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6 Ways Landlords Can Woo A Popular Restaurant


It used to be restaurants had to convince a landlord to rent to them…odors and traffic, ya know. But the tables have turned, as the 225 guests at Bisnow's first Boston Restaurant Summit learned on Thursday afternoon. What can building owners offer to entice a foodie?

1. Great Relationships


Everything seems to get back to people and relationships; doesn't it? Agreeing to take space in a building can mean a 10-year to 15-year partnership, especially if the restaurant is an anchor—as they increasingly are, says Barbara Lynch Gruppo COO Jefferson Macklin. Since events don’t always unfold as anticipated, it’s imperative to be able to talk and work through issues with the landlord. 

2. A Lease No One Looks at After Signing


The best lease can go into a drawer and sit there until renewal time, says Aquitaine Group partner Jeff Gates. His company has eight stores in Boston and near-in ‘burbs, including: Aquitaine, Cinquecento, Gaslight, Greenlight Cafe and Metropolis Café venues. One of the easiest parts of running this tight margin business is for a restaurant to find a landlord who operates from a position of knowledge about tenant prospects. When they call, Jeff says he interviews the developer or landlord. If they know his restaurant, it will be a great run, he says. 


3. A Location Near Housing


We live in times when an oven may be used to store sweaters rather than to prepare meals. People in two-income households don’t have time to cook, says Matt Kilty, Trinity Building & Construction Management president. There was a time when taking the family out to eat was a special event. Now it’s more, where should we eat tonight? says Matt, whose firm specializes in retail, restaurants and corporate interior build-outs. 

4. A Unique Experience


Restaurants want a space—usually 2k SF to 10k SF—that supports a unique, compelling concept, says WS Development VP Brian Sciera. His company is developing 1.1M SF of retail, restaurants, entertainment and fitness at the Seaport, arguably the hottest address in town. He says he’s offering prospective restaurant tenants exciting space in an emerging mixed-use waterfront neighborhood.


5. Buzz Factor


Offer restaurants an area that everyone's tweeting about, says Tom Bloch, the COO of Samuels which—with partners—has been pouring $2.3B into the Fenway to create a new neighborhood between the Longwood Medical Area and Back Bay. They’re transforming it from parking lot alley to a series of contemporary mixed-use buildings that are bringing in lots of new residents and businesses.

6. TI, Rent Numbers That Work


No matter how buzzworthy, the numbers—for rent and tenant improvements—have to balance with revenue projections, says The Briar Group CEO Austin O’Connor, whose family started the business decades ago. He likes the rent to be 6% of net income or 8% of gross. The Briar Group is always looking for their next concept—they currently have 12 venues—in a lively, diverse urban location with strong foot traffic. He’s drawn to nontraditional restaurant spaces like those in hotels. During the blizzards of ’15, his three restaurants in The Lenox and the Westin Waterfront saw revenues jump 63% compared to a year earlier. Diners got out of their rooms and socialized without having to battle the storms. 

Thanks to Our Sponsors


We couldn't produce this event without our partners: Marlborough EDC, Gulf Oil, Ruberto, Israel & Weiner, McDermott, Quilty & Miller, the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Some, like Next Step Living’s Craig MacIntyre and Bob Jackson are super nice to our kids (like this reporter’s daughter playing hide and seek). They offer restaurants the EcoThermal Filter System that uses waste heat from commercial cook lines to pre-heat water.


For another partner, Friends of Boston's Homeless, Bisnow donated $1k. FOB provides housing, job training and help to find permanent employment to our friends and neighbors who don’t have a home.