When opening a new restaurant, finding the right location is the first step. In fact, location can make or break its success, regardless of how good the food is. But what makes for a good restaurant locale?
Above all else, your location must be accessible and visible. Find a neighborhood which can support your business organically, without marketing or promotional efforts. Restaurants near residential neighborhoods can build a good base of regular customers. But restaurants located in downtown or business districts will also have lunch as well as nighttime diners. Remember that the storefront should be visible from both the street and google maps. However, avoid areas with a high crime rate as this might make diners uncomfortable.
Don’t forget to factor in parking as a key element when choosing your location. Having to drive around and around to look for parking will frustrate your diners and chances are, they would abandon your restaurant to opt for one near a parking lot. Ideally, your venue would have its own parking lot. If not, a lot nearby would also add to the convenience factor for customers.
As with all businesses, some competition is healthy but if there are numerous restaurants with the same concept in the area, over saturation might be a problem. Look for neighborhoods with complimentary businesses such as theaters, or retail shops. Maybe take a day to explore the area to see if those businesses are thriving.
If you’re looking at a space that was previously home to a foodservice business, find out the reason for it’s closure. Look into the location’s history as you don’t want to be in a space with a string of failed restaurants before you. There may be inherent flaws in the location such as poor ventilation or lack of parking.
Size is also an important factor to consider as well. If you’re primarily doing take-out, then a few stools and tables may suffice. But sit down dining requires much more planning. Don’t forget to calculate whether your dining room capacity is enough to support your business. Remember that other than the dining area, restaurants also need to have a good size kitchen for your refrigerator, range, washing and prep areas.
Finally, after deciding on a great neighborhood and finding the perfect location, make sure the building is up to code. This includes proper wiring, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, handicap-accessible doors, restrooms and ramps. If you would like to know more about finding the right location for your restaurant, contact Restaurant Design Concepts. We are Northern California’s only restaurant architecture and design firm under one roof.