There are numerous places to start looking if you want to buy an established restaurant or bar, if you want to lease premises or if you want to start entirely from scratch. Trawling the internet, newspapers and estate agents will turn up many opportunities, from ‘bijou wine bar & restaurant for sale’ to ‘large restaurant providing excellent investment opportunity’ – but where do you start?
Before you even start to look you should really visit your bank and see what you can comfortably afford. Also look at other areas in which you have money for investment and add this to your budget. Every single area regarding finance needs to be looked at, and also what turnover you will expect to make from any bar or restaurant purchase. You will be in a much better position to start searching for the ideal property once you have all the finances sorted out.
A business plan is essential. You need to know what you want from your business before you start putting money into it. If you don’t plan down to the last detail then you are effectively throwing your money away. There are many areas to consider when buying a bar, such as cost control procedures, health & safety, HACCP procedures if you will be serving food and many other management considerations. Look into all these areas to see what you will need and how it applies to your business plan.
Once you know what you want, scour as many adverts as you can by looking on the internet at estate agent website's that feature properties in your desired location. You will be surprised at the wonderful properties that can be found if you really look into it in depth. Also make sure you get the property pages of the local and national press – all the up-to-date commercial properties will be listed, you will start to get a good idea of what is currently on the market and also see what is in your price range.
Location is crucial when running a restaurant or bar, regardless of whether you are in a city centre or rural setting. Passing traffic, proximity to other venues, office workers and so many other areas are important to consider when deciding on the clientele you are targeting. Are you just happy with a ‘passing trade’ or do you want to be filled to the rafters night after night? This will all depend on your location.
A good estate agent will be able to point you in the right direction. Dan O’Heaslip of Heaslips Property Partners in Galway says there are so many areas to take into consideration. If you have a property in mind you still need to do your homework and look at footfall, car parking, access, passing trade and much more. The pub trade has had to move with the times. Dick Ahlstrom, in the Irish Times, reports that well located pubs that are easy to get to have seen little decline in sales since the smoking ban. Definitely something worth keeping in mind.
It is a fact of life that the majority of pubs are serving food, this is partly due to the revenue generated from food sales which can hugely increase the takings of a bar. If you are looking to serve food there is much more to be taken into consideration, including if you will be bringing in a head chef to take care of the entire food operation and report to you, or will you rent out your kitchens to an independent company and take a monthly rent. These are very different options, which provide a very different return on your investment and also require careful planning – see Business Plan. It is safe to say that is you are buying a bar that will serve food, or a restaurant, then you really need to be aware of all the Health & Safety procedures associated with providing food on your premises. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) procedures are essential and need to be implemented immediately. Ensure you read up on all the areas you need before jumping into a new venture.
If you see a property you are interested in, call up the estate agents involved and make an appointment to view the property. Make sure you have a list of all the essentials you need, things you are willing to compromise on, and additional extras that would be nice but not essential. Also, take a digital camera with you (but always ask the vendor if it’s OK to take photo’s before you do), as it’s so easy to forget what something looked like when you get home. And of course, a tape measure is indispensable.
It is important to seek the advice of a professional or speak to someone you trust who has already been through the process of buying a bar or restaurant as they will be able to advise you on the pitfalls to avoid. Just remember, buying a business requires extensive planning, much more than is possible to detail here, and therefore this article is only intended as a guide to help assist you in the first days of making your decision to buy a bar or restaurant. Make sure you speak to an expert once you have made the decision to purchase and you know what you are looking for. Happy hunting!
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