Renting your restaurant to another chef when closed?

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Joined May 10, 2020
Hey everyone, just looking to get a quick thread going and seeing how other people are handling unused capacity.

If you only open for dinner, would you ever consider letting someone else use it for breakfast and lunch while you're closed, either for dine-in or takeout-only?

If not, why not? If so, what logistics would you make sure to spend extra time on? E.g. cleanliness, insurance, etc.

Thanks for your help!
 
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I've shared kitchen space before. Make sure you are covered for any liability - if you can get them to have their own license/permit all the better (so if someone becomes ill as a result of their food, they can't come after you). Plus if they get hurt in your facility, you need to be covered for that as well. They should have their own insurance policy, and for that, they'd need a permit in their own name.....

Figure out what storage you want them to have access to; how they will get ingredients, deliveries, etc.

What equipment will you allow them to use and if something breaks, who is responsible to fix it (e.g., you have a revolving rack oven and someone flips a sheet pan of lamb inside it and it needs servicing so you can't bake until it's fixed....) For small stuff, figure out a way to mark them so they can be separate (I deliberately used a different kind of rubber spatula so I didn't have to worry about odors from savory cooking but this may not be an issue for you).

Will you allow borrowing of ingredients and how are they replenished (one caterer I shared with routinely borrowed eggs, cream, sometimes butter - and never remembered to replace it. When I'd go get it from their cooler, one of the cooks would say "she took our cream" and then I'd have to remind them they took 4 quarts of cream from me last week... we ended up with a white board to keep track).

Have a posted cleaning schedule so you aren't always cleaning up after them, and they you. If they are there in the mornings/afternoon, make sure they have time to clean up before you need the space. Mopping the floor may not be feasible between them leaving and you starting.

Recognize that their use of your equipment isn't supposed to subsidize your utility bills - you are running that cooler 24x7 with or without them. I once looked at a facility who wanted to charge me $2500/month - for a cramped, overcrowded filthy kitchen; the proposed section to build cakes had *carpeting* on the floor! because I'd be sharing his huge cooler and he calculated my rent to keep that cooler running. Yah, no.

Understand that emergencies happen and sometimes they need to be there when you are; or you need to be there when they are. Be patient in these circumstances. Communicate what's working and what isn't on a regular basis so stuff doesn't build up and cause resentment.

There are always people looking to start a food business that can dovetail with your availability; I've seen caterers share with marshmallow makers; with cookie bakers; with popcorn sellers; with sauce/dressing/seasoning makers..... so see what your health dept allows and good luck!
 
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How would you separate the difference in characteristics of the food and the potential conflicts in business model? In my experience, those who are only open for one service per day have generally chosen to do that for very specific reasons. For example, a restaurant that specializes in breakfast food typically does not want to get involved with dinner menus. What about the opposite: a restaurant that only serves dinner suddenly moves into serving breakfast? To the public, the lines of separation wouldn't be prominent. They would consider those who provided the dinner service and the breakfast service to be one in the same. From my point of view, if I built a reputation for providing excellent dinner service, I would not want to risk diminishing that reputation.

While they're may be certain aspects of shared space that could conceivably fray certain overhead costs, there could be entanglements and overlaps in terms of liability and risk that could present issues for leases, insurance, health etc. What if the people who work the breakfast service have bad food handling skills that cause the people who come for your dinner service to get sick?

The risks and complications associated with the idea of shared space far outweigh any advantages, in my opinion. So, I would have to say it would not be a good idea.

Cheers. :)
 
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I've said for year that there are many restaurants that close at 3PM could share with an evening service. There would be some thinking involved but it can be done. The person renting would pay rent on the space and also for equipment usage. They would also pay their fair share of all utilities and so on. They would also cover their own liability insurance.
For example a morning breakfast and lunch place could rent the space out to a Bistro that started their service at 5PM to 10 PM with white table cloths. I think you will see this happening in the near future........
 
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It's an interesting idea to be sure.

I wonder if the "room mate" idea of a restaurant could actually work. There would be a lot of challenges to be sure, but the idea of lowering the monetary hurdle of opening a place is appealing.

I feel like there would be a lot of complaining and finger pointing between the two concepts, but with the right people and the right set up it could work.
 

pete

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Besides all the liability and overhead issues that would need to be worked out, I see the potential for problems with people differentiating between the 2 places as sgsvirgil mentioned. You are going to have a hard time getting people to see these as 2 completely different restaurants with different owners. If one place ends up making someone sick, it is going to come back on both of you. If the dinner owner/chef is doing a great job and serving awesome food but the breakfast/lunch owner/chef loses focus and starts putting out crap its going to come back on both of you. There is no way you are going to convince the public that you are 2 totally separate entities so you had better be very sure of the person/team you are allowing to use your space, because not only is their reputation on the line but yours will be also.
 
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Initially my thought was it would be a possibility and good idea but only if I knew the chef well and even better if I had worked with them before; but then hindsight kicked in and reminded me that when I opened a restaurant with a partner who I had indeed worked with before and thought I knew well...wel it was a BIG MISTAKE. I bought him out after a year , which was probably 10 months too long. The answer for me would be no. Might look good on paper, but so do diplomas; reality is many times a whole nother thing!.
 
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How would you go about separating the two inventories? How would you monitor this? Lots of grey area here....to be sure.
 
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Sometimes a thing has never been done before because no one thought of it and other times a thing has never been done before because it's just a really bad idea. I think this fits in the latter category.
 
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This situation works best when the “ renter” is doing production of some kind—like baking, For a’la carte I think it would result in very confused customers, among other things....
 

pete

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Joined Oct 7, 2001
This situation works best when the “ renter” is doing production of some kind—like baking, For a’la carte I think it would result in very confused customers, among other things....
I agree. I have seen this done, successfully, a few times, but like you said, the renter was doing production, not serving meals.
 
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Wow, you guys have no imagination.

I think we all know that in order to progress and thrive, the industry as a whole has to undergo some long term, systemic changes. Already thin to begin with, margins are getting squeezed more and more, food prices are going up, competition is absurd, dearth of motivated/talented workers...and I could go on. And all this is pre-Covid19.

We were/are already watching the death-knell of the small independent restaurant. Pretty soon we're going to be getting all our food from a delivery app or a fucking vending machine kiosk...we need leaders in the industry to start thinking of ways to lower the entry bar to ownership, find ways to increase margins, share space, build a community.

There are ways to overcome challenges...

I bet if I told you all 10 years ago I was going to start a website for people to book extra spare bedrooms for strangers to rent, you would call me crazy and tell me that there too many liability issues. You would say "there's already hotels and motels, whey would anyone pay a stranger to sleep in their house?" And then someone didn't listen to all the small minded naysayers and made AirBNB...which some of you might have even used.
 
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That’s nice....

When people compare their home based businesses to my bricks+mortar business, either I laugh in their face, or I get very angry with them and ask them if they have an idea of what kind of rent I’m paying, or if they even know that commercial properties pay a whopping 433% more in property taxes than residents, let alone what insurance costs. So the people I’m angry with are invariably politicians, school teachers, and C(sh)ity hall employees.

That said, I don’t have any skin in the game with airb&b, so I cant comment on that “business” , but boy do I have skin in the game with bricks and mortar businesses,with walk-in customers,with wholesale customers, with health inspectors, and with C(sh)ity hall employees, and I stand by my observations I made in my above post
 
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Wow, you guys have no imagination.

The man who has no imagination has no wings. Muhammad Ali
The man who has imagination but no practical experience has wings but no feet. cheflayne
Lack of imagination is not one of my problems. Too much imagination is one of my problems. Age is showing me to temper my imagination with practical experience. :~)
 
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Wow, you guys have no imagination.

We were/are already watching the death-knell of the small independent restaurant. Pretty soon we're going to be getting all our food from a delivery app or a fucking vending machine kiosk...we need leaders in the industry to start thinking of ways to lower the entry bar to ownership, find ways to increase margins, share space, build a community.

There are ways to overcome challenges...

I bet if I told you all 10 years ago I was going to start a website for people to book extra spare bedrooms for strangers to rent, you would call me crazy and tell me that there too many liability issues. You would say "there's already hotels and motels, whey would anyone pay a stranger to sleep in their house?" And then someone didn't listen to all the small minded naysayers and made AirBNB...which some of you might have even used.
And now, the bureaucrats are catching up with AirBNB, imposing rules and regulations and taxes. People have been tenants in various shapes and sizes since people started travelling; AirBNB didn't create something new, it just popularized it for this generation. Same as Uber and Lyft; taxi service isn't new but you had to be a licensed cab driver with a permit to operate. Uber just made it possible for the non-professional (for want of a better word) to be a taxi service.

There's imagination and reality. Sharing a space for production is different from a restaurant having two faces. If you're trying to re-imagine the restaurant industry - take some of those shuttered restaurants and turn them into incubator kitchens, which will have to be run by someone who ultimately pays the bills (oops! not enough rent, can't pay the electric bill this month....) Rent it to a food truck operator.

The real limitations are imposed by the health dept and state/local governments who make the rules to ensure public health and safety.
 
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I guess the first thing anyone who has signed a commercial lease and is reading this thread is thinking this:
“ what does my lease say about sub-leasing.?”
The majority of leases won’t allow it, but for those that do, or those who own their own property are thinking:
“ what kind of insurance do I need, and how much is the premium for subleasing.?”

It’s all about control—or responsibility, depending on how you look at it. Consider this:
You hire me. If I show up sick( respiratory or otherwise) you have the right to send me home. Of course labour board would fine you if you didn’t, and workers comp will fine you because you did—depriving me of earnings, but that’s a topic for another day.... If I show up drunk or stoned, same thing. If You sublease, you lose that control, you have no right to send me home, Im paying you, not the other way around. You sublease, and I buy potatoes off the back of a ‘84 Malibu station wagon and introduce roaches or mice to your otherwise clean establishment, you loose control. If you sublease and are a Jewish/vegan/Muslim/nut free establishment, and a month later I decide to put pork peanut terrine on the menu, you loose control.

Yeah yeah, I know, sunshine and roses are streaming out of my backside. Like I said in my first post, it could work if I’m producing pastry items. It could work if I’m a family member, or if Im an ex-employee or someone you’ve worked with for a few years. But like chef layne wrote, my imagination is working o.t. , and it scares me crap less
 
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