Its a Done Deal
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It's a Done Deal
Prior to becoming restaurateurs, there were a couple of small independent restaurants my husband and I liked to frequent. One was a coffee shop owned by a husband and wife team. It was a comfortable place and we spent many hours observing their operation and analyzing all of the visible aspects of their business. The food was rather simple, it never changed, and after many years of going there, we realized what we loved the most was having a ritual – a place to go where we would relax for an hour and enjoy sitting on the patio. Over the many years of going there, we got to know the owners and many of the patrons. We could see the stress it placed on their marriage – some days it was like being an observer of our own little Peyton Place.

The second restaurant we frequented, was also owned by a husband and wife. It was a very nice Italian restaurant where many of the guests were welcomed by name. When we first started going there, we made it our goal to become one of the “regulars” and also get special recognition when we arrived. Susan and Roberto were always gracious to their guests. But, a funny thing happened on the day we signed the paperwork for our restaurant.

We were in a celebratory mood! We went to the little Italian restaurant to have lunch and tell Susan our news. Instead of being excited, she actually seemed sad or maybe even frightened for us. Of course, we were not dissuaded by her hesitation – we were excited and determined – ready for whatever lay ahead! We had the keys to our new space and much work awaited us. We were hard workers and always loved a challenge – what could go wrong?

I spent close to a year making plans and scouting locations before finding the right spot. I wanted something small that had a great patio – away from traffic or the parking lot. I did not want to take over someone else’s operation – I wanted to create it from scratch and put my own signature on it. With the help of a restaurant broker, I visited several places. The broker is essentially a real estate agent, who has listings of restaurants that are available. Some of the locations were vacant, while others were going concerns.

It was actually a very interesting and rather secretive experience. I had to sign a confidentiality agreement as a condition to work with the broker. In the restaurant business, it is crucial to keep any intentions to sell a restaurant completely secret. For a going venture, it would not be good for patrons or employees to know that the owner has intentions of selling. It may sound a little harsh, but that is the reality.

The spot I finally settled on met all of my conditions. It was small, had a great patio, was an existing restaurant, but not doing well, so closing it and re-establishing my own venture was not going to be a problem. It was located in a nice shopping center, although a little out of the way. However, the condition of the space and the equipment left much, or maybe, everything, to be desired. I made the decision to take over the space basically on my own – my husband never saw the space and trusted me to make the right decisions – this was my project and he was and is forever the most incredibly supportive man. So, the next day, when my dad and I went in to start the clean up – the reality of my new endeavor began to truly sink in.

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