5 Reasons to Convert an Existing Restaurant (Instead of Building One Out)

03.4.20 | Buying
Convert an Existing Restaurant

Are you starting the process of opening your restaurant? If so, you have a lot on your plate—especially if you’re building everything out from scratch. For those who’d rather simplify the steps involved (and cut down on costs), buying an existing business may be the right move. Depending on what’s including, going this route could mean not having to worry about your infrastructure, kitchen, liquor license, and more.

If you’re ready to open your restaurant, here are a few reasons to consider converting a business that already exists…

1) An existing liquor license

When it comes to restaurants, there are requirements to meet and approvals to secure. One thing that doesn’t have to be locked down just yet is your liquor license. That said, it sure is a nice thing to have on opening day. Fortunately, if you buy an existing business, you may have the opportunity to take over the previous owner’s license. That could eliminate the pesky waiting period, and (in some cases) even exempt your restaurant from current restrictions—like the cap on your number of patrons.

2) An attractive lease

Leasing a space? You may be able to hold onto favourable terms that might not have made it into your contract today. Lower-than-average rent is the big one. Being charged an amount that was considered reasonable ten years ago puts you in a very good position. As another example, if you’re located in a space alongside other businesses (like a shopping centre), an existing exclusive use clause could keep competition out of the building. It all adds up to less stress, since the deal was done and dusted long before you came on the scene.

3) Built-out kitchen ventilation

No doubt about it: your kitchen’s ventilation and exhaust system is absolutely critical. It can also be a major investment, one that represents a large percentage of your budget. Restauranteurs who are starting fresh can wind up paying tens of thousands of dollars (if not more). By taking over a business with good ventilation, you can drastically cut down on expenses—and get up and running quicker.

4) Power is taken care of

If you’re building out your eatery, you’ll have to know (or learn) a lot about power requirements. How many volts will the building need to be serviced by—and do you know how it should be wired? Can it handle the power necessary for your steamers and ovens? Of course, you should always ensure that the space you choose can handle your specific power needs. That said, buying a business that used to be a restaurant usually means you’ll spend a lot less time thinking about these things.

5) Location, location

Few factors are as important to an eatery’s potential success as its location. Foot traffic, visibility, nearby transit—all of these factors can play a role in making or breaking your business. In all likelihood, some of the most in-demand spots in your area have been occupied by the same eateries for a long time. That said, there are times when restauranteurs can’t (or don’t want) to carry on. When that happens, up-and-comers may have the opportunity to snag a prime location—and an existing infrastructure for their new business.

Ready to find your ideal restaurant space—and start carving out your niche in the Toronto food scene? Reach out to learn how I can help you make the smartest purchase possible!

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