Best Restaurant Times Are Also Most Stressful
It's a golden age of American restaurants, especially in Boston, bursting with innovation. But that doesn't make it easy for restaurateurs and their landlords. It's just the opposite, according to the speakers at our Boston Restaurant Development event.
About 300 real estate pros came out to District Hall for our event. Our panel agreed restaurants can't be ordinary any more. Even long-standing establishments need to offer unique, or at least highly distinctive, food, drink and decor. It can hard for a new place to differentiate itself. Restaurateurs need to ask themselves, what's missing in the community? And how can they offer it with passion and focus?
There's demand for restaurants in mixed-use locations, our speakers explained, but restaurants still have to have their own identity, whether they're next to hotel, retail or another property type. And retailers need restaurants and their social component to keep people coming in an age of online shopping. Retailers have learned they need to provide an experience. Pictured: WS Development VP Brian Sciera and Moody's Delicatessen & Provisions chef and owner Joshua Smith.
What's better? An older and very interesting space that needs a lot of TI dollars to make it a functioning restaurant, or shell space that can be transformed into something absolutely new and hopefully interesting? Though a lot of TI dollars are in play, there's no simple answer to that. A restaurateur needs his or her own judgment, and the help of experienced real estate pros to make that call. CBRE VP Andrea DeSimone and Bergmeyer associate Jef Leon, who moderated.
Even experienced restaurateurs find that they need more TI dollars than first thought, having to invest in areas that may not be visible to patrons, but which are critical all the same. The time to deal with the likes of noise, smoke, odors and trash is before the restaurant opens. It's not as much fun as the glitz of the dining room or the glamour of the bar, but dealing with them after opening is much more expensive and disruptive. Here's Stephanie's Restaurant Group CEO Leo Fonseca, Not Your Average Joe's CEO Steve Silverstein and Samuels & Associates VP Lori McWeeney.
First impressions are often through social media; it's how many customers find ideas about where to go. A well-put-together Instagram account, for instance, will make a world of difference. Restaurants are now being designed with social media in mind—how will the menus, decor and presentation all look on social media? Ruberto, Israel & Weiner chair, commercial real estate group Michael Rosen, who moderated, and Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34 and Row 34 Portsmouth chef and partner Jeremy Sewall.
Keeping with the theme, our event had festive air, complete with food and drink. Snapped: Trinity Building's Matthew Kilty, Dyer Brown Architects' Brent Zeigler, Singer Equipment's Sue McNulty, and Trinity Building's Paul Mancini and Mark Dettenrieder.
Tocci Building Corp's Bartholomew Tocci, speaker Andrea DeSimone and Nickerson PR's Lisa Nickerson.
A huge thank you to all of our sponsors, who made excellent food like this possible: Bergmeyer Associates, Boston Event Solutions, CBRE, District Hall, The Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Next Step Living, Phase Zero Design, and Ruberto, Israel & Weiner.