There are a number of factors that go into choosing the best location for your restaurant, from the type of customers you hope to attract to competition in the area to the price per square foot for a particular area. Performing a location analysis is an important step in drafting a restaurant business plan. By carefully considering the market conditions where you are considering doing business, you can choose a location that will help you achieve your goals as a restaurateur.
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Why Is Location So Important for a Restaurant?
When choosing a location for your restaurant, you may be tempted to just find a good deal or a space that is already set up for food service. Before doing so, however, you should spend some time analyzing whether that particular location makes sense for you. A careful restaurant location strategy can optimize profits while increasing the long-term viability of your restaurant.
The post will discuss a restaurant location strategy when you have already decided on a community or relatively small geographic area. There are some different factors that go into choosing where to open a restaurant anywhere in the United States. For example, if you are deciding whether to open a restaurant in San Francisco or Honolulu, then certain factors (like labor costs and supply chain issues) will be more critical than if you were deciding between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Your restaurant’s location within a community can help with getting patrons to visit, and with retaining customers. It can also affect things like the number of seats you’ll have available and the size of your kitchen. A great location can help your restaurant succeed – while a bad location can mean trouble for your bottom line.
As discussed in greater detail below, there are a number of factors that you should consider when performing a restaurant location analysis. You can perform this evaluation yourself, or hire a marketing firm to help you do it.
Restaurant Location Strategy: Factors to Consider
Below, we break down some of the items that you should consider when deciding where to “set up shop.” Depending on your unique situation, you may add other factors to the list.
Demographics can include many factors, including age, gender, relationship/family status, average income, and spending habits. For example, if your goal is to open a cozy, romantic French restaurant that caters to couples, then that will inform your location choice. Alternatively, if you want to run a more modern eatery that attracts younger people, you will probably choose an entirely different location.
Hammering out your target demographic can help you make a smart decision about location. If your plan is to open a family-friendly restaurant, then it probably doesn’t make sense to rent or buy a smaller space in a busy downtown neighborhood. Conversely, if you want to serve fast casual food to office workers, then choosing that downtown area is probably a great bet.
Accessibility also involves thinking about how your customers will get to your restaurant. If you want a location in a more densely-populated urban area with limited parking, is the space in a walkable location or otherwise accessible via public transportation? If you’re in a more suburban community, is there ample parking? You should also think about traffic patterns – will your customers have to turn across traffic without a light to get to your restaurant?
Again, “visibility” can mean different things based on where your restaurant will be located. If you’re in a busy city neighborhood, then visibility might mean the ability to have a custom awning, sidewalk sign, and/or your name and logo on your windows or doors. If you’re in a rural or suburban area, then visibility may mean the ability to put up a big sign along the road or have a big sign on the building itself.
Keep in mind that there are other ways to increase “visibility,” such as through a great marketing strategy that includes a combination of digital and traditional advertising. This can include anything from having a social media page and website to renting a billboard to running ads to (our favorite) using custom-branded disposable products so that your customers can advertise your business for you.
Labor Costs and Availability
For example, if you want to open up an ice cream shop, you will probably need to hire a fair number of teens and young adults to work during the summer. A wealthier town might present more options for doing business – but the local youth may not need or want to pick up summer jobs. An area with very low unemployment rates overall may also make it difficult to find staff.
Depending on your location, costs may vary between towns or cities. In California, there isn’t one minimum wage – the rate may vary depending on the city and county, with many local governments setting much higher minimum wages. In some cases, you may simply have to pay more because that is what the market demands in a particular community. If this is your situation, then labor costs should be factored into your location analysis.
Real Estate Cost and Availability
Availability can also be an issue in certain areas – particularly bigger cities. If you really want to open up a restaurant near a bustling college campus, then you may not have too many choices when it comes to a commercial space.
Generally, you should avoid picking a location close to restaurants with a similar concept. For example, if you want to open a Chinese restaurant, then you should choose a neighborhood without a Chinese restaurant – or at least a location that isn’t directly beside a competing restaurant.
Location analysis can also help you refine your restaurant concept. If you discover that 30% of the restaurants in your chosen community serve Italian food, then you might revamp your concept.
The Potential for Growth
Of course, you still have to focus on budget – which means that you probably can’t lease or buy a massive space with the hopes that you’ll be successful enough to grow in a few years. But you should still think about whether each location could be modified or expanded to fit your needs.
Other potential factors to consider include:
- The cost and availability of a liquor license, if you plan to serve alcohol;
- How the area is zoned;
- Local health and safety regulations;
- Building amenities; and/or
- What businesses are located nearby.
How Budget Branders Can Help
Budget Branders offers a full line of high-quality custom disposable products, from branded plastic cups to coffee sleeves to napkins. With our products, you can increase your marketing reach with minimal cost and effort. Best of all, all of our products are priced right and sold in quantities that make sense for smaller operations.
Want to learn more? Press the live chat button or fill out our online contact form to request a quote for custom-branded disposable products. You can also hit the chat button to speak to someone about a quote for your business.