2022 was a record year for Restaurant Realty Company (RRC) with 89 deals completed including 10 real estate deals in 55 California cities.
Although the market was still in a post Covid state, business for most of our clients improved from 2020 and 2021. In 2022 there were still many extraordinary challenges some of which included materials and labor shortages, increased interest rates, space restrictions for indoor and outdoor seating, concerns about an impending recession and the inflationary pressures of operators unable to offset increased costs with menu price increases. The market as a whole favored buyers as many sellers needed to get out of their business as a result of the above-mentioned challenges.
Who were the 2022 sellers?
1) Many of our sellers were baby boomers and after dealing with the past Great Recession, Covid and the now the impending recession their tolerance for dealing with future extraordinary challenges ended. Psychologically and physically many baby boomers did not want to continue and consequently they needed to get out of the business.
2) Other sellers didn’t have the necessary cash reserves to continue to fund the financial needs of their business. Many sellers hung on through Covid and the post Covid years because of PPP monies they received in grants and loans from the government. However, after they burned through these monies they no longer had a way of continuing funding the negative cash flows they were experiencing and consequently had to sell or give back their premises to their landlords.
3) There were a group of sellers that learned to pivot and got their businesses back to pre-Covid levels and were successful in selling their business at an aggressive price.
4) There were some sellers that had successful businesses pre Covid and post Covid that were older and ready to retire and, in many cases, received an aggressive price for their well-established business.
5) A restaurant, bar and/or club business owner that also owned their building have in most cases been in a strong position to sell their business with their building. This opportunity has always been appealing to buyers as buyers can control their occupancy costs as well as purchasing an appreciating asset when they own both the business with the building. A small percent of operators who own their business also own their building due to the high costs of real estate in general in California. Many of the buildings we sell are in rural or suburban areas where real estate is more affordable. There are also some good Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs available where buyers can get 23 or more year financing with as little as ten percent cash down.
Who were the 2022 buyers?
The buyers included the following categories.
1) Experienced restaurant owners, managers and employees who were looking for a good deal as 2020 to 2022 (Covid and post Covid years) have been largely a buyers’ market.
2) Inexperienced buyers who came from other industries because of being laid off or their industry being eliminated totally because of the pandemic. In many of these cases the inexperienced buyer partnered with an experienced restaurant, bar and/or club operator to help capitalize the business as well as to help the inexperienced buyer qualify for the landlord.
3) An employee of the sellers business whose strengths were recognized by the seller who made it possible for their employee(s) to purchase the business.
What type of restaurants, bars and/or clubs sold in 2022?
The businesses sold included the following categories.
1) A number of full-service restaurants with and without bars,
2) 10 deals included the business with the real estate which were both owned by the seller. They include as follows:
a) The Armory in Sonora- a 14,414 square foot restaurant, bar and entertainment center;
b) a 2 story building in San Rafael – a restaurant on the ground floor and a 4 bedroom, 3 bath residential unit upstairs;
c) The Branding Iron in Merced – a 10,000 square foot restaurant and bar;
d) The Lakehouse in South Lake Tahoe – a newly remodeled restaurant & bar on a 1.17 acre property;
e) Sarafino’s Italian Kitchen in Arnold – a restaurant on a 21,000 square foot lot;
f) Snowshoe Brewery Company in Arnold – a 6,000 square foot restaurant & brewery on a 1.25 acre lot;
g) Marcos Pizza in Corning – a 3000 square foot freestanding restaurant;
h) The National Hotel & Restaurant in Jamestown – a 9 room hotel, owners apartment unit and restaurant & bar built in 1859;
i) Service Station in Jamestown – a 2400 square foot restaurant + 2500 square foot heated patio; and
j) the building at 2315 Clement Street in San Francisco which houses Bill’s Place Restaurant.
3) A number of smaller businesses including businesses selling ice cream, yogurt, gelato, coffee, boba tea, fresh juice and deli and sandwich shops.
4) Several pizza operations with a large emphasis of their business being take-out and delivery.
5) A 9 room hotel with owners apartment and a full service restaurant and bar.
6) A 5 unit full service restaurant and bar operation which included 3 locations in Monterey, 1 location in Salinas and 1 location in San Jose.
7) A number of bar cocktail lounges.
8) A couple of brewpubs with full service restaurants.
9) A couple of breakfast and lunch businesses.
10) A bakery.
11) A shipping container that was converted into a retail food service operation.
As a result of our state-of-the-art marketing system and expanded team, Restaurant Realty has closed more deals in 2022 than any prior year in our 27 year history.
This past year we have closed 89 deals in the following 55 cities:
Southern California Cities: Los Angeles (2), Santa Monica, Corona, Montrose, Woodland Hills, Palmdale, Rialto, Santa Clarita, San Diego, San Bernardino, Lancaster, Garden Grove, Bellflower, Cypress, Ventura, Westlake Village, Torrance, El Cajon, Huntington Park, Moro Bay
Northern California Cities: Monterey (3), Cottonwood, San Rafael (4), Brentwood, Menlo Park (2), Oakland (3), Hayward, Davis, San Francisco (6), Corning (2), Palo Alto (2), Berkeley (4), Alameda, Arnold (5), Sacramento, Chico, San Jose, Half Moon Bay (2), Sonora (2), San Carlos, Windsor, Ross, Merced (2), Belmont, Roseville, Livermore, Watsonville, South Lake Tahoe(2), Jamestown (4), Emeryville, Mill Valley, Modesto, Pleasanton, Napa (2), Cupertino
Other activities which helped RRC expand its exposure to buyer and seller markets include the following items.
1. We added new agents and brokers in both Northern and Southern California.
2. Restaurant Dealmaker Show- In 2022 we started the Restaurant Dealmaker Show which is a monthly zoom webinar co-hosted by Steve Zimmerman, the CEO, Founder and Principal Broker of RRC. Steve co-hosts each episode with a different co-host including high producing RRC agents and brokers and industry experts including a hospitality attorney and many past RRC seller clients sharing their restaurant deal making experiences, success stories, challenges, and more.
3. We’ve participated as an expert witness being hired by numerous attorneys throughout the state to testify in depositions and in court on various legal matters ranging from partnership disputes, lease disputes and various other operational issues.
4. Steve Zimmerman was chosen with only 8 other real estate business brokers in the country to serve on BizBuySell’s Brokers Advisory Council. BizBuySell (bizbuysell.com) is the largest business brokerage marketing listing service in the world. Steve was a participant on a panel discussing the state of the art marketing procedures for selling businesses with 3 other brokers on the BizBuySell Brokers Advisory Council and BizBuySell’s Marketing Director at the International Association of Business Brokers (IBBA) Conference in Denver.
5. We continue to invest in our aggressive marketing and advertising programs, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year with the following programs.
a. Internet Marketing Activity- all our listings appear on our website (restaurantrealty.com) and all major business and real estate websites.
b. E-newsletters are sent out twice weekly with updated listings sent to over 70,000 buyers in our data base.
c. Social Media -we regularly post our listings and other pertinent information on Facebook (14,000+ followers), LinkedIn (13,000+ followers), Instagram and YouTube, etc.
d. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) -we invest heavily in key words related to our industry so when doing searches RRC pops up throughout the state.
e. Other ongoing marketing programs include as follows:
1) seller referrals from third party brokers & agents, landlords, accountants, attorneys and past buyers and sellers;
2) targeted email marketing campaigns to get added exposure to buyers & sellers;
3) the Restaurant Dealmaker Show (discussed above);
4) Restaurant Rap & Restaurateur of the Quarter articles are published quarterly; and
5) specialized marketing campaigns which allow us to contact potential buyers via print media, direct mail, email and phone.