Moving On With Time Left On Your Lease

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QUESTION From: Tiffany in Michigan

“I just found the perfect new location for my restaurant. I’m mot interested in it being a second location or opening another concept I just want to move but have two years left on my 5yr lease.

I took your advice from your restaurant leasing guide and demanded the ability to sub-let and change my concept at the present location (Thank you!) but haven’t been able to find a new tenant.

Everyone is pretty stuck on taking over the space with me being their financial partner. No thanks!


Any other suggestions.”


HH ANSWER:

Well, if your Landlord won't let you out of your Lease, it sounds like you’ve done the best thing you can do - which is create options for yourself.

Here’s one tip I didn’t mention in my FREE Restaurant Leasing Guide:

Create more opportunities for aspiring restaurateurs by offering an incubator space.

The fact that you have the ability to sub-let and rebrand/reposition the space means you shouldn’t have many issues (with the possible exception of exclusivity the landlord may have granted other tenants next to or nearby your location) opening a “rotating concept” that creates buzz about the space, pays the rent and helps those would-be operators prove their concept and attract potential investors.

Talk to your landlord first to make sure they’re on-board and then start marketing it within your own four walls, on the outside of the building/in windows, in the local paper and on social media.

Remove all “branding”, signs, etc... and consider updating to a very generic or painting it very“vanilla” colors (shades of white/tan/brown/grey) if it already isn’t. Think hotel-style standard ambiance that would work with any concept and not distract from the food at all (e.g., urban industrial).

Monthly tenants would simply provide menus, music, staff and food (and remove it all when their time is up). Of course you should check with your Insurance provider… They may even be willing to alter your current policy or have a temporary policy to which you could refer any monthly tenants or make mandatory for their monthly rental period (just be sure to have your self or your business named as the beneficiary on the policy).

You will also need to speak with a reputable lawyer who Will likely be familiar with any potential legal repercussions associated with temporarily subletting your space.

All you do need then is a great name… Might I suggest the name: Special? (My last client didn't like the name...said it reminded him too much of the LEGO Movie).

Here’s a great article on someone who’s doing something very similar in San Fransisco:

https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Bay-Area-pop-up-restaurants-get-new-SF-home-12617661.php

Good Luck! And let me know what you end up deciding to do.