Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Location Stories

I feel so lucky that I have had the opportunity to help so many people start their own businesses. A few of my restaurant clients are getting ready to open their doors and it makes me so happy to know that I had a part in it. In the past few months, I have written business plans for about 5 people with restaurant aspirations in Portland as well as been on the periphery of many others. Each one has had its own series of lessons that have huge value to anyone wanting to start their own business.

Of everything I have seen, the most constant lesson is that finding the right location is hands down the most important and hardest part. I know a lot of people that have been looking for locations for a very long time. It makes me feel better knowing there are others in the same boat as us. And of the clients that do have locations I have seen some pretty crazy stuff happen.

I've seen one landlord turn out to be a complete nut job and lock the owner out of their own restaurant, losing everything inside and their entire investment. Another person lose their location because a higher bidder came along and they did not have their contract in writing. I've seen another get really lucky and fall in to a great location but they were 100% not ready mentally (we have to see what happens with this one). I've also seen people be so anxious for a location that they jumped at the first one that came along and ended up making a huge mistake that they're now trying to get out of.

The crazy thing is that this is all part of normal business. We have experienced a lot of the same lessons first hand in our 1.5 year long quest. But success, to me, means not giving up when faced with these pitfalls. I keep reminding myself that this is normal. One of these days, all our dues will be paid and the result will be beyond our wildest dreams.

Yesterday, we were walking down SE Hawthorne and noticed that the Chance of Rain Cafe had newspaper in the windows. We walked up to see what was going on just as the new owner was coming outside for some fresh air. He said he had bought the place a week ago and was turning it in to a breakfast and lunch place called Magnolia. We talked with him for about 5 - 10 minutes (turns out he's also from Nashville) and then went on our way. I wish I had asked him about how he found the place or how long he was looking for one. I'm sure he would have had a good story too.

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