Selecting a location for your new restaurant is one of the most daunting tasks, I think, a restaurant owner can face in starting a business. You can always get new table cloths, paint the walls a different color, hire a new manager, or even take an unpopular dish off the menu; based on the response and feedback you get from your customers… But when it comes to the physical location of your establishment; this is a decision that you are stuck with, at least for a decent amount of time anyway, so it is very important to look at several factors of the space as it relates specifically to your business.

Please indulge me a short story… There was a wonderful location on the corner of 5th and 3rd streets and for 20 years was the home of a very successful doughnut shop. But alas the owner retired and decided to sell his highly visible location. A few months later it was purchased by a couple from France and based on the visibility of the location, they decided to develop a high-end, white table-cloth bistro/café in its place, based mainly on visibility this is a great location. Unfortunately, 6 months down the line, they closed their doors due to lack of customers. It wasn’t because the food was terrible, it was quite amazing in fact, and it was in my opinion, simply the concept they decided to install in this location….

Going back to my wonderful Russian friends in the earlier post… During our first Skype call, we were discussing their needs as it relates to a desired location. The first point they raised was the aspect of the rent or lease price they would need to pay as a driving factor in site selection. This is of course an important item to consider when selecting a site, but my counsel to them was a bit more all-encompassing… I wanted them to look at the bigger picture, their needs as a business as a whole first, then we can break down and look at each individual part and evaluate it accordingly. The idea being that once we look at all the different aspects of a location we want, we can bring it all together as a package that allows us to quickly and efficiently qualify or disqualify properties as they come our way to review… Perhaps it is just the chef in me that requires this type of efficiency, regardless of the task, but nevertheless I think is an excellent way to make determinations on what is best for the individual business, while at the same time expediting the review process so no time is wasted on properties that don’t meet the their needs.

As any of my current or former clients will tell you, the first thing I always ask for is the menu… The menu drives the design format, the menu drives the layout flow and the menu drives the cooking methods, but for me, we can take a step back with site selection and simply look at the concept. What kind of restaurant am I opening and where do I want to open it? Italian, French, Chinese, Pizza, Gastro-Pub, Michelin Star quality… It is the concept here that I start with. Once I know the concept I wish to implement, I now need to figure out where that concept will be best received.

In my opinion there are no exceptions to this part of site selection… Sure, depending on the type of restaurant you are opening, the criteria for location are different but ultimately, if you land your restaurant in an area that doesn’t want or need it, your odds for success are dramatically diminished.

Next we’ll take a look at a few examples of concepts and how I would decide where I would locate them based strictly on their business concept.

Eat Well my Friends!