5 tips for finding the best location for your brand
By Christine Deschaine, SVP, Kennedy Wilson Brokerage Group
Fast casual concepts are an expected convenience in today’s restaurant scene, meeting the needs of fast-paced lifestyles with fresh ingredients, robust flavors and customizable options. Urban and suburban markets are seeing mixed-use projects that favor the fast casual tenant as an amenity to their office, residential and retail environments. The growing availability of these restaurants is no doubt changing the way patrons are choosing to dine, from a quick bite during lunch breaks to dinners out with the family.
With the rising popularity of fast casual food options, there is ever-increasing competition among chains to nab the best locations in order to attract a steady stream of the right consumer. Overall, franchisees are in search of storefronts that have an ideal location, high visibility and like-minded co-tenancy, especially in dense urban markets. They also evaluate sales volumes of existing fast casual concepts in the area to determine their site selection for long-term success.
Fast casual franchisees should consider a few specific components when determining the perfect spot for their next storefronts:
- Demographics: Close proximity to a strong employment base is also a factor, including educational facilities, religious assemblies, office campuses, city and county offices, big block offices and hotels. Aside from the foot traffic such neighbors provide during the lunchtime rush hour, storefronts near dense residential populations can also find success in serving the evening dinner crowds.
- Neighboring tenants: Demographics typically drive the real estate transaction, however, franchisees have found that being close to specific types of tenants is what truly helps to drive business to the front door. One way to ensure foot traffic is to select a location with great anchors, such as well-known grocery stores, a variety of entertainment choices and/or soft goods stores.
- Site footprint: In today’s market, the fast casual tenant requires less square footage and labor than a full-service restaurant, which expedites the process of obtaining permits and licenses. Ultimately, this makes the establishment more time and cost effective for the owner.
- Accessibility: With the development of the fast casual concept, parking remains an important factor in the selection process, so franchisees look to multi-floor parking garages or quick and easy street parking access for the consumer. The fast casual tenant also understands that the customer is increasingly utilizing public transportation, ride share options or even walking to their destinations. In response, they are seeking locations that are near public transportation hubs like the Metro system.
- Environment: Another concept franchisees must take into consideration in today’s market is one that’s being driven by landlords nationwide. Once referred to as a "food court," these new "markets" or "food halls" provide a variety of fast casual tenants under the same roof. This concept creates a community which meets the needs of a variety of demographics at once. Due to the broad appeal of such markets, foot traffic is historically stronger than standalone locations.
With the above checklist in hand and a professional broker on their side, tenants have the opportunity to excel in today’s competitive fast casual market.
Topics: Operations Management