1. Restaurant real estate is a sub-specialty within the commercial real estate sector that requires years of experience to master. One reason is that restaurant leases are far more complex than other commercial leases such as office space or a clothing store. Because restaurant leases are so complicated, it takes years of practical experience and an ongoing education to properly negotiate them. A restaurant real estate specialist is well aware of these complexities and is uniquely qualified to address and manage them successfully.
For example, restaurant leases often include accommodations for high capacity plumbing, gas, electric and HVAC, venting, drainage, garbage disposal, deliveries, permits for public assembly, signage or outdoor seating, to name just a few. In addition, you will need the cooperation of the local community board to recommend you for a liquor license, approve your expansion or any other changes to the property that may affect the quality of life for residents in the immediate vicinity.
2. Of course, you’ll need the right development team – other professionals equally knowledgeable about the special requirements of restaurant owners. Hiring an architect, designer, construction company and attorney who “know the ropes” will save you from making costly mistakes and wasting time – both critical to opening your new location on time and on budget. You may also need the services of an expeditor to help clear up outstanding issues with the building department or apply for required permits. As in sports, the difference between a good team and a winning team is a great coach. A seasoned broker will help you assemble the best team possible and guide you to success.
3. One very important benefit is representation. When a landlord lists a property with a brokerage, that company is, in effect, the landlord’s representative working on behalf of his best interests. On the other hand, your broker acts as a tenant representative advocating for you and your best interests.
Think of it this way, would you want to hire an attorney who is representing the other side in your law suit? Plus, your broker is impartial so you’ll be assured of knowing about all of the properties available. And this is perhaps the best reason of all. In almost all cases, the landlord is responsible for the broker’s commission – so you get the benefit of all that service and knowledge for free.
4. Some tenants try to handle their real estate needs on their own. They may try calling the phone number on the sign posted in front of a building only to find out that the leasing agent, for whatever reason, is in no hurry to return their call. Adding to their frustration is that online and classified searches can be exhausting and fruitless, often turning up paid advertisements with outdated information. A good broker will save you a lot of legwork and endless calls by doing this research for you, thereby allowing you to concentrate on your core business. As an added benefit, a broker familiar with the entire city can suggest options in other areas worthy of your consideration.
5. Because real estate brokers work on straight commission and devote many hours and serious effort to providing you with the best possible service, they may expect you to be loyal to them. Actually, there are many good reasons for doing this. First, they have an intimate knowledge of your specific requirements and can remain on the lookout for the ideal property as soon as it comes on the market. Second, they will consider you a serious prospect and commit the time and energy required to get you the best space, in least amount of time. Third, they will save you time by taking you only to spaces that meet your requirements, and finally, you won’t be taken to the same spaces you already saw with another broker.
Of course there are many other, more subtle, but never the less valuable, insights to be gained from working with a broker that knows your business first hand. Among them are market trends, planned developments, zoning changes, personal contacts and information passed broker-to-broker within the industry. You’ll soon realize that your broker is an invaluable business asset – and the best source of free advice you’ll ever find.
By Marjorie Borell