Please help!!!

LNSC

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Mar 11, 2007
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Hi guys,

Im am in the middle of opening a coffee shop, I have found an ideal location in a very busy area full of day/night life. Although the property itself is a few stores away from Starbucks and 2 stores away from another coffee shop, both coffee shops are always busy! My coffee shop concept is very different to Starbucks and a little more similar to the independant coffee shop but i feel that my concept could still work here. So I went to take a look inside the potential property as a \"paying customer\" (we have the official viewing this coming week) and my problem is the layout. :( Ok so this is what the property is like, there is a large spiral staircase at the front of the property and this leads to the basement, first floor and top floor. In the basement there is a female and male bathroom, staff changing room, a large storage room and a cold room. On the ground floor theres tables and chairs, a counter at the back enough to fit a till and espresso machine and to the rear there is a very small kitchen which is walled off. The building itself is very very narrow and as much as i love the location im worried about the suitablility of the property. The property currently trades as a cafe/restaurant and the ground floor is almost like a long rectangle enough to fit 35 covers. The property feels like its back to front and my main problem is the positioning of the staircase (maybe im worrying over this too much). One of my ideas was to knock down the wall to the kitchen on the ground floor (place the kitchen in the basement) and place a counter there along with a small pastry case and a drinks/sandwich fridge but this means that the bar/counter will have to be at the back of the store. I then though i could push all the seatings to the right hand side of the store and the traffic flow will be on the left side. Upstairs will have table service which saves the hassel of customers having to carry their drinks and food up themselves. If you find a great location, is it possible to make a property work around your needs or is this too much work?! We havent got a large budget to spend on the building either but this location is just too ideal :cry:

Please please help!

LN.
 

cafemakers

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Nov 3, 2004
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LNSC said:
Hi guys,

]If you find a great location, is it possible to make a property work around your needs or is this too much work?! We havent got a large budget to spend on the building either but this location is just too ideal :cry:

Please please help!

LN.

"Haven't got a large budget" could be a problem. You can redesign any interior to match the needs of your business, all it takes is time and money. Sometimes that "ideal" location becomes less ideal because of the tenant improvement costs that will be necessary in order to make it work for your business model.

Have you negotiated with the landlord to cover the cost of tenant improvements? From your description, it seems that some of the problems inherent in the current configuration of this site would be prohibitive to ANY new business; these are good areas to approach the landlord for their support -- after all (goes the argument), regardless of whether or not your business succeeds, someone is going to need to have these changes made; by doing so, the landlord causes their investment to be much more valuable for other potential tenants.

Make sure that you create detailed financial projections of expected revenue and costs at this site; define exactly what a "great" location is and how much you expect to profit. If your models show a reasonable likelihood of success after making the interior changes that you feel are necessary, perhaps you should consider outside financing to ensure that you have sufficient capital to sustain operations while the business develops a brand reputation and customer base. Insufficient capitalization is dangerous, regardless of the location.

Best of success,

Andrew
 
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LNSC

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Mar 11, 2007
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cafemakers said:
LNSC said:
Hi guys,

]If you find a great location, is it possible to make a property work around your needs or is this too much work?! We havent got a large budget to spend on the building either but this location is just too ideal :cry:

Please please help!

LN.

"Haven't got a large budget" could be a problem. You can redesign any interior to match the needs of your business, all it takes is time and money. Sometimes that "ideal" location becomes less ideal because of the tenant improvement costs that will be necessary in order to make it work for your business model.

Have you negotiated with the landlord to cover the cost of tenant improvements? From your description, it seems that some of the problems inherent in the current configuration of this site would be prohibitive to ANY new business; these are good areas to approach the landlord for their support -- after all (goes the argument), regardless of whether or not your business succeeds, someone is going to need to have these changes made; by doing so, the landlord causes their investment to be much more valuable for other potential tenants.

Make sure that you create detailed financial projections of expected revenue and costs at this site; define exactly what a "great" location is and how much you expect to profit. If your models show a reasonable likelihood of success after making the interior changes that you feel are necessary, perhaps you should consider outside financing to ensure that you have sufficient capital to sustain operations while the business develops a brand reputation and customer base. Insufficient capitalization is dangerous, regardless of the location.

Best of success,

Andrew

Hi Andrew, you have raised some very good points that i have certainly noted down. Negotiating with the landlord to cover this cost didnt pass my mind and im really glad you reminded me of this option. :) I have yet to meet with the current business owners this week and have a thorough inspection of the property. The more i think about this place the more layout designs i come up with to change it. Just say this first viewing goes really well and i wanted a second viewing, would it be normal to bring a shopfitter or architect along to view it also before i would even consider making an offer?
 

John P

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Jan 5, 2007
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Salt Lake City
I think it would be essential to have the input of an architect/shopfitter before making any kind of offer.

Will it work work flow wise, space wise, any structural concerns, etc.

The more information and expert input you have the stronger position you have to bargain from -- or it will help you know to walk away.
 

BaristaTrainer

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Oct 18, 2004
192
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Portland, OR
LN,

Keep in mind that you need to dedicate at least 6 to 7 feet for JUST your espresso machine area - machine 30" to 40" wide (left to right), espresso grinder & knock box to right, 24" to left side for syrups, chocolate, etc., 2 door refrigerator under machine. The espresso station should be close enough to the cashier to allow for easy communication, and for one person to do double duty during slow times, but I think you will really need to think of the cashier function & barista function as being separate.

The ergonomic design will be essential, especially if you have limited space. Trash cans, sinks, blenders, and so much more will need to be laid out for optimal performance.

Good luck and it is smart to consider this before diving into a lease. We offer full plan reviews and ergonomic design drawings from a coffee retail perspective, so if you have any questions feel free to call or write. It sounds like an interesting space.

- Matt
 
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LNSC

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Thanks for all your input guys i really appreciate it! After much thought i decided that the next step would be to continue with the official viewing with the agent and bring along an architect to get some valuable input. Anyhoo.. it didn’t go according to plan, after i had put this thread up I tried to get in touch with the appointed agent only to be told "he'll call you back" (he never does). This actually went on for over a week. I called daily to get some updates on the property but each agent that i spoke to gave me a different story, one agent said the vendor was on holiday and will be back on a certain date, the actual agent dealing with this particular property informed me that i had in fact misunderstood and that the vendor wont be back for another week and then… a different agent told me she believed the vendor was back from holiday a while ago!! What on earth was going on?! I was so frustrated that no body was contacting me and that i had to call them all the time, all i wanted was a viewing!! I sent the agent an email a while ago because i was tired of being told something different all the time (until this day i have not yet received a reply) again i called the agent to see what was up because they had promised to get me a viewing the following day and had told me they would call me back to confirm it, 6pm was creeping up and im thinking if they're leaving the office soon how am i supposed to know if my viewing is confirmed? So i gave them yet another call only to be told "oh somebody had put in an offer this afternoon and the vendor has accepted it" I calmly replied, so why didn't you have the decency to update me so im not waiting around for a viewing that wont be happening?! And what did the agent say?! "These things happen" There was no apology for wasting all my time hanging around!!!!! I hung up and by this point i was fuming, every bad word under the sun came out of my mouth! Even when I think about the service these agents gave me it makes my blood boil, why on earth did they leave me hanging around for wasting all my time and telling me they’d call me when they wont?! I hope all agents are not like this because I am not looking forward to it. Grrrrrrrrrr…… ok i am so over it no :grin:
 

AJPRATT

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Mar 7, 2007
382
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Atlantic City, NJ
LNSC: I feel your pain... We went around for about a month before we walked away from one place. The seller's agent call our agent and said, "Offer X and you can have it all." Well, since X was much lower than we were prepared to offer, we jumped on it. All seemed like it was falling into place.

Well, after a month of trying to get in to see with place with a contractor and inspector to calculate what renovations would cost, and getting nothing but a hard time, our agent called and was told, "We haven't returned your offer because you're thrid on the list and we don't think you have realistic expectations for the property; selling $5 cups of coffee will never fly." Where they got that idea, I'll never know. So, we decided to walk away. And you know what? It felt great. At first, we were worried, we'd never find a place like that again, but here we are, working with another seller, and probably in a better spot. I guess my advice is: Don't let them get you down!
 

latinboy1976

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Mar 24, 2007
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Seattle
There is a saying I like to remember when things don't go quite as I want them. As one door closes another one opens. Keep your chin up everything will fall into place when the time is right.
 
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LNSC

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AJPRATT - That was awful! It really does kill your motivation to continue on dealing with agents and third parties. Im so glad to hear you have found a better spot! keep me updated with your progress :)

latinboy1976 - Thanks for your words of inspiration! what makes the saying so great is that it really does make sense as well :grin:
 

quickboy

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Apr 19, 2007
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Eastern Washington
Whatever happens, don''t become averse to talking with agents who, afterall, are the gatekeepers...

A quick story: I was working on opening my first location when I thought that I found the perfect place to build (a drive-thru). However, it was managed by one of the largest firms in the area, and I had heard that they were terrible to work with. I researched, googled, schemed, worried for months, (actually about a year) and then finally called them only to find out that they had just decided to look for an additional project for that lot, and that they would develop it (more or less) to my specs. The lease wasn''t bad, and they were very professional and helpfull. I ended up not taking it due to a change in my personal life, but have sinse worked with them and been very pleased.

So whatever you do, don''t be like me and waste a year wondering about what might be discovered in a single phone call.
 

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