Are you ready to get serious about opening a restaurant? If so, choosing a location is critical. That might entail narrowing down your options to a specific Toronto neighbourhood—but it could also mean rethinking the city where you’re planning to set up shop altogether.
Mid-sized cities like Hamilton, London, and Kitchener have a lot to offer aspiring restauranteurs. Here, we’ll look at some of the benefits of expanding your search for a space outside of Toronto’s boundaries.
There’s no getting around it: commercial real estate can be pricey in Canada’s biggest city. All too often, Torontonians who scrimp and save to open a restaurant wind up renting space the size of a postage stamp. Worse yet, some overlook the major problems with a property simply because they can afford it—then wind up experiencing regret.
That’s why many restauranteurs—including some who have already achieved success in Toronto—are making the move to smaller cities. It’s true that places like Hamilton have become hot destinations for small businesses, and rents and real estate prices have risen accordingly. Even so, they’re a far cry from what you’ll find in most parts of Toronto.
Diners in Toronto have an almost overwhelming number of options. It sometimes seems like there’s a shiny new bistro on every corner, which means many culinary gems get overlooked. Not so in a small-to-mid-sized city, where an incredible restaurant is bound to attract the attention it deserves.
Being one of a handful of exciting new restaurants is very different from blending into a sea of them. It could mean more press in the local paper, and a general buzz of excitement that only a very small percentage of eateries in Toronto enjoy. Cities like Kitchener-Waterloo and London are home to a sizeable population with diverse tastes—yet they’re small enough that local businesses can truly stand out. It’s a recipe for success!
For people who live in small and mid-sized cities, there’s something truly special about local eateries and watering holes. Patrons are devoted to their haunts in a way that’s rare to see in Toronto. They’ll go out of their way to visit them—and bring friends from out of town to check them out. They’ll insist that their local favourite makes the best lasagna, sushi, or roti in the world.
The bottom line? If a sense of community matters to you, you’ll find it in the food scene of a smaller city. Your fans will not only get to know you, they’ll support you in good times and (if need be) tough ones, too.
There’s no doubt that Toronto is a vibrant place. It’s part of the reason so many people move to the city every year. Having said that, some urban dwellers reach a point where they’re ready to move on. The hustle and bustle isn’t as exciting as it once was, and the appeal of finding a place that’s quieter, less expensive, and more picturesque is strong.
If you decide to open your restaurant in a smaller city, you’ll enjoy the slower pace of life and tight-knit sense of community that goes along with it. No longer paying Toronto prices can mean affording more living space, which is ideal if you’re planning to put down roots.
Choosing a restaurant location is a big decision, one that will shape your life for years—or even decades—to come. If you’re trying to decide where to open your eatery, talk to a real estate professional who knows the markets in this part of the country. From your goals to your budget to your lifestyle, the right specialist will be well-equipped to help you find the perfect space.
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