Location, location, location: insider tips to find the best spot for your food business

As a creative partner to food and drink entrepreneurs, Faber’s founder Tony Matters is all too aware of how essential location is to a venue’s success. Here he discusses how to decide when a high footfall, high-rent spot is the answer and when can you stray from the beaten track into less obvious places…

As with most things in life, business success is the perfect storm of internal and external factors. And while there’s no magic formula, it’s important to answer some essential questions when considering your restaurant location. 

Where can your budget take you?

Yes, the most desirable locations have higher rents for a reason—but if your budget can’t stretch to your ‘perfect’ spot you'll have to be more creative. Remember, things can change fast in a city—that run-down street can morph into the latest up-and-coming place in 12 months. Judging which area is going to boom is of course a bit of a lottery. But good questions to ask are about nearby transport links, surrounding facilities, and if the area remains a bit bleak for a considerable distance or if it’s on the fringes of somewhere more attractive. Do you know about any upcoming regeneration plans? Or do you have a hunch that the area is ripe for investment? 

When exciting new venues open in an area this can improve its appearance and increase footfall.  But it obviously carries a risk being one of the first to take this chance. Are there any other businesses that have applied to trade in the area? And if so, what are they?

It's important to note that you need to be offering something different to get people to these areas. And this is an approach that works outside of cities as well. People are prepared to travel for the quality of a Michelin-starred restaurant and it's not unusual for isolated rural pubs to morph into renowned eateries. Piquing people’s interest with an unusual menu or venue can also get diners to travel somewhere off the beaten track. Remember though, parking is clearly more important in a 'destination' restaurant away from the city centre. 

London in the Sky. Image Source: The London Economic

As I always emphasise, people want to spend on experiences. And there are some truly unique food venues that they're prepared to travel to. This can vary from eating while suspended in the air (London in the Sky), to dining in a cave (The Grotto, Thailand) or right at the foot of a waterfall (The Labassin Waterfall Restaurant, Philippines). And did you know that one of the top hospitality trends at the moment is the speakeasy? These small bars hidden in unusual locations are really capturing people’s imaginations. In fact, the winner of the World’s 50 Best Bars is the Paradiso speakeasy which lies behind a fridge door at the back of a pastrami shop in Barcelona! Maybe you could consider joining forces with an established business in this way? 

Paradiso Speakeasy. Image Source: MT Magazine

Do you need a high footfall?

Another important factor you need to consider is if your venue will rely on high footfall. If passing trade will form a major part of your business (often the case for casual, spontaneous dining) you’re likely to struggle in a location with low footfall. But if you're offering something innovative you may be able to generate enough interest to venture out of the high-rent zones and draw diners to you. Remember though that creating the right buzz on social media and in the press is even more important if you're in a less frequented and visible location. And it might be worth trialling your concept as a pop-up venue to get a feel for whether it could work permanently… 

What do you know about the area?

What is the business turnover like in your potential location? A high rate is worth investigating further. For example, what types of businesses have failed there and why? Also, what businesses currently exist in the area? Are they similar to yours? Direct competitors? Or do they offer a complimentary service? Could you meet demand for post-drinks munchies or coffee on the way to work, for example? 

Have you done your legal homework?

Finally, it’s essential to do your research. You could fill several libraries with business and property laws, so it’s very important to understand the implications when choosing a location (there are different laws regarding residential and business zones for example). The same caution is needed when choosing a quirky venue for your restaurant, you need to have a good understanding of any barriers or costs associated with a change of use. And it’s definitely worth getting a professional opinion to make sure you haven't missed any potential pitfalls. 

As discussed, there’s no textbook answer to finding the perfect business location—but hopefully I’ve got you thinking about how to scope out the best possible spot for your venture. And if you want to discuss how Faber can help turn your ideas into reality, don't hesitate to get in touch by calling  0121 796 2070 or emailing info@faber.design.

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Header Image: Market House, Cambridge. By Faber

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