Finding the perfect space for your restaurant: our advice

Picking the right location for your restaurant is a crucial step since this will directly influence the number of people visiting your restaurant, and your profits!

Here, we share our tips on how to find the ideal space for your future restaurant.

Choosing your location

First and foremost, it is imperative to choose the right location for your restaurant and to make sure that it is sufficiently visible.

Your premises should be located:

  • On a street with plenty of foot traffic
  • Close to places of interest (cinema, shopping centre, offices, tourist sites, etc.)
  • In an attractive, lively town and neighbourhood.

The location should be well served by public transport, with a car park or parking spaces close by. 

In addition, carefully consider the competitive environment in the catchment area and, in particular, the number of direct competitors. Also take into account the types of customer and their consumption habits, to ensure that they are a good match for your restaurant project.

Good to know:
Street corners are particularly good locations for restaurants!

Calculating the space needed for your restaurant

Another key factor to take into consideration when choosing your restaurant space is size.

The space must be large enough to accommodate:

  • A dining room that can host the desired number of covers 
  • A fully equipped kitchen (with fridges, worktops, etc.) 
  • A cold room and a food storage area 
  • A customer reception area
  • Sanitary facilities for staff, and for customers 
  • Where appropriate, a terrace and/or bar.

For traditional restaurants, a number of ratios are used to calculate the minimum surface area required:

  • 1 to 2 sqm per cover for the dining room;
  • 1 to 1,5 sqm per seat for the kitchen;
  • 0,50 sqm per seat for other areas (bathrooms, cloakrooms, customer reception area, administrative areas, storage areas, etc.).

As you can see, before acquiring your premises it is vital to clearly define your objectives, business model and budget, and to conduct a detailed market study to analyse supply and demand in the envisaged catchment area.

Rent, buy or lease-management: what is the best option for you?

Depending on your project and budget, a number of options are possible when looking to set up a restaurant.

Renting a commercial property

This is the most popular option for restaurant owners. Renting offers a certain flexibility and has the advantage of being more accessible than buying a premises outright.

If you choose to rent, you will need to sign a commercial lease agreement. Concluded by the landlord and tenant, a commercial lease has an average term of nine years, although the tenant can terminate the lease after three or six years. This type of lease may sometimes require paying a lease premium (pas de porte) to the landlord, in addition to rent.

Make sure you negotiate the clauses of this contract carefully (rent, lease premium, security deposit, termination terms, payment of renovation works and improvements, etc.). 

Good to know
To ensure you benefit from favourable conditions in your commercial lease, consider contacting a professional (solicitor, lawyer, etc.) to review the agreement and offer advice.

Buying a commercial property

Buying a commercial property to open a restaurant requires a substantial budget, as well as a bank loan from a lending institution. Generally, restaurant owners who go down this route have already been in the business for several years and have confirmed the viability and profitability of their restaurant project.

Buying a business

If you are planning to take over an existing restaurant, you will need to buy the business from the operator. 

If you want to take over a business from a tenant-operator, you can purchase the leasehold rights to rent the restaurant premises. This involves paying rent and compensation to the former operator.

Good to know
before selecting your premises, you should examine not just the tangible elements (fixtures, fittings and equipment), but the intangible elements, too (clientele, business name, licence, goodwill, etc.).

Lease-management

With a management lease, the owner of the business temporarily transfers the operation of the restaurant in exchange for a fee paid by the lease-manager. This can be a good solution for testing out and validating your project before you commit to buying the business.

Carrying out works on your restaurant premises: what you need to know

If you carry out any works on your restaurant premises, you must make sure you comply with the current safety and accessibility regulations for public buildings. 

In some cases, you will have to obtain authorisation from the local authorities (installing a terrace, modifying the restaurant’s frontage, installing a video surveillance system, etc.).

If you are renting, major works will generally be the landlord’s responsibility. However, you should carefully check the terms of the commercial lease before signing it, to verify the conditions for sharing the cost of the works.

To finance the purchase or rental of your restaurant and any works, several financing solutions are available to you: bank loans, private investors, crowdfunding, microloans, interest-free loans, etc. You should also look into the financial aid available for opening a restaurant.

For more tips, check out our other articles: 

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