Finance & Operations

5 Things to Consider Before Signing Your Restaurant Lease

By Jackie Prange

Restaurant owner taking down a for lease sign at the front door or restaurant

If you’re an up and coming restaurateur ready to sign a leasing agreement, or an established restaurant considering a new location, you’ve come to the right place. While this is a very exciting time for you and your business, don’t make it a stressful one by getting locked into a bad lease agreement.

Here are five things to keep top of mind during your business’s lease signing process.

1. Involve the Experts

While you might be a pro at whipping up fabulous fare, chances are you’re not a seasoned attorney or a contractor. Here are a few people you should consider having in your corner:

  • Broker: A broker works for you, not the landlord. They can help find potential locations and come armed with intel on rental rates and other lease terms in your areas real estate market.
  • Real Estate Attorney: A qualified real estate attorney will comb through your lease for any potential red flags to make sure you’re signing off on the best possible lease terms.
  • General Contractor: A contractor will be tasked with coordinating the construction at your venue. Having one on hand during the lease signing stage will help you hit the ground running when renovations commence.

To make a long story short, the best time to bring experts on board with the ins-and-outs of your lease agreement is as soon as you begin the process. right now.

2. Evaluate Lease & Renewal Options

While some people are drawn to the idea of a long term lease, others may be wary of the potential liabilities if their business doesn’t take off according to plan. Regardless, weigh your options. If a shorter initial lease term sparks your interest more so than a long term lease commitment, look into the possibility of getting intermittent renewal options to accompany your initial lease period. Negotiating will be your saving grace during this process, so leverage the experts in your corner to help you get a lease agreement that best suits you and your business.

3. Take Construction into Consideration

Save yourself a few steps down the road by keeping an open mind to your business’s construction needs during the lease phase. Getting your contractor involved at the beginning will make their job – and yours – a lot easier in the long run. For example, are you taking over a retail space? If so, does it have adequate ventilation? Is there a gas line? Do you want a patio? These sorts of questions will be first in your contractor’s mind, so having them weigh in from the get-go could potentially save you from selecting a location that requires a costly retrofitting.

4. Save the Dates

Don’t run the risk of missing a lease expiration or renewal date. Instead, save yourself any additional stress by entering these important dates into an electronic calendar. Bonus: you can set reminders that will keep you from frantically trying to get your ducks in a row hours before an approaching expiration or renewal date. Want to be extra cautious? Provide your attorney and other business advisors with any important dates, and they’ll be sure you’re notified well in advance.

5. Negotiate Delivery of Premise

Once all of the paperwork is signed and sealed, how will your business’s new space be handed-over? The answer to this question should reside within your leasing agreement, along with other details of the conditions in which your new space should be delivered. That being said, a full description of the landlord’s work and delivery conditions should be negotiated long before you sign on the dotted line. Especially if your new space requires an extensive makeover, it’s crucial you clarify what is and what isn’t included as part of the landlord’s work. Here are some specifics you should have answered: size/capacity of the HVAC system, capacity of the electrical system, and who is responsible for making modifications to fire sprinklers or ADA accessibility.

Do both your time and money a solid by signing a good lease with a great team behind you. Your future restaurant’s success depends on it.

Photo of Jackie Prange
by Jackie Prange

Jackie was a Content Marketing Specialist and Social Media strategist at TouchBistro before moving into business development role. She covered the latest food, dining, and technology trends for the restaurant industry. A lover of all things coffee, Jackie’s hobbies include breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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