Food for Thought: How to Find Your Next Restaurant Space

Written By: Jen Chinburg

Mediocre restaurant space isn’t too difficult to come by, but GREAT restaurant space can be harder to locate. So, the secret becomes knowing what to look for in a Class A restaurant space and why. To help, consider the following:

Be Open to Different Locations

Every restaurateur dreams of the perfect location, but it will be hard to find the right restaurant retail space if you don’t keep an open mind. The more spaces you visit, the more likely you are to find the one suited to your project. Try to ditch the preconceived notions about certain areas, streets, and buildings, and make the effort to go inside as many spaces as possible to truly know your choices – it’s amazing what you might stumble upon.

For instance, did you know that Chinburg Properties is home to four unique New Hampshire mills in Newmarket, Dover, and Somersworth—and they are all capable of supporting everything from a basic baker’s kitchen to a full-service restaurant?

Know the Lay of the Land

Parking, visibility, and accessibility are all key to making your restaurant space thrive. Try to choose restaurant retail space that is conveniently located and easy to find. Good signage visibility is key. Some of your best potential customers are those who pass your location on a regular basis. Make sure they know you are there and that they are reminded every time they walk or drive by.

Just the same, identify your target audience and take the time to know if a location you like happens to be in the vicinity of your future clientele. Maybe you have a high-end steak house and seek a Class A restaurant space, but does this space have high-end professionals working or living in the area? Try sitting outside a few spots you’re considering and make note of who’s passing by.

This is also a good time to identify the competitive landscape. Maybe the audience you desire does exist near the restaurant space you prefer, but are too many nearby businesses already offering similar menus to yours? You don’t want to be just another face (or pizza) in the crowd. But likewise, you might want to avoid being too different altogether. Try to find harmony in your menu, your audience, and your competition – the right balance and overlap in each category is important.

Take for example Chinburg Properties’ Cocheco Mills—complete with a soon to open microbrewery and an already booming bar and grill—or the Washington Street Mills—serving up everything from homegrown jam to pasta to soup—or the Newmarket Mills—home to an ice cream shop and a locally renown charcuterie. While each of these locations has successful restaurants turning out a diversity of food, there is currently still space available for more restaurants to grow and prosper. In these spaces, restaurants appreciate not only the appropriate water pressure and electrical services necessary to run a smooth operation, but also enjoy serving and becoming a part of their mill and town communities, including exposure to first class office spaces, manufacturing facilities, retail owners, artist studio spaces, apartment renters, and all the ensuing foot traffic.

Safety Is an Easy Way to a Successful Start

This one is simple: Choose a location that is up to code and safety compliant – this means fire alarms, wiring, ventilation, sprinklers, handicap accessibility, restroom requirements, elevator inspections, etc. It could be very financially damaging to find out that the space you’ve rented cannot pass a safety inspection, not to mention how this could put a hurt on your reputation in the early going.

Building/Space Management Is Important

Renting restaurant retail space means working with a landlord or management company who oversees your lease. However, this entity will be responsible for more than just monthly rent. Make sure to also know policies related to snow removal, lawn care, heat, maintenance, etc. Finding a credible and reputable property owner can make a world of difference in how you experience a restaurant space rental. If you can, ask other business owners in the same building how they have liked their relationship with the management to date.

For Chinburg Properties, whether a restaurant space is leased in Dover, Newmarket, or Somersworth, this means professionalism, attention to detail, and dedicated staff ready and willing to help tenants get the most out of their investment.

Stick to Your Budget

Whether you seek a Class A restaurant space, Class B, or Class C, it’s incredibly important that you stay within your budget when choosing a restaurant space – you do not want to feel stretched thin to pay rent, not even once. Be realistic in your projections and have a buffer for unforeseen circumstances.

For more information on finding restaurant retail space available in the Seacoast area, contact Chinburg Properties or check out our Commercial Rental Properties’ page. Chinburg boasts a breadth of unique commercial spaces in a variety of beautiful mills, from space as small as 150 square feet to those well over 10,000 square feet – and we have over 200 vibrant businesses already operating within. Come join us!