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The old cliché about restaurant site selection is actually true: Success is all about three factors: "location, location, location." Unless your restaurant concept involves a food truck or a pushcart, you will probably be trying to find the optimal site for your restaurant at a price you can afford. It sounds easy, but it's not. Finding the right site requires patience, effort and a Sherlock Holmes-like ability to draw conclusions from many facts and observation.

Some restaurateurs develop their concepts based on an available site. You may have driven by a vacant storefront or seen a shopping complex under construction and thought, "That would be a great location for a [your idea here]." While this approach to restaurant development can work, it's risky. Sites that are vacant are usually vacant for a reason: high rents, low traffic counts, building problems, difficult landlords.

The site that has been five or six restaurants in quick succession is particularly difficult to turn around because most patrons in the area will probably have written off that location as a failure regardless of what concept goes in. Even if you bring in an entirely new menu, name, look and management style, many people will shy away from a location where they've had a bad meal experience in the recent past.


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