16 September 2020/ rent_retail_guide

10 things you should know about selecting a restaurant location

Find your next shop or retail property to rent at Realla

Finding the right location is crucial when it comes to the success of a restaurant business. Opt for a high-footfall city-centre spot, and you could be faced with steep rental costs you can’t afford; choose a less busy area, and you might not make any profit. Your ideal location will depend on the type of business you’re launching, and you can work out which spot is right for you by considering the following 10 factors.


Important factors when choosing a restaurant location

1. Choosing a location means outlining your typical customer

The first step in any business property search should be to think about your ideal customer. What sort of people will be attracted to your restaurant and where are they based? When building up a picture of your primary customer pool, consider their:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Relationship status
  • Income
  • Attitude
  • Values

You should also think about whether they have children and a large family, and whether they plan ahead or choose restaurants impulsively. Once you’ve created an image of your typical customer, you can think about which locations would be close, convenient and appealing to them.

During this step, you should have categorised your restaurant business; for example, ‘trendy, fast-food takeaway outlet’ or ‘family-friendly Lebanese restaurant’. Here’s a general guide to the most suitable locations for each broad restaurant group:


Most compatible restaurant types

Town and city centres, high streets

Casual dining, fast food, pub, takeaway

Shopping centres

Casual dining, fast food

Retail parks

Casual dining, fast food, takeaway

Suburban areas

Fine dining, family-friendly, pub, takeaway

2. Footfall levels should match your opening hours

Most restaurant owners want to secure a busy spot, but you should go further in your research into consumer footfall. You can maximise your sales by choosing a location that’s busiest during your opening hours. For instance, a shopping mall kiosk might seem like the ideal choice for a takeaway snack business. But if you don’t open at weekends when the centre is at its liveliest, you could be better off looking elsewhere.

The footfall of different areas can vary from place to place, but here’s an example of how it can work:


Busy times

Ideal for

Town and city centres

7:30-9:00 Mon-Fri

12:00-14:00 Mon-Fri

17:00-18:00 Mon-Fri


Cafes and takeaway outlets, fast food stores

Shopping centres and retail parks


Casual dining restaurants, fast food stores, takeaways

Suburban areas


Fine dining restaurants, family-friendly restaurants, pubs, takeaways

3. Too much competition can be devastating

A little competition is no bad thing; it can push you to innovate, stay on top of consumer trends and grow your business. But setting up in a region with lots of similar restaurants already in operation could be risky. It’s worth doing a bit of research and finding out where there’s a gap in the market for your type of food or service.

If you can’t find an area with space for your restaurant, make sure your business has a USP so you can pull customers away from the existing eateries.

4. You probably need more space than you think

While space is often hard to come by – particularly in town and city centres – you must leave yourself enough room to create high-quality dishes and an inviting atmosphere. Takeaway and fast-food businesses can get away with small premises, but cramped seating is a no-no for casual and fine dining restaurants.

You can calculate how many people you’ll be able to serve simultaneously in any restaurant by allowing 1.5 square metres of space per diner.

During your property search, don’t forget to check the outdoor space. You’ll need to have enough room for vans and lorries to unload stock, as well as a bin storage section and, potentially, space for delivery drivers to collect takeaway orders.

5. Car parks can be helpful if you’re setting up out of town

Having a private car park alongside your restaurant will give you the chance to appeal to customers who don’t live locally. This addition will be most useful for eateries aimed at older, higher-income consumers with families. If you decide you’d like to find premises with on-site parking, look out for a car park with:

  • Spaces for staff vehicles
  • Spaces for vans and lorries to deliver stock
  • A delivery collection area
  • At least two bicycle spaces
  • Electric charging points

6. Public transport can help you reach more customers

If you’re not on the hunt for a restaurant with a car park, try to make sure your chosen spot has plenty of public transport stops nearby. This step is particularly relevant for businesses with a young, lower-income customer base.

Property hunters in or around the capital can visit Transport For London’s online PTAL tool to find out how accessible a location is. It uses a colour-coded map to rate areas in terms of their distance from frequent public transport services, from 0 (worst) to 6b (best).

Retail properties to rent at Realla


7. Your marketing power can influence your site selection

Restaurants with a strong advertising campaign or social media presence may be able to save on costs by renting an out-of-town property while still benefitting from a large customer base.

Think about your promotional plans; how much time and money you’ll put towards marketing and how much your restaurant will rely on passing trade. If you have a great product and can encourage consumers to go out of their way to buy it, you could expand your search radius.

8. Crime rates can have an impact on your profitability

It’s easy to overlook crime rates in your shortlisted locations, so take the time to do a bit of research into an area’s level of criminal activity. If a neighbourhood is known for its high mugging statistics, potential customers will be reluctant to travel to your restaurant.

What’s more, over half of small and medium-sized businesses in the UK have been affected by crime, with an average loss of £2,625 per incident. You can take steps to protect your business by avoiding dodgy areas.

9. Accessibility is key

Back in 2014, non-profit organisation AccessAble researched restaurant accessibility. It discovered just 60% of restaurants have an accessible toilet, 23% offer large-print menus and 9% provide hearing loops. In addition, only 55% of staff members have been trained in disability awareness and only 14% of the top 57 chains provide online information about their branches’ accessibility.

Set your business apart from the competition and maximise your profitability by making sure you choose a location with disabled access.

10. Previous occupants can tell you everything you need to know

There are two ways to glean information from a building’s past occupants:

  • Talk to previous tenants directly – Unlike landlords, they’ll have no reason to bend the truth and will be able to give an honest account of their experiences at the location.
  • Look into the property’s history – If you can’t make contact with the previous occupants, you should try to find out more about them and how long each one stayed in the property. An average lease duration of just a year or two could be a red flag, showing the location may not be profitable.

Secure your perfect restaurant location

To find the right rental contract for your business, search for Realla properties in your chosen location and filter the selection by choosing 'restaurant' from the drop-down 'SUB TYPE' menu.