NY to FL: Logging My Journey to Open a Pizzeria

Pretty sure thats a standard thing, not just Florida… That wouldn’t make sense to do it per month when rent is usually on a yearly term…

http://www.cityfeet.com/CommercialRealE … Id=1&City=

(^Sort by rent)

I mentioned in earlier posts, but my living situation now is too good to pass up. I’m in a 2000 sq ft house paying less rent then if I was living in a 800 sq ft apartment. My parents vacation/retirement home is here. They’re using us as a source of income and tenants they can trust and actually still come to the house when they’d like, and we’re using them for the cheap rent. Mutually beneficial relationship :slight_smile:

At a non chain, a large pizza will cost about $12-$13, 1-topping is $1-$1.50. So with tax probably close to $15. There are some nice upper end of the middle class areas here. Like I mentioned, Lakewood Ranch is a booming development with all the bells and whistles of an upper class area, and this is just east of I75.

Would you be interested in writing your journey in a blog? I am part of a network of bloggers who specialize in the food service and restaurant industry. We would love to have someone in the Pizza category and it would be great for exposure for your company since the network is sponsored by foodservicewarehouse.com and they market all the blogs not only on their website but also through social media. Check out the network at: http://bit.ly/9D8KGg

Not a bad idea. I like the idea of the interaction I’m receiving here with fellow forum members, but I can certainly just copy and paste the main posts that I make into the blog.

I have a little news I found out this afternoon about my most promising location to date. I’ll post more about it a little later.

That’s interesting, in nearly ten years of living here I have never seen a single commercial property listed that way. That link you sent me is a mainland website. Here in Hawaii, the norm is to break it down per month, example : $2.50 sq/ft + cam.

I guess I should rephrase and say, “must be a mainland thing”. It figures, Hawaii is about the closest thing to living in a foreign country and still being in the United States.

2.4.10 - Another Talk With the Realtor

Here’s a link to my last log:

So today, I was speaking with one of my co-workers about the location I was looking at. I told him of the dilemma. Of the two spots I was interested in, one was an old pizzeria but had the parking issue, and the other was in a better spot in the plaza, but was going to need much more work done to make it restaurant ready. Well, after talking to the leasing agent, she was apparently mistaken. Location A which was supposedly a former pizzeria never was a pizzeria. There was a lease signed by a potential pizzeria, but things fell through. So at this point it seems that there will be no benefit to being in that corner spot with bad parking besides a $1 or $2 less per sq/ft. Not that that’s nothing, but the potential savings of $50k+ upfront are out the door. I don’t get the best vibes working with these people when the Realtor doesn’t know what was in the spaces they’re trying to lease.

So here’s my question to everyone here. Who has opened up a pizzeria in a place that was never a restaurant? What type of deals were you able to work out with the landlords in regards to the high prices of plumbing, electricity, gas lines, etc. One of the biggest mistakes the owner I work for now made was not doing his due diligence on what the landlord would and wouldn’t cover. The plan was about 125-150k to spend on the pizzeria, but he was unaware that he’d be responsible for all of the plumbing, electricity, etc. which cost close to 75k. The area he leased was a white box with absolutely nothing but cement floors and four white walls, so he incurred every cost imaginable getting that place up and running.

How have you current pizzeria owners fared in these instances? Tomorrow I’ll be going with my co-worker who is more knowledgeable on this stuff than I am. These spaces have been occupied before, so there is the basic plumbing and electric work done, but there obviously will need to be money spent to accommodate a pizzeria. He’ll hopefully be able to gauge the type of work that needs to be done and give me a better idea of what I can expect to spend in a place like that.

Check what the requirements are in your state. Here, the landlord is required to provide a fully functionally bathroom that meets all handicap requiremnts as well as a electrical panel with a certain amount of amps and the lights. As far as any plumbing and electrical that would be needed for any of your equipment etc…that’s on you.

We took over a vanilla box (literally nothing but 4 walls and a floor). Had to do everything from scratch. With that you have to have a licensed contractor draw up all the blueprints for the mechanical, plumbing, electrical, flooring/ceiling etc and they all had to be inspected and approved by the village before you get permits and start construction. Our landlord gave us 3 months free rent, which was basically jack b/c it took about 6 months to actually complete the job. It took over a month just for the permits alone which also was b/c we had to wait for the ‘public notice’ sign and the public hearing meeting. Those 3 months went fast and we were paying rent while we werent bringing any money in. So my suggestion to you is not to make the same mistake and negotiate all the what-ifs. Try to get a build out allowance as well. Especially in this day and age where landlords are practically begging to have all their properties occupied.

I spoke to the Realtor once again today. The two potions aren’t what you’d call a “vanilla box”, but they’re certainly not restaurant ready. With the way they are down here in FL from what I’ve heard, I’d expect the whole building process to take in excess of 6 months. I will be a huge stickler when it comes to rent being paid prior to business being open. The plaza still has far too many openings for them to be calling the shots. They need me more than I need them. I can certainly wait. They really don’t have much to lose by giving me those free months since some of these spots haven’t been occupied in quite some time anyway.

I took some pictures that I’ll upload in a few minutes of the plaza to give a better idea of what my options are.

2.5.10 - This Plaza Has Two Options

Here is an overhead shot of the plaza once again.

This is location B. As you can see from the overhead shot, this would be the second store you would see if you pulled in straight on the plaza instead of making a right. At this point, it’s part of a 4950 sq/ft lot that they plan on making into 3000 and 1950. Unfortunately, the 3000 is going into the corner, so they’ll have the prime location, possible two door entry, patio seating, etc. It’s supposed to be some sort of chain type restaurant, american food. Rent here will probably be about $22/sq ft.

This is location A. I have three pictures. One up close, one from a pivot point in the parking lot where I could turn 45 degeres to see location B, and then one from basically in front of location B looking out to location A. This is a 1900 sq/ft lot that’s been unoccupied for years. Rent here would probably be $18/sq ft. You can see the whole parking issue from the overhead shot best. Location B has beautiful parking where location A isn’t the best. The realtor said they could try to remove some handicap spots and put in some signs for short term, 15 minute parking which could help. Also, when 6ish rolls around and the dinner rush begins, I’d imagine the surrounding places minus the chinese restaurant will begin to slow down, hopefully opening up more parking.

Here are some of my thoughts on the location/parking issue that I’d love to hear people’s opinion on. First off, Location B is definitely the better location. It’s visibility from within the plaza would garner much more attention than the other spot. Parking is also a plus. Is it worth $4 more per sq ft? What do you guys think? I’m thinking that the parking won’t be a HUGE issue, but certainly could come into play. As I mentioned before, around night time things would probably slow down in that corner of the plaza freeing up some parking.

Anyways, I’d love to hear opinions on the two spots and what the thoughts are on whether or not it’s worth the extra few bucks, whether or not being next to the other planned restaurant would have a positive or an adverse effect, etc.


I don’t like that park - period. You seem to have time on your hands, go to each location (have friends help) and count foot traffic going past your front door during a 6 - 9pm time period (especially Friday & Saturday night). Delivery looks to be a beast from anywhere within the quadrangle.

Location - location - location. Location will be 80+% of your success.

I do have plenty of time on my hands, so you’re right, there’s no rush. What is it that you don’t like about the plaza? Can you elaborate? As for the foot traffic, I’d definitely need to spend a few hours and track what was going on during the busy hours. According to FDOT, over 60,000 cars pass by this plaza daily. The intersection there between I75 and SR70 is one of the busiest in the area.

One thing I keep thinking about is how important is it that the plaza is “hoppin’” at night time? If you’re pizzeria is just a standalone, for instance like D. Americo’s is (besides Dunkin’ Donuts) then the traffic that’s by you is generated by you. If the pizza is good, the traffic is there, and for us at D. Americo’s, the traffic is certainly there on Friday/Saturday/Sunday nights evening and nights. As for the plaza, I’d imagine the same deal. With the food being good, people will be there on the busy nights. Wouldn’t all the extra traffic from the plaza just be a plus over a place that is a standalone?

I did head to the plaza last night around 9:30 and it was very quiet, not much going on at all, but I wasn’t surprised. Besides the Subway and Chinese place, nothing was open so there was no reason for it to be busy. The busy time should be around lunch which will be a huge place. All the extra traffic generated by the plaza at lunch should help keep things busy during lunch times.

Anyways, just curious pizza2007 what it is about the plaza that you don’t like. Maybe there are some factors that I haven’t been considering that I need to start paying more attention to when I’m scouting out locations.

Its real easy. All the RED (f,g,h,i,j,k,l) locations have the prime (drive-by) turf already. So your traffic numbers are pretty useless. While the #s might attract customers for the retail businesses inside the plaza, the RED locations will suck 95% of your potential food business. You cannot run a successful pizza business from pure lunch sales (imho). Successful pizza businesses make most of their sales from 5 - 10pm. Delivery will be next to impossible from the plaza. I would go further down the road and look for a plat similar to those RED locations, one that is right on the street (think signage and access). If you’re part of a national chain, advertising helps offset bad location. If you’re an independent, location is everything.

All good points. I’ve liked the spot so I’ve tried to make my thinking be that the plaza itself had great road visibility, so even if my shop didn’t the plaza did. My belief has always been that the visibility from the road is HUGE for garnering attention those first few months, even years. After time, I would imagine if the pizza and advertising have been sufficient, along with word of mouth, if the product is good then there wouldn’t be much of an issue. That’s always been my thought process, but it could be flawed.

And you’re right, no question about it that pizza really should thrive on the 5-10 spot. I’m not sure if I agree about delivery being difficult from the plaza. Delivery guy would just be exiting and entering through the back entrance. I would imagine delivery would be big time from there due to all the local developments.

You’re points are all valid, especially about the majority of the food business being taken from the stand alones that are road side. Most drive bys will quickly see those and ignore what food is in the plaza.

Glad I’m in no rush with all of this. I’ll have to keep looking and see what else is around. I’m very glad I decided to post here on these forums. It’s nice to see things from all the different perspectives, especially those of people who have already had success.

One disagreement I do have about the 95% rate that those stand alones suck the food business out is the structure of the plaza. If you look, there is no entrance to any of those stand alones from the main road. They all have to enter the plaza and can then make a right. Just a thought.

I’m happy you see part of my point. Continue to study. Continue to search. Perhaps you’ll find a worthwhile objective. Sorry, short on time, can’t be as verbose as you.

Hey hey hey, don’t rain down on the guy who can type quick. There’s certainly a difference between between including detail and being verbose. Fortunately because I’m a quick typer I don’t have to sacrifice clarity to save time. A post like this a 30 seconds for me.

In a situation such as online forums, (your first response to my thread) it’s not always easy to be clear while being concise. Sometimes we have to say the same thing a couple different ways so that everyone understands.

This plaza is still under consideration, but as I’ve mentioned before, it’s good to get this third party perspective on different aspects about each location.

Tomorrow I have another 5 plazas I’m interested in checking out, mainly in the Sarasota area before I head to work around 2ish. I’ve mapped out a route and if all goes well (meaning I don’t sleep in too much because of the food coma I’m about to fall into) I’ll be on tomorrow night to post my findings, hopefully with more detail and pictures.

Food coma combined with an early day at work caused me to postpone my planned trip to check out a bunch of plazas. I’ll be at work 10+ hours tomorrow too so I’ll be putting the trip off till Wednesday.