2/3/10 - Trip to Sarasota
Today I ventured out to Sarasota. I hit exit 213 (Fruitville Road, SR 780) and exit 210 (Bee Ridge Road, SR 758). This area is slightly older than the three exits above. Most plazas are older buildings with older architecture. Not that this is a problem, but just an observation I made. I traveled westbound on each road up to Lockridge rd which is probably less than a mile shy of 301. I wasn’t too happy with my discoveries.
First was Fruitville road. There was a nice small plaza on the right hand side after exiting the highway. Before I get into it, here are my basic criteria in my pizza search:
Middle class area - I don’t want a lower class area that chooses the chain pizza’s $5.99 pies, and I don’t want the upper class areas (not many of those) where people would prefer a fancy dine in restaurant.
High traffic area - I’ve been looking at the FDOT web page to track this. Most of the places I’m looking that are in excess of 35,000 cars that will pass by the establishment daily. These areas tend to be closer to the highway, I75. The further off the highway, the more the traffic dies down.
Good visibility - I’d rather not have a place where people need to turn up a couple side roads to get there. Visible from the main road is my goal. I’d imagine being visible from the main road will be a catalyst to a quicker start.
I’m sure there are more that I’m not thinking of now, but these are the basics.
Fruitville road had a small plaza right off the highway on the right. There were about 4-5 stores easily visible from the road, and then a Sam’s club behind the plaza. Unfortunately, there were no opportunities for leasing here. All of the spots were taken. As I continued Westbound, every plaza seemed to have a pizza place. Most were the chains, and sprinkled in were the occasional small business pizzerias. There was an older plaza I found right on the corner of Fruitville and Beneva road. I saw a lot of older people along with Amish people in the plaza. Odd combination? I didn’t get the best vibes from the area, but I left a message with the leasing agent anyway to see what the deal was with the open spots. Unfortunately, that was about it for Fruitville.
Bee Ridge road was more of the same. It was an older community once again littered with chain pizzerias. I was excited a couple times as I found a few plazas that seemed to be rather busy, but I always seemed to start at the wrong end and would find a pizzeria in one of the last lots in the plaza. I spent about an hour traveling up and down on this road, but wasn’t able to find any appealing locations. Any spot was either pinned between pizzerias, or had a pizzeria in the plaza already.
Here’s one issue I seem to have. I’ve found one location that I’m very fond of. Every other spot I find I tend to compare it to this one. I’m not sure if that’s the best idea because I instantly rule out locations with a quick comparison to my favorite one to this point. In these preliminary stages, I probably need to be a bit more open minded. I could easily begin negotiations with the place I currently have ranked as my highest, just to find out there’s no chance the deal will go down. Then I’ll be back to square one with little information on the other plazas that I initially dismissed.
The plaza I have ranked #1 right now is nearly perfect. It’s in an extremely high traffic area, a very large and well maintained plaza that’s relatively new, great visibility from the road and right off of the highway. Here’s the issue. There are basically two spots available. I’ll post a picture to show my dillema.
Location A was a former pizzeria, 1900 sq ft. This should create HUGE initial savings. The majority of the electrical and plumbing area already in place. For some reason the floors were all torn up, but I’ll still save 10’s of thousands with the essentials already in place. I believe there is also a grease trap which will save another few grand. I have the phone number for the Manatee County Government Building Department which I plan on calling tomorrow. Hopefully they can dig up the plans that the last owner had so I can see what’s already in place. To me this spot is perfect besides ONE issue. Parking. Take a close look at the picture. There are a few spots lined up close by, but they’re usually filled up, I bet by employees that are lazy and don’t want to walk. I’m unsure of what type of problem this will create. Will people choose not to come here because they have to walk a couple hundred feet to their car carrying a pizza?
Location B is a different story. There are plenty of parking spaces right outside of this lot. I believe it’s currently a 4900 sq ft lot they plan on splitting into 3000 and 1900. It’s also the first store you’ll see when you pull into the plaza. This can only be a good thing. The issue with this one is that the rent is going to be a few dollars more per sq ft, and I’ll certainly be shelling out 10s of thousands to get the initial plumbing and electrical foundation in place.
Assuming most of the time the close spots are taken, how much of a downfall is it to have a small walk to the car for a takeout order? Dine in is much more popular in FL, but I’d still say that over 2/3rds is takeout. I’d like to hear some thoughts on this one.
I plan on hitting one last exit tomorrow, 207. After that, I’ll be traveling up and down 301 out by the gulf. I’d rather not have to travel this far to work daily, but everything is an option at this point.