Location is everything

Posted on Analysis Jan 2010 - by Tandoori Magazine
Location is everything

It’s one of the most overused terms in the restaurant trade but it always rings true: Location! Location! Location! The old adage amounts to a very simple calculation in that if you don’t have the right location, you don’t have a good business. Not only does that mean that you get just the right spot - it can be quite an eye-opener when you realise how one spot on a street can get all the passing trade yet another, just a few yards up, can get absolutely nothing - you have to ensure that you are noticed from almost all corners. Don’t plonk yourself next to a motorway and ensure you have high visibility.

Corner sites for instance are always well liked because your premises can be seen from different sides and your not hidden or behind any other business. Easy access is also important. Often, locals will decide to visit your restaurant not just because of your cooking and the overall dining experience, but also because your establishment is easy to get to.

So no matter how good your food and service are, if you are not attracting people you will not be in business very long. You must get it right from the outset.

The first thing is to research the area you think might potentially be the right one though it helps if you know what your concept is in the first place. For instance, there is no point opening an upmarket restaurant in an area which is economically deprived and full of greasy spoon cafes. You need to be in an area where you can get trade and have good “footfall”.

Look at what the general make up of the area is, what sort of food places are located there, are there some strong competitors in the locality, the demographic and profile of the locals, is there are a high crime rate there, is there a lot of construction going in the vicinity which can be off-putting and whether your restaurant has parking space or not. Talk to the businesses - and they don’t just have to be restaurateurs - that are already in the area and see how they are doing and what they think of the neighbourhood.

It is often said that some locations are cursed. It’s where you see restaurants come and go yet none of them seem to succeed in business. Is it perhaps that due to a bad reputation the property just attracts a bad vibe and is always sold off cheaply so that it just get shoddy restaurateurs or is it that whoever takes over is woefully inadequate at PR and marketing? Either way, do your home work before you decide to invest in a site and check out why it has or hasn’t worked in its various guises. Try and work with a commercial estate agent. It needs to be someone who not only knows the area well, but also someone who can see the terrain from a restaurateur’s point of view. You can also use the local chamber of commerce to see what useful -information can be gained. Remember though, a spot where there are a lot of people passing by and likely to be a magnet for your restaurant will come at a price.

Some restaurateurs like to think ahead and will want to move into an area which may have huge potential but isn’t quite fully developed. By all accounts, there is a big risk in doing that. You’ll need enough financial resources to sustain your business for some time to come and wait till the area really picks up. Never be complacent about how important it is to have that prime location. Otherwise you will simply start off on the wrong footing.

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