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Who are today’s buyers and sellers in 2022

By in 2022 - Volume 24

Profiles of Current Buyers and Sellers in Transactions Resulting in the Sale and/or Lease of a  Restaurant, Bar, Other Food Service Business and/or Related Commercial Building completed in 2022

We thought it is important to review the profiles of some of the 2022 buyers and sellers we have completed transactions with to better understand the motivations of buyers and sellers today.  If you are a seller hopefully this article will give you a better idea of who are todays buyers and their backgrounds and what their criteria are for purchasing and/or leasing food and beverage businesses and in some cases the building too.  If you are a buyer, you can review some of the 2022 deals completed as outlined below to study the buyers’ backgrounds and to determine if there are any similar characteristics to yourself in evaluating purchasing opportunities.

Who are today’s buyers? 

Today’s buyers include the following indicated below.

  1. Former restaurant employees that want to be their own boss and control their future destiny and not have their future dictated by someone else.
  2. Employees from other industries who want to be their own boss and control their future.  Frequently in this situation they may pair up with a partner that has food and beverage industry experience.
  3. A family member who buys out an aging relative.
  4. People who leave their corporate job to follow their passion to be in the food and beverage industry.
  5. Unemployed people who lost their positions due to the pandemic.  

Who are today’s sellers? 

Today’s sellers include the following indicated below.

  1. Baby Boomers wanting to retire.
  2. People who want to relocate to be closer to their aging parents.
  3. Some people who were forced to sell due to an economic downturn in their business.
  4. Some people who accumulate a lot of equity in their home and made money in the stock market or other investments and want to relocate to areas where the cost of living is less and they can more bang for their buck.
  5. Partnership disputes either with couples getting divorced or disputes between other partners who can no longer tolerate each other in the business.

Please find below some actual deals we completed in 2022 highlighting the backgrounds of the seller and buyer and their motivations for selling, buying and/or leasing their business.

Sports Bar & Steakhouse in Contra Costa County – This is a well-established restaurant and sports bar that had been in business for nearly 20 years.

  • Seller – His motivation to sell was to retire as he has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years.  He is an active real estate investor and wants to concentrate on his real estate activity.
  • Buyer – He was from a totally different industry but his wife had years of experience in the business and saw the potential to maintain and increase the existing profitable business.

A Small Full-Service Restaurant in Sonoma County – This restaurant was well located on a major thoroughfare and had been recently remodeled.

  • Seller – He was long time chef owner operator and had retired and had closed the restaurant during Covid.
  • Buyer – He is an experienced chef who runs a upscaled catering business in the area and felt this location could both serve as a catering kitchen as well as a limited menu higher priced dinner concept.

A Building with a Restaurant on the Ground Floor and a Large Residential Unit Upstairs in Marin County.  This was a 2-story building in downtown San Rafael.  The first floor was a partially remodeled vacant restaurant and the second floor was a totally remodeled 4 bedrooms, 3 bath residential unit.

  • Seller – He was an offshore owner who bought the building trying to obtain an E-3 visa prior to the pandemic however he abandoned this plan and consequently we sold the building.
  • Buyer – The building buyer is a 35 year plus restaurant owner with two very successful Asian restaurants in San Francisco. He was looking for an investment and had a longtime friend who had a smaller successful Asian restaurant a couple blocks from the subject acquisition and she was looking for a larger restaurant with a residential unit where some of her key employees could live.  The buyer master leased the building with a restaurant and residential unit to this operator.

Closed Smaller Restaurant in San Mateo County – This was formerly a successful barbecue restaurant that had been there for several years but closed during the pandemic.

  • Sellers –They sellers owned several restaurants many of which closed during Covid and they had no desire to reopen as their primary business was real estate brokerage.
  • Buyers – They are well established restaurant owner operators that had a business that specializes in takeout and delivery quality food and are using this location as a commercial kitchen to service their concept.

Bakery and Deli in Monterey County – This was a bakery/deli located in a prime location near the Cannery area in Monterey.

  • Seller – He owns several other well-known large restaurants in the area and there were no economies of scale for him to continue to operate this smaller venue.  He is also the landlord and will continues to be the landlord.
  • Buyer – She owns and operates several quick service Asian restaurants and will convert this operation to her quick service Asian concept.

High End Very Profitable Restaurant in Marin County – This 20-year well-established high-end restaurant is located in one of the higher demographic areas in Marin County.

  • Sellers –The couple that owned and operated this restaurant for over 20 years were tired and want to try a different career.
  • Buyers –They owned their own higher end restaurant out of the country and also had many years of experience in the US managing high end restaurants.  They sold their restaurant out of the country and came back to the US to be with their family and own a business locally.

Closed Smaller Restaurant in an Ocean Front Town in San Mateo CountyThis was a barbeque restaurant on the major downtown street that had opened during the pandemic and closed shortly after they opened as Covid negatively impacted their business.

  • Sellers – They sellers owned several restaurants many of which closed during Covid and they had no desire to reopen as their primary business was real estate brokerage.
  • Buyers – The buyers are from Turkey and have had extensive experience operating Mediterranean restaurants and will convert this restaurant to a Mediterranean restaurant.

Successful Bay Area Pizza Chain Renewed their Lease in San Francisco This was a renewal of lease that had expired with a successful high volume pizza operator in a prime San Francisco location.  

  • Landlord – In order to renew the lease, the landlord had to reduce the rent for a couple of years due to the existing market conditions in the city. The landlord and tenant agreed to a short two-year term with a five-year option with rent to be at fair market rent.
  • Tenant – They are a highly successful high-quality pizzeria with several locations throughout the bay area.  40% of their business was takeout and delivery pre-Covid and from Covid to current they changed their mix to 80% take-out and delivery and 20% in house business while maintaining a high sales volume and high profitability.

Long Established Bar in Los Angeles County – This is a unique bar with one of the largest selection of whiskies in the area with over 300 whiskies, 33 beers on tap and over 100 bottled beers.  In addition to this versatile selection, they have an extensive selection of other liquors and wines.

  • Seller – He owned the bar for over 35 years and wanted to retire.
  • Buyer – He is an attorney and saw the potential to upgrade the operation and he also owned a pizza restaurant in Los Angeles as well as a chain of upscale donut shops in Hungary.

8,000 SF Freestanding Restaurant Leased in San Bernardino – This was a closed Chinese restaurant that operated at this site for over 40 years and they closed in March 2020 due to Covid.

  • Landlord – Is a family who operated a Chinese restaurant per the description above.  The family was very particular with regards to the quality of the tenant including their menu and financial strength.
  • Tenant – We leased the property to a rapidly expanding Mexican cuisine operator for 10 years with an innovative menu and a strong financial statement who plans to spend several hundred thousand dollars remodeling the restaurant.

Taproom in San Diego County – This is upscale taproom and restaurant that opened in 2019 and two thirds of their space is interior space and one third of their space is exterior space.

  • Seller –He is an out of area owner with multiple companies and decided to consolidate his businesses geographically near his home.
  • Buyers –They are experienced managers in the restaurant and craft beer industry and this is their first entry as owners of a restaurant and taproom.

Real Estate with Large Restaurant in Merced – This has been a successful steakhouse in Merced for over 35 years including the real estate.

  • Seller – He sold the business and property as he wanted to retire after operating it for over 35 years.
  • Buyer – He is an extremely successful business man and land owner in Merced, who had always had a passion for the restaurant business.  When this opportunity came up to own the business with the real estate in his home town he jumped at the idea and is currently enjoying his success after making several key employee changes and some renovations.

5 Full-Service Restaurants now at full capacity in San Jose and Monterey – 5 restaurants -1 in San Jose and 4 in Monterey all owned by the same seller for over 20 years.

  • Seller – He was tired after the colossal damage the pandemic had done to his once thriving businesses and he wanted to retire. He built them back to 2019 revenue levels but the time was right to sell.
  • Buyers – 3 of his best and well renowned Monterey restaurants were snapped up by another local restaurant owner to increase their portfolio. 2 of these were highly successful having been in the Seller’s hands for 20+ years, the 3rd was closed during the pandemic but after major renovations is now a busy High St Mexican concept.

Restaurant, Multi Bar and Event Center in Sonora + Real Estate Lying Dormant for 4 years– The seller had built a beautiful facility which consisted of a 14,000 square foot restaurant, multi-bar and event center concept with real estate located in Sonora.

  • Seller – He moved to Florida.
  • Buyers – Local buyers in partnership with the chef and manager who were colleagues from Oregon.  The business is enjoying a successful reopening and are looking forward to hosting the many pent up demand events in the area.

Recently Renovated Boutique Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles Leased – Located in downtown LA in need of a new food and beverage operator. Collaborating RRC agents found the right experienced restaurant tenant who is busy enjoying the reopening of their concept within a 70-bedroomed hotel.

  • Landlord – He lost his prior tenant during Covid and is a real estate investor and not a restaurant operator.
  • Tenant – An experienced restaurateur who owned and operated other restaurants in the area who leased both restaurants in the hotel.

Beautiful Rural Restaurant with Real Estate in Arnold – A successful Italian restaurant operating for over 20 years with the same owner including the real estate.

  • Seller – She was a chef who wanted to spend more time with her family and wanted to retire after operating the business for over 20 years.
  • Buyers – Are local restaurateurs with a similar concept who wanted to increase their local exposure.  Business is flourishing with the new owners who are enjoying the increase in revenue.

Historic Inn Built in 1859 in Jamestown – This historic property is one of the ten oldest lodging properties in California and was built in 1859.  It consists of 9 guest rooms with private baths, a dining room and saloon.

  • Seller – After 48 years of owning and operating the Seller was ready to retire and share time in his local home and beautiful Condo by the sea in Mexico.
  • Buyer – The new owner is an experienced hotel and restaurant owner and has kept the entire staff of employees and the same high-quality of service and outstanding Mediterranean cuisine, too.

A Full Service Bar & Grill Restaurant in Alameda County – This business was well located in downtown Main Street.

  • Seller – He had retired and closed the restaurant during Covid.
  • Buyer – He is an experienced operator who has a similar business in the Oakland area and felt this location would serve him well.

Landmark Mexican Restaurant in Butte County – This is a highly profitable Mexican restaurant we were able to pre-qualify for an SBA loan.

  • Seller – He was a second-generation family-owned business that wanted to retire.
  • Buyer – He was an experienced restaurant owner who ran many businesses in the area and felt this Landmark restaurant was a great deal.

A Pizza Restaurant with Real Estate in Tehama County – This business operated for 27 years and included the real estate.

  • Seller – He wanted to retire and pass on his 27 years of good will to a well-qualified buyer.
  • Buyer – The buyer was an experienced operator who has businesses in the area and felt this location was a great investment.

Small Plates and Catering in Sacramento County – A profitable small plates and catering business.

  • Seller – He sold the business as he wanted to retire.
  • Buyer – He was from a totally different industry but his wife had years of experience in the business and saw the potential to maintain and increase the existing profitable business.

A Small Full-Service Restaurant in Tehama County – A small full-service restaurant.

  • Seller – The seller wanted to retire after many years in the business,
  • Buyer – The buyer is a young experienced chef whose dream was to have his own restaurant. This was a perfect match up.

Pub and Taproom, Sonoma County A pub and taproom that was not doing well.

  • Seller – The seller’s location was not doing well and his wife had her own job.
  • Buyers – A group of young guys that met in college that enjoyed beer and had two other taprooms and are growing. 

Restaurant /Tavern, San Mateo County – A well-known restaurant, tavern and dog friendly business with a large beer garden.

  • Sellers – A husband-and-wife team.  The wife has a background in Real Estate and the husband was a lifelong restaurant professional focusing on the back of house and bartending and wanted to retire.
  • Buyer – The buyer owns two restaurants at the airport and had other prior restaurants and was able to buy this with the help of an investor partner who is in the hotel business.

Quick Serve Restaurant, Santa Clara County This was an asset sale of one location.

  • Seller – He is primarily a real estate investment professional had owned a quick service chain of 3 restaurants.
  • Buyer – A younger guy who had one other restaurant and a catering kitchen.  He was losing the lease at one location and moved the operation to this new location.

Quick Serve Café, Santa Clara CountyA quick service café.

  • Seller – The seller who at one time had two locations and was moving to Texas and starting a family and was pregnant when we closed escrow.
  • Buyer – A young Asian lady was in the tech business, worked for a social media company and wanted to own a business.

Thai Restaurant in Oakland – A successful Thai restaurant.

  • Seller – The Seller had an extensive restaurant career owning and operating Thai restaurants in the East Bay Area. It was time for her to retire and move home to Thailand.
  • Buyers The buyers were a wonderful same-sex couple, in which one partner had a finance background and business experience and the other partner who was Thai was a restaurateur.  The operating partners background meshed well with the concept and team.  They unsuccessfully attempted at acquire other restaurants from 2019 on, which were strained due to unreasonable sellers and/or landlords

Thai Restaurant in Berkeley A successful Thai restaurant in Berkeley

  • Sellers – They wanted to downsize their restaurant group to focus more on some of their newer ventures.
  • Buyer – The agent was happy to introduce his young and enthusiastic buyer client to these sellers. This buyer managed successful Thai restaurants in San Francisco.  She had recently ended a long and stressful attempt to purchase a space in San Francisco, in which the landlord and sellers had a very strained relationship due to the Pandemic and back rents. In the end escrow could not be closed due to the dishonest tenants and frustrated landlord. In the end the agent’s young buyer client were able to get this transaction in Berkley done quickly and smoothly.

Oakland Bar – This long standing, popular and specialized beer bar was put up for sale due to the stresses of the Pandemic. The bar has a perfect layout, neighborhood and clientele for one of Northern California’s more highly rated breweries to pursue this opportunity.

  • Seller – His motivation to sell was based on his desire to work closer to his own neighborhood and the stresses of the pandemic.
  • Buyer – He took over in early 2022, as he saw the opportunity to build this location into a successful tap and tasting room to expand their reach in the Bay Area.  The buyer is one of the top-rated beer makers in the US and is located in the Santa Cruz area.

Bakery/Café in San Rafael – This neighborhood concept had run for over 30 years. The local operator loved his cafe and his patrons, but the Pandemic was hard on him and the business, as he had staffing issues that forced him to limit hours. 

  • Seller As a result of the above issues, he decided it was time to sell.
  • Buyer – She is a well-known local woman who already had a successful home baking business that has long been featured at farmers markets in the North Bay.  For her, it was time to have a larger commercial kitchen space.  This opportunity had a great kitchen layout for baking, and a storefront to also sell to the public.

Sushi Restaurant in Oakland – A well-known sushi restaurant in Oakland that generated a lot of buyer interest.

  • Seller  – The owner of this traditional sushi spot in Oakland had to greatly limit hours during the Pandemic due to lack of dine in traffic and staffing shortages. He was able to lean heavily on take out sales. Given his desire to retire he decided to sell.
  • Buyer – A very successful local Sushi chain saw the opportunity of this location and made the move to purchase and remodel the space.  The pandemic makes available more prime locations, than would have normally hit the market, and this restaurant chain took advantage.

Boba Tea in Menlo Park – She built the beautiful space from scratch in 2019 and opened just prior the Pandemic.  Although grab and go boba was doing fine during the Pandemic, her growing demanding job pushed her to choose to sell the business.

  • Seller This owner’s main career was in tech however she decided to open a boba shop on the side. Given the newness of the business and her desire to sell, the price was very appealing to the incoming buyer and his partner that ended up buying it.
  • Buyer The buyer has a tech background and works for Google and this will be a side project for him and his partner. They are able to deal with the lack of staffing as they are hands on owners, and appreciated they could get into to this newly designed space and new concept for a reasonable price.

Thai Restaurant in SacramentoThe restaurant was formerly a Mexican restaurant which they changed to a Thai restaurant. They took over the restaurant in 2019 and when they opened the Pandemic started. 

  • Seller – The seller was a Thai lady who ran the restaurant with her husband and daughter. The sellers were tired and stressed out and consequently sold the business.
  • Buyer The buyer was a piano teacher who is married to a Thai lady and will continue to run the restaurant as a Thai restaurant.

As indicated above Restaurant Realty’s Agents and Brokers are well equipped to deal with a diversified group of sellers and buyers.

For further information, please contact Principal Broker Steve Zimmerman at steve@restaurantrealty.com or call 888-995-9701.

Now celebrating our 26th year, Restaurant Realty Company® has a successful track record helping over 2,800 clients in completing Hundreds of Millions of Dollars of Business and Real Estate Transactions including the following: Selling/leasing over 1,400 restaurant, bar and/or nightclub businesses, Selling over 60 related commercial buildings,  Leasing over 2.8 Million square feet of commercial space and Completing over 4,500 valuations. The majority of our staff have either owned and/or managed restaurantsOur deep experience as operators means we understand your business from the inside out.
Restaurant Realty has Closed Escrow and/or Leased 200+ Deals since Covid!
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