties to agree to a nominal rent for the period that you have not opened and the rent commencement has already passed.

Whatever you do, keep the clause simple!

I agree your clause was confusing. If your rent commencement date is calculated based on clear dates and milestones you can avoid the confusion and still protect yourself. For example, rent shall commence 90 days from receipt of approved plans to start construction, but in no event later than December 31, 2017.

Let’s discuss your experience with the permitting process.

The permit process will be the single biggest challenge you face. We planned on a 3 month build out. It took 10 months! This is because of delays and having to deal with two separate bodies for zoning/planning (Santa Monica) and separately for health department (LA County). Our plan checkers changed jobs during the process which meant we had to start fresh with a new planner. We had to have separate inspections for plumbing and to show that we were not cooking any hot foods so didn’t need grease traps or vents.

An architect or plan expeditor is essential to making this process as smooth as possible. However, you need to become familiar with the rules and regulations yourself. Understand what the requirements are and be as involved in the process as possible. Being able to speak directly to a plan checker or inspector yourself and being involved in the process means you have more control and knowledge.

 Take a ways.
  • Don’t underestimate the time needed find a location, negotiate a lease or purchase and permit and build your restaurant.
  • Be prepared with business plan, financial statements and proof of funds.
  • Work with specialists that can guide you through site selection, lease negotiations, permitting and construction.
  • Have a clear understanding of the infrastructure and city requirements for your concept including how much space you need for back of the house operations, storage and selling square footage.
  • Get a few opinions regarding visibility, access and convenience for the sites you are considering.

Michael Philippou & Victoria Philippou are the Co-Founders of Frozen Fruit Co. Frozen Fruit Co makes FroFru, a revolutionary vegan friendly soft serve made just from fruit and natural fruit sugars. That’s It. That’s FroFru. Find them at 729 Montana Ave, Ste 2, Santa Monica, 90403, online at www.frozenfruitco.com or order online in the Los Angeles area through GrubHub, Postmates or Doordash.

The post Frozen Fruit Co. How Two Attorneys from London Launched a New Food Category. appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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Interview with Restaurant Technology Consultant Stephen Ronnow What services does a technology consultant provide to restaurateurs?

It can be an array of things. One of my solutions is a “smart management assistant” that acts like a general manager in the cloud. The “GM in the cloud” provides insights to the restaurant that can increase revenue, enhance the guest experience and save time for operators.

What is the minimum annual sales for a restaurant that benefit from your services and see a return on investment.

The minimum sales on a per unit basis would be $400,000 and above. We service restaurants and bars ranging from independent operators to national chains.

What are some of the tools you provide?

The tools can be broad. However, as a starting point, think of Google or Amazon and how they track customer spending/habits. We provide similar tools for restaurants.

We begin by tracking customer spending, what people are buying, how often are they buying and how much are they spending. Our tools allow the restaurant operator to segment guests by different patterns and determine which types of guests they want to attract more of based on trends.

For example, the restaurateur may determine that he/she wants to target guests that consume a certain type of beer or order a specific food item.

Our social media tools give instant access to reviews online and allow operators to reply quickly from one portal. We provide the ability to monitor marketing campaigns over time to determine return on investment to know whether a specific event or promotion drives repeat customers over time.

We’ve been able to revolutionize menu engineering by showing restaurants which menu items do the best job of turning new guests into regulars and which bring regulars in the most frequently. This allows the restaurateur to sell strategic items to build and drive repeat business. We do this because, today, operators are limited to seeing which items sell and don’t sell, and there is no other technology that lets you to track which items actually bring customers back.

One of our strongest tools is similar to Siri on the iPhone, but is strictly for restaurants.

This tool has two modes: 1. Alerts and 2. Answers to questions made by voice/text. The alerts can range from reviews, to VIP diners sitting down, to possible fraud. Questions answered can range from sales to food questions to information on servers.

Using artificial intelligence, the “GM in the cloud” can determine answers to questions based on the existing data gathered in the different data streams in the restaurant. There is no custom programming or work required from the operator. Everything is tracked behind the scenes.

What are some examples of how your clients use some of these tools?

One example would be a brew pub that spiked revenue +8% over 6 months with our menu optimization. They found out which beers brought new guests back 45% of the time instead of their average, 31%, and then pushed those beers and created specials. For them this translated into $1000-$2000 dollars a day they had been missing out on.

Another example would be the 7 location burger chain owner who lives by his new App that shows him all his locations’ performance in real time and alerts him to any issues so he can relax a bit more.

Who are your typical clients?

We currently work with 8,200 restaurants nationwide, including local and national brands.

Can you provide some sample results you have achieved for your clients?

Results differ per restaurant group.
One client achieved a $92,000 revenue increase in one year.

Another client with one location saw a $37,000 in increased revenue from using the menu optimization specifically.

A Midwest client with multiple locations saw a $288,000 increase over the course of one year, tweaking their marketing strategy based on the new and regular guest insights.

One client increased revenue by $13,000 just by coaching servers on how to emulate their best performers which the tools revealed.

What are the costs for your services?

All of the tools and products are provided on a monthly subscription service. There is no charge for my consultation. Typically we will review the clients existing operations and demo the different tools to determine which option would be best based on their objectives. We knock out unnecessary expenses in the process so packages run $0 – $250 per month.

What is the onboarding process and are there any additional fees for on boarding and set-up?

There is very little work on client side. There is a 10 minute kick off call and a 15 minute call to back office managers for some remote software installation.

The heavy lifting happens on our end. Some restaurants can be up and running in a week. Larger multi store roll-outs can take a month or two. There are no set up or additional fees.

What questions should a restaurateur ask when considering technology or your services?

What am I using today for technology? How do I use my current technology? Where am I wasting time or opportunity? Each restaurant has their own process. What are you focused on? Menu, servers, building loyalty?

From there they would ask how the consultant streamlines their processes and improve operations.

One last question. What is the biggest hurdle for restaurateurs and technology?

Restaurateurs don’t have time. They also aren’t sure how something new is actually going to help them. It’s no coincidence then that that’s the first challenge we solve by making everything easy, fast, and extremely relevant.

Ultimately, it’s about having the information at their fingertips for when they need it.

What is the best way to reach you if readers would like to learn more and request a free consultation/demo?

Name: Stephen Ronnow
Phone: 714-928-4257
Email: Stephen.ronnow@gmail.com

The post Maximizing Profits with Restaurant Technology appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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How to Choose a Restaurant POS System

Guest Post by Sara Sugar

Making the decision that your restaurant is ready for a POS system can be a hard enough call to make. Add the additional pressure of having to choose the actual system, and it’s no wonder you clicked on this headline. Though not an easy task, deciding which restaurant POS system to implement at your business is one of the most important decisions you will make over the lifetime of your restaurant. Choosing a quality system will not only allow you to quickly and efficiently accept transactions at the point of sale, but it will also improve inventory management, enhance customer marketing, and provider access to sales performance insights for your business.

But since you’ve already made the decision to invest in the future of your business with a POS system, let’s take a few moments to discuss where you go from here.

Decide what your restaurant needs.

It’s easy to know what you don’t want as a restaurateur. You know you’re not looking for expensive, outdated, or complicated. But often, knowing the features and capabilities that your business needs isn’t so straightforward. Since choosing a restaurant POS system is vital to the success and longevity of your business, taking the time to observe and understand the features your business needs is imperative. That’s why it’s important to take the time you need to reacquaint yourself with your business. If you’re the decision maker, but not necessarily the person out on the floor taking orders day in and day out, talk to your servers and manager and find out what they need to make their lives easier. You might go into the conversation thinking that your employees already have all they need to take orders and successfully serve up impeccable customer service. And that might be the case. But you might also leave the conversation realizing that there are restaurant POS features that your staff desperately needs. Either way, you’ll learn more about your business and will be able to make a more informed decision.

Do your research and narrow the field.

Just as no two people are the same, so goes the world of small businesses and restaurants. As nice as it would be to be able to check off half a dozen boxes and then have a POS system handed to you, unfortunately, that’s just not how it works. The good news, however, is that you aren’t alone. According to a recent study, 72 percent of single-location restaurant owners are currently looking to adopt a restaurant POS system for their business. What that means is that though no two businesses are alike, there are a ton of POS-related resources at your disposal to help ease the burden of this decision.

As we recommend above, knowing what your business needs and then doing the research to see what systems can fill those needs is a crucial step in choosing a provider. Though cloud-based POS systems are relatively new to the restaurant industry (within the last decade or so), their popularity has taken off in recent years. That means that there are more than enough options out there for each business to find their match.

Talk to those who have been in your shoes.

In the process of vetting potential restaurant POS systems for your business, you’ll most likely talk to POS specialists from each provider. But in addition to chatting with those from the actual company, you’ll also want to speak with restaurateurs that have firsthand experience with both the software and hardware. This is also a good way to test out the integrity of the company you potentially might work with. Ask the POS provider in question to give you a list of similar businesses or restaurants for you to reach out to and interview about their experience. If the POS provider can’t come up with a list, say one isn’t available or are hesitant in any way, this is a definite red flag. A quality POS system should want to share the positive experiences of other restaurateurs with you, should easily be able to direct you to case studies on their website, and should be forthcoming with any information you request from them.

Whether you are a first-time restaurateur opening your inaugural restaurant, or a seasoned entrepreneur expanding your empire, choosing a restaurant POS system will not be an easy call. Taking the time, however, to evaluate your business, discuss your needs with your staff, and research the systems available to you, will set you up with a strong foundation for making an educated decision.

About the Author

Sara Sugar is ShopKeep point of sale’s in-house Content Marketing Specialist. Sara uses her distinguished journalism background to boil down topics like POS system technology, payments, and payment security for small business owners.

About ShopKeep

Everything ShopKeep does supports growing and independent businesses. Founded by a successful business owner, ShopKeep provides an intuitive, secure, iPad point-of-sale system with POS software that empowers merchants to run smarter businesses by optimizing staffing, regulating inventory and accessing sales reports and customer information on one seamless, cloud-based platform. With more than 23,000 customers, ShopKeep’s award-winning customer care team is available to help 24/7 and provide a robust support network for growing business owners. A member of Apple’s Mobile Partnership Program, ShopKeep is headquartered in New York, with offices in Portland, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Belfast.

The post Restaurant POS System-How to Choose the Right POS System appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/xBXF9pr6LQo

More often than never people get tired of the same old looks of the places they go to eat, grab some drinks or listen to gigs. Owning a restaurant is a big responsibility, especially the part where you have to learn to listen to your guts and realize when is the right time for a change.

If you are looking to make a change to your restaurants interior you’ve come to the right place. Scroll through to learn simple tips and tricks that will help you with a successful restaurant remodel and give it a fresh new look.

Listen to suggestions and comments, gather opinions

The best way to start the whole renovation process is to find out what your customers have to say because they are the most valuable resource of information. Ask for their opinion and gather information through social media. It will help you improve the interior in the most functional way.

Pay attention to comments regarding the atmosphere in the restaurant because if you like something it doesn’t mean that everybody else does too. Some people, for example, don’t feel comfortable eating in the dim light, or if the color of the walls is just too much (as in all walls painted royal blue). Make small notes, compare and contrast opinions, include family and friends and think about the way to intertwine and include most of the suggestions during the renovation.

Also, you can request some feedback through comment cards, email campaigns, suggestion boxes, etc. to learn about your customers’ thoughts of your restaurants interior.

Replace the flooring

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/kba8ZLNwL-8

If you’re all about the rustic meets vintage look and you want your restaurant to keep that shabby interior style, then simply let the floors get weathered and worn out naturally. That is the only exception (when it comes to the look of the floors) that is acceptable in a restaurant. In any other case, you should replace worn out flooring every couple of years and pay attention to the maintenance so that they keep that fresh, new look for as long as it is possible. Choose materials that are low maintenance and patterned/textured to hide the accidental spills and stains easier. Choose natural cleft slate or acrylic-infused engineered hardwood floors that are long-lasting and suit almost every interior design.

Install various lights to achieve the perfect atmosphere

One of the essential elements that create a specific vibe in a restaurant that attracts more customers is proper lighting. You should always do your lighting installation in layers so that you have more control of the light in different parts of a day. Invest in quality curtains, awnings, and blinds to keep the atmosphere intimate and hidden away from the curious eyes.

Australian based interior designers explain that commercial blinds in Sydney gain popularity in the past couple of years and that nowadays it is almost unimaginable to design the interior of any commercial building without installing blinds, curtains or awnings since they help create the atmosphere.

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/2R5QtSqJtdY

Play with various lights – spot lights and floor lights to define the space, hang pendants above tables for more intimate atmosphere, use accent lights to highlight artworks, the bar or anything you want to emphasize. Make sure that you can control the brightness of each light so that you can create a just perfect atmosphere in the restaurant.

Give your exterior a fresh new look

Refresh the exterior to make your restaurant more noticeable and appealing. The exterior is the first thing that actually attracts guests and the first thing that will draw them to enter and try out something new. That first impression is what leaves a lasting impact and it affects the way people perceive your brand. That is why you want the exterior to represent your restaurant and the quality of food and service – to look fresh, new and compatible with the updated interior.

Think about the colors and their effect

Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/FL7auik_2wU

The color of the facade is very important. You want something that will make your restaurant stand out among many others and yet nothing too extravagant or eccentric. The color should increase your brand recognition so choose wisely and avoid repainting the facade very often because it will make customers confused. Match the color of the exterior with your brand color or the dominant color from the indoors. You should avoid coloring the complete facade in one shade, it is better to add simple colorful details or intertwine brand colors using same shade chairs, tables, decorative items or flowers, etc.).

At the end

Follow these simple tips and tricks to make a perfect plan for the renovation process. Keep in mind that it is important to gather the opinions, suggestions, critics, comments and build your plan from there. Consult with experts when it comes to light installation, the functionality of layout, and all the other setups to find the most functional way to renovate the place.

Author Bio:

Hannah Thomas is an expert in business innovation and management with a love for writing. She is always eager to learn new things and to share the knowledge she acquired along the way.

The post 5 Renovation Tips for a Successful Restaurant Remodel appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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Photo from Unsplash

Traditional restaurants are not the earth’s best friends. Your typical café or eatery uses vast amounts of energy and water and produces masses of garbage and food waste and cannot earn the label of “eco-friendly” without some good planning and conscious work.

However, with the rise of more eco-conscious generations, diners are becoming increasingly selective about where and what they eat. If you’re a restaurant owner, it’s worth thinking twice about the way you’re running your business. Since we reckon you already are keen to make a change if you’re reading this article, we’ve gathered the best tips to help you change the way you run your restaurant for the better.

Serve organic produce

For restaurant owners, environmental awareness starts with the ingredients themselves. An obvious first option is buy organic products, but you should also think about where you’re sourcing your organics from.

Visitors to your restaurant will invariably be more enthusiastic about locally-produced organics than those transported from afar via emission-producing vehicles. This means building trust and positive working relationships with the farmers and producers close to you to sort out seasonal contracts.

Since consumer demand for organic and locally-produced food is only increasing, you will likely earn back the extra money that you spend on organically-fed or organically-grown ingredients.

Revise the menu

The vegetarian and vegan movements are gaining real force with diners of all shapes and sizes – so even if you’re intent on keeping your meat and dairy options on the menu, make sure you at least have a section of your menu dedicated to plant-based options. Crafting healthy, delicious vegetable-based dishes is the easiest way to ensure you’re following through with your goal to support sustainable, local produce.

Photo from Pxhere

Make or produce as much as you can in-house

Even better than buying local is growing your own fruit and veg. Not only will you be able to claim your own ingredients for the restaurant, but establishments with gardens are a massive pull for diners, especially if you work hard to make the green spaces a feature for diners to enjoy.

If you’re more pressed for space, but a rooftop garden is a possibility, take that opportunity up. Plus, composting food waste on-site is made much easier with the help of a garden.

Reduce the packaging

Particularly for coffee joints and takeaway-heavy restaurants, packaging is the biggest environmental menace. Seek a solution by switching from materials like Styrofoam and plastic – which are resistant to degradation – and instead seek out recycled paper packaging. More and more suppliers are embracing environmentally friendly packaging, and your customers will be thankful to see the recycle logo on the bottom of the cup or box.

There are other ways to save paper, too: digitise reservations and customer information, get rid of paper billing, and pay your own bills for the restaurant online.

Buy Environmentally friendly furniture

Environmentally friendly extends all the way to the tables and chairs which furnish your floor space. Demonstrate your environmental consciousness by choosing furniture with a Forest Stewardship Council certification or the equivalent so your diners can know they’re not contributing to uncontrolled deforestation by eating under your roof.

Save water

In kitchens and bathrooms, install motion-sensor taps or flow restrictors which will ensure that staff and customers can only use a set amount of water. When you buy dishwashers, look for the best Energy-Star rated options that you can afford, and buy dual-flush toilets. These choices will require some initial investment but will definitely save you money in the long run!

Flaunt your eco-friendliness

And lastly – show off your eco-friendly efforts! The most effective way to spread the bug is to advertise and talk about it. You could even go all-out to “greenify” your restaurant by hosting in-house events themed on Earth Day or by offering discounts to café customers who bring their own reusable mugs.

Cloe Matheson is a freelance writer from New Zealand who believes that one of her most important responsibilities is caring for the environment.

Her two favourite hobbies are inventing healthy meal recipes and tending to her beloved garden. You can read more of Cloe’s inspiring articles on Tumblr.

The post How to Make Your Restaurant Sustainable & Environmentally Friendly appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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What has made Groupon the most popular coupon company in the world?

It is simple – it has hit on a winning formula. People love discounts, and businesses love affordable advertising solutions.


offers a bit of both.

Is it any wonder then that over 90,000 Groupon deals are sold on a daily basis? When times are tough, people are loath to cut back on the little luxuries that make life a lot more fun. After all, if you are working just to pay off bills, it is not all that interesting, is it?

But what if those luxuries got a little easier to afford? Like the facial that you could get at 50% off, for example? Or the buy one get one free deal at your favorite restaurant?

Here’s a fun fact for you – Groupon users have eaten close to 60 million pieces of pizza in total. Want some more interesting facts? Check out the great infographic below.

It works well for the businesses advertising on the service as well. They get access to a wide range of customers at a relatively reasonable cost. They are required to offer a substantial discount – at least 40% or more – and they have to give Groupon a cut.

However, if you consider the cost of print media and other forms of advertising, it is a small price to pay. And, a certain number of deals must be sold for it to go through, so you know that it will be shared.

Best of all for the business, though, is that it is only paying for results. If no one buys the deal, it doesn’t pay a cent. In fact, until someone comes in to redeem voucher, it does not have to do anything more.

It’s a win-win for businesses and clients.

Karthik Reddy, Community Manager at Webmastersjury, is the author of India’s Number 1 travel blog. Boasting an MBA in computer science, he once decided to get away from the office desk life and take a breathtaking journey around the world. He is eager to use the power of the global network to inspire others. A passionate traveler and photography enthusiast, he aspires to share his experiences and help people see the world through his lens.

The post Groupon – The Win-Win Solution appeared first on Restaurant Real Estate Advisors.

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