As Boulder's industry, population, and real estate evolve, one thing remains: its rich culinary heritage. According to YourBoulder.com, Boulder has over 115 restaurants, a significant figure given its population of fewer than 110,000.
In Boulder, farmer's markets are packed like a picadilly circus and on any night of the week, one can find a farm dinner. Restaurants -- old to new, high-end to street food, dawn to late, whacky to distinctive to old timey -- all manage to find a niche and draw a crowd.
If you are thinking of opening a restaurant in Boulder, there is rarely a bad time. Boulder was one of few markets that suffered minimally during the recession of 2008. Your bigger challenge might be finding the right spot. But fret not, we are here to help.
The most important question to answer is whether you want a space that was already a restaurant (a second-generation space) and therefore has all the infrastructure or a generic retail space that must be built out.
Second Generation Lease
Pros: The benefit of a second-generation space is that all the specialized equipment and build-out are typically already in place. Fridges, plumbing, the grease trap... these are all likely to be set up, which means you will have to spend much money less up front.
Cons: While you won't have to spend as much on equipping the space, you can almost always anticipate upgrades. You might need to bring things up to code or upgrade some of the equipment. It is unlikely you will have all the same needs as the tenant before you, so budget for this. Additionally, second generation spaces are rare and go off the market quickly. If this is what you need, be prepared to shop around a bit longer.
New Retail Lease
Pros: If you build out a restaurant in a generic retail space, you have the opportunity to customize it however you want. From seating arrangements to kitchen space, the sky's the limit (well, your budget, too). Also, the market is much more open as you can use any zoned retail space.
Cons: Upfront costs may be significant. Remember those grease traps? A commercial grade grease trap starts at $2,000 and goes up to $15,000 depending on the size of your kitchen. Plan on major plumbing and ducting work as well, especially if your space is on a second floor.
Other Things to Watch Out For
Codes for public restrooms differ from city to city and depend on seating space. Be sure to know the codes in your city and county (or you can just ask us). Parking is a big deal in Boulder.
If your restaurant is grab-n-go (rather than sit-down) you will need easy, nearby parking and this will significantly impact your real estate options.
Liquor licensing is administered through the City of Boulder Beverage Licensing Authority. You can attend monthly public meetings at the Municipal Building to learn more about the topic, but plan on 3-4 months to complete a licensing application process.
Boulder is a great market for restaurants because it is a foodie town, but it is still saturated. Make sure you have a rock solid business plan and work with experts along the way. Market Real Estate is here to help you find clarity in the chaos. Call one of our pros any time to discuss your ideas, no matter where you are in the process!