Advice for Buying a Restaurant and Selling a Restaurant

Buying a Restaurant?  Take this NFL Rookie’s Advice

Posted by Eric Gagnon on Nov 16, 2018 1:45:31 PM

Ever wished you could have gotten an extended trial period for something you bought BEFORE you made the commitment?  What about when you're buying a restaurant?

Dimgray Player Football Icons Photo Collage

For a lot of products, there’s no “drive before you buy” that lasts the length of time you need to discover the flaws.  Can you see yourself going to your local auto dealer and asking them to let you “demo” your dream vehicle for three months before you make the purchase?

Imagine this concept as it relates to your career.  Have you wondered what it would be like to “test” a new job before you resign from your current one?    

Is there a way to test drive the restaurant business?  There is. There are literally thousands of jobs available in the industry.  It’s always been our advice at We Sell Restaurants, that you should work in the industry before buying a restaurant. 

As restaurant brokers, we often see people investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in an industry where they have very little experience.  They buy, only to realize very quickly that this is not the right fit for them. They are now faced with potentially losing a substantial chunk of their initial investment.

What if that same person would have worked as an employee in a similar location before they made the purchase? With the labor pool tightening, restaurant owners are always looking for help.  Why not and go work for someone else on a part-time basis before you go out and spend a large amount of money?

If you are buying a franchise restaurant you are in luck as hopefully there are existing locations nearby to go and see what restaurant life all is about. (Hint:  It is not what you see on Food Network!)

You could even work for a potential competitor before you buy. Some franchisors require potential candidates to work in a store for up to six weeks store as part of the training process before buying a franchise restaurant.

Buying an independent restaurant location? The owner will probably not let you work there if he knows you are interested in purchasing his restaurant (AKA Undercover Boss).  You could go to work at one of the potential competitors or the best independent restaurant in town.  Try as many positions as you can from the front of the house to the back of the house.  Learn the POS system and try your hand at delivery. You will learn a great deal and cash a paycheck as well.  That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

You think this is beneath you or unnecessary?  Look at this young man who made the headlines last week. 

Rookie Colts RB Nyheim Hines worked at a Bojangles over bye week due to his retirement plan

An NFL player is working at Bojangles’s during his week off.  He has a four-year, $3.18 million-dollar rookie paycheck coming in and he’s smart enough to learn the business before investing.  What’s stopping you from doing the same thing during your time off?

I know it’s a lot more fun to look on for restaurants for sale but spending time in real live stores will make you more successful in buying a restaurant.

You may decide once you look under the hood, that the restaurant business is not for you.  If so, you will save a huge amount of money and maybe even fatten your bank account while you’re at it.

You could learn that you have a natural affinity and talent for the industry and change your search from those making money to under performers that need a new look before flipping.  

If it’s good enough for an NFL player pulling down serious money, it seems like a good plan for you in buying a restaurant.

If you are interested in working somewhere before you buy, reach out to We Sell Restaurants.  We may be able to connect you with owners in your area.


Eric Gagnon blog footer


Topics: Buying a Restaurant

We Sell Restaurants says (Uber) is Eating up the competition

Posted by Hannah Eisenband on Nov 9, 2018 5:38:36 PM

Third-party food delivery services have created a billion-dollar industry that restaurants need to consider adding to their businesses. The movers and shakers in the food service delivery business include UberEATS, Postmates and Grub Hub.* These third-party delivery services are an innovative way of bringing restaurant food to customers. If a restaurant is looking to expand their current business and find new ways to generate revenue, these delivery services could be beneficial.

There are positives and negatives to using these delivery services.  If you are buying or selling a restaurant, you should be aware of these.  Benefits include increased sales, absence of delivery liability, labor costs, and free advertising for the restaurant. Disadvantages include high costs and the loss of control of your product. Ultimately, a restaurant must decide if the positive aspects of third-party delivery services outweigh the negative aspects.

Third-party delivery services have shown major growth. Third-party delivery services generated over 3 billion in sales in 2017 (Business Insider). According to CNet, there are over 100,000 restaurants partnering with UberEATS and that number is increasing daily.  Wired reports that UberEATS had a seven-fold increase in sales from 2016 to 2017, with hundreds of thousands of receipts processed through expense service Concur.Eating up the competition

When buying a restaurant, consider what these societal changes will mean to the business you are acquiring.  If you are selling a restaurant, you may consider adding on this volume to make the business more attractive while it is in the sales cycle.

When restaurants use third-party delivery services, they avoid liability and the labor costs of a hired delivery driver. The average commercial insurance cost per delivery vehicle can cost between $750 to $1,200 per year (How Much). By utilizing these different delivery services, a restaurant can avoid these fees. If a business has a delivery driver, they will be paying the driver by the hour, regardless of the number of orders they deliver. By using these applications, the restaurant will avoid any unneeded expenses.

UberEATS, Door Dash, Grub Hub, and the other food delivery systems have created a large marketing platform in their communities. Customers are drawn to these applications because of the large diversity of restaurants and the appeal of trying new restaurants they may not have had time to try. By being a part of these delivery applications, restaurants will receive name recognition. Once trying the restaurants through delivery, it could entice consumers to go into the restaurants in person after a positive delivery experience.

While there are many positive aspects of utilizing third-party delivery services, it is important to remember the drawbacks. Something that concerns all restaurant owners is the loss of margin. According to the New York Post, the service companies will take between 12 to 30 percent cut of the gross from each order. That does not include the $5 delivery fee to customers.  Before committing to a service, a restaurant must know exactly how much the delivery service company will charge. Then, review their Profit and Loss statement and analyze the impact it will have on their restaurant. It might be worth the service charge to add incremental sales that do not raise labor costs. If these sales come with increased labor cost it might not be worth it. Each situation must be analyzed individually.

A qualified restaurant broker will look at the impact of delivery on your profit and loss statement when working with you on buying or selling a restaurant.  Will the future margins be lowered by the impact of delivery sales? Will the net sales increase and if so, at what cost?

Another consideration for restaurant owners is related to quality control.  Once a delivery driver picks up the food, the restaurant loses control of what happens. A common fear is being the first pickup and the last delivery. This can lead customers to think poorly on the food and give a bad reflection to the restaurant. Additionally, although the delivery drivers were not hired by the restaurant, they represent the restaurant to the guest.

In my opinion, each restaurant should analyze their own operations and determine if third-party delivery services would be beneficial. While these services are free, they do come at a price.

Interested in looking at restaurants for sale featuring delivery models?  Visit our full inventory online at this link.

Hannah Eisenband blog footer


*Dependent on the region your restaurant is located

Topics: Buying a Restaurant

We Sell Restaurants Reminds Veterans which Franchise Restaurants are Offering Freebies for Veterans Day

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Nov 6, 2018 8:51:06 AM

It’s that time of year again where Americans celebrate those who have served this country in the military. Sunday, November 11 is Veterans Day (though it will be observed by banks and the postal service as Monday).  Many of the franchise restaurants and corporate owned stores we represent at We Sell Restaurants are offering veterans a free meal or discounted service. We looked online and found over 80 that we listed below.  We're sure there are even more.  For those who sign up to spend months away from their families securing our freedoms, this seems like a nominal gift.

Flag Photo Veteran Day Facebook PostThese are the franchise restaurants and independent and corporate stores we’re aware of (though there may be more) who will be offering either discounts or free meals to veterans and active duty military personnel.  If you are in a restaurant next week where this offer isn’t in place, you could always offer to take care of the check on behalf of those who take care of our freedom.

Active duty military and veterans with ID will get free or discounted meals at most of the following. Confirm locally before ordering.  Offers usually do not include alcohol or gratuity and can’t be combined with other discounts or coupons.  Check with the individual franchise restaurants listed below for the specific offers which range from free entrees up to a certain price point or a complimentary item from a fixed menu.

Here’s the list of franchise restaurants we’ve put together so far at We Sell Restaurants.  The exciting news is that this list is so extensive ranging from a free draught beer at World of Beer to full complimentary meals at Chili’s Bar and Grill.  If you know of others, post them in the comments section of our blog. Let’s get the word out so our veterans get a meal on the house! 

  • 54th Street
  • Acapulco Restaurant Y Cantina
  • Applebee’s
  • Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar
  • Back Yard Burgers
  • Bagger Dave’s
  • Bakers Square.
  • Bar Louie.
  • BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse
  • Boston Market
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Cattlemens Steakhouse.
  • Chevys Fresh Mex
  • Chicken Salad Chick
  • Chickie’s & Pete’s
  • Chili’s Grill & Bar
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Chompie’s
  • City Barbeque
  • Claim Jumper Restaurants
  • Cotton Patch Café
  • Country Cookin
  • Cracker Barrell Old Country Store
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Eat’n Park
  • El Torito
  • El Torito Grill
  • Famous Dave’s
  • Farmer Boys
  • Fatz Southern Kitchen
  • Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
  • Fogo de Chao
  • Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
  • Friendly’s
  • Glory Days Grill
  • Gold Star Chili
  • Golden Corral
  • Green Mill Restaurant and Bar
  • Grub Burger Bar
  • Hamburger Stand
  • Hickory Tavern
  • Hooters
  • Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea Company
  • Hy-Vee
  • Jon Smith Subs
  • K&W Cafeteria
  • Kolache Factory
  • Kinds Family Restaurant
  • LaMar’s Donuts
  • Little Caesars
  • Logan’s Roadhouse
  • Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
  • Main Event
  • Max & Erma’s
  • McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks
  • McGrath’s Fish House
  • Melt Shop
  • Menchi’s Frozen Yogurt
  • Mimi’s Café
  • Native Grill & Wings
  • Nekter Juice Bar
  • Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub
  • O’Charley’s Restaurant + Bar
  • On the Boarder
  • Pilot Flying J
  • Primanti Bros.
  • Red Lobster
  • Red Robin Gagnon
  • RibCrib BBQ & Grill
  • Rock & Brews
  • Romano’s Macaroni Grill
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Sagebrush Steakhouse
  • Scoter’s Coffee
  • Shane’s Rib Shack
  • Shoney’s
  • Sizzler
  • Spaghetti Warehouse
  • Taco Mac
  • Tap House Grill
  • Texas Coral
  • Texas de Brazil
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • Wienerschnitzel
  • Wild Wing Café
  • WingHouse Bar & Grill
    World of Beer

Remember to take a moment and thank a veteran you know or someone you see in uniform this Veteran’s Day or any day.  Better yet, step up and buy them a meal.  It’s the least we can do

Topics: Restaurants for Sale

Franchise Restaurant Sales Announced Nationwide

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Oct 30, 2018 9:21:53 AM

Where are the latest franchise restaurant sales taking place and what are the new store openings planned in the industry?  We Sell Restaurants has been tracking the deals across the nation from press releases, announcements and online posts. 

We’ve assembled the latest openings here which includes everything from healthy food concepts to artery clogging Mac and Cheese. Pizza and pasta had a big month while both emerging concepts and well-established brands add a lot of units.  From emerging concepts to those that are well-established, these are the franchise restaurant sales you should know about.  We Sell Restaurants has scoured the press releases and online announcements to bring you the deals we've see hit this month.

Six new units of Tropical Smoothie Cafe are in the works with owners Kevin and Mike Couchman. They have signed a deal to develop the stores in Ohio and are starting in Columbus in the summer of 2019. The team currently operates 17 Jet’s Pizza franchise locations.

15 new Dunkin' Donuts units have been inked for development in Colorado along with three multi-brand stores with both the Dunkin/Baskin-Robbins brands. existing franchisee group Sizzling Donuts will develop seven Dunkin' locations around Denver, with the first slated to open in 2019.

  • A brand new franchisee group Avalanche Coffee, LLC signed a four-unit deal to bring three Dunkin' and one Dunkin'/Baskin-Robbins units to Evergreen and areas further west toward the Rocky Mountains.
  • Colorado Coffee Company, LLC, led by existing 'zee Josh Blanchard, signed a four-unit agreement to open Dunkin' stores throughout the Denver area.
  • Lastly, First Cup, LLC franchisee group has a two-unit agreement for one Dunkin' and one Dunkin'/Baskin-Robbins to open in Montrose and Grand Junction. Existing franchisee Douglas Redman signed for an additional Dunkin'/Baskin-Robbins location in Denver.

That's a lot of franchise activity for Colorado where it appears Dunkin Donuts is serious about expansion.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is heading north of the border.  The largest barbecue franchise in the world, announced they will expand into the Canadian market for the first time in late 2019, bringing Texas barbecue to 20 stores in Edmonton, Alberta, Calgary, Alberta, Regina, Saskatchewan and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  This is after opening their first international locations in Abu Dhabi recently.  In addition to expanding into Canada and across the Middle East, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is opening six new locations in October across the U.S., including Hawaii for the first time.

I love MacI Heart Mac & Cheese, a fast-casual concept specializing in customizable, made-to-order macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and specialty salads has sold three brick-and-mortar stores in South Florida to Hector Gonzalez, the company’s former general manager.  The first store is slated to open February 2019 and will be located at the Shoppes of Deerfield Beach at W. Hillsboro Boulevard and Powerline Road. The two remaining stores will open in 2019.

B.GOOD, a concept billing itself as "the industry pioneer in providing great tasting, locally sourced burgers, bowls, salads, smoothies and more," has announced the opening of three new stores in the Chicago metropolitan area.  These are their first stores in the Midwest.  The farm-to-table restaurant will open its doors in Vernon Hills in late October, followed by openings in Schaumburg and Naperville in mid-December.  the Boston-based company proudly serves “Food with Roots” – sustainably-grown, fresh and wholesome food prepared fresh in-house.

B.GOOD currently has 70 locations across the globe, with more than 50 in the U.S. alone and additional openings slated in the greater Albany and Charlotte markets later this year.

Jon Smith Subs, a restaurant serving hot, grilled subs featuring high-quality marinated sirloin steak and chicken, is opening at 9375 Emerald Coast Parkway West in Miramar Beach, Florida.  The brand offers freshly prepared subs, sandwiches, and award-winning crispy fries.  Jon Smith Subs, has 16 locations in Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia with 15 upcoming openings in 7 different states.

MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes, owned by seasoned franchisee and Ben & Jerry’s Orlando CEO Tareq Qarman, is moving into a 4,200 square foot space formally optioned by Hogan’s Beach Shop in Orlando’s Mango’s Tropical Cafe in 2019.  Voted Best Nightclub, Best Latin, Best Place to Celebrate, Best Live Music, Dinner Show of the Year and countless other recognitions, Mango’s Tropical Café Orlando is the largest restaurant, banquet facility and nightclub destination in the Southeast and International Drive’s newest, award-winning dining, entertainment and dance club with live entertainment nightly.   

 Chicken Salad Chick is showing strong activity with multiple openings.  The are expanding to Arkansas with their newest restaurant in Jonesboro, marking the brand’s first location in the state. The company grew its unit-count by 27 percent in 2017 and is continuing that momentum this year by expanding the concept into four new states including, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri..

The Jonesboro restaurant is owned and operated by first-time Chicken Salad Chick franchisee and Arkansas native Melissa Hardcastle of NEA Chick, LLC. Hardcastle has decades of experience managing operations and business development across a variety of industries. 

Chicken Salad Chick also announced expansion into Texas with its newest restaurant in Spring. The new restaurant marks the brand’s first in the Houston area, with a second restaurant in Conroe near The Woodlands and a third Houston location slated to open next year. Located at 21630 Kuykendahl Road, the Spring restaurant will open on November 7th and is owned and operated by franchisee team Jake Alleman and Cody Gielen of Cojak Enterprises, LLC.

Chicken saladChicken Salad Chick is also expanding in Tennessee with its second location in the Knoxville area, marking the brand’s 10th location in the state. Chicken Salad Chick has continued to establish Tennessee as a prime market for expansion, with this new location coming on the heels of restaurant openings in Spring Hill, Memphis and Knoxville earlier this year. Located at 726 Watkins Road, the Maryville restaurant opened in early October.

Chicken Salad Chicks isn't the only concept growing.  Cowboy Chicken, the Dallas-based rotisserie chain known for its wood-fired chicken and handmade side dishes, opened in Bakersfield California in October.  TEXACAL Foods owners and operations partners Roche and Phil Fontes joined with Cal Capitol Investment Group’s Daniel and Doug Shaffer to bring the growing Cowboy Chicken brand to the Golden State. Born and raised in Bakersfield, both Fontes and the Shaffers still live in the area and look forward to doing business in their community. Roche, an industry veteran and California native, experienced Cowboy Chicken in Texas while at lunch with a friend and instantly fell in love with the great food and the friendly atmosphere. TEXACAL Foods and Cowboy Chicken have signed the largest franchise agreement to date, with 30 Cowboy Chicken locations planned across California.

From chicken to bars, breweries and alcohol themed concepts, a few locations with a strong emphasis on alcohol are opening or planned as franchise restaurant sales are announced nationwide. 

walk onBrusly, Louisiana is the site of the newest Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar.  The popular Baton Rouge-based brand opened an 8,100 square foot restaurant in early October.  Walk-On’s is renowned for its signature Louisiana-inspired menu.  This is the 24th store for the brand. Following a record-breaking year of franchise expansion, Walk-On’s has captured the top spot in two categories of Technomic’s 2018 Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report.

Old Chicago Pizza & taproom, a full-service restaurant known for its world class beer list full of local and regional craft beer offerings, combined with its delicious, hand crafted pizza and taproom fare, opened its latest location in Columbus Georgia this month.  The new store is at 6581 Whittlesey Blvd. This is the first Old Chicago in Georgia and the 109th location nationwide.

The Brass Tap is expanding its presence in Texas, signing a five-unit deal in Dallas.  Franchisee Sid Patel, who currently owns a Brass Tap location in Allen, Texas, will own and operate the new locations and has plans for more. Patel owned and operated a beer and wine shop in McKinney, Texas before signing on with The Brass Tap, making the jump to franchising when he realized the rate at which Dallas-area craft breweries were appearing.

Pizza and Italian are definitely expanding with announcements from Pizza Inn, Mountain Mike's, Pie Five, Fazoli's and Stoner's Pizza, all announcing growth in units.

Mountain Mike’s Pizza,  a leading California-based family-style pizza chain known for serving “Pizza the way it oughta be! ®,” has announced it has reached a major milestone with the opening of its 200thunit. The milestone location is in Sacramento, where the brand currently has 20 restaurants. With 12 new restaurants opened in multiple markets this year and four slated to open within the next few weeks, the Mountain Mike’s system has accelerated its growth pace and has plans to surpass 300 units within the next few years.

Pizza Inn has re-opened its doors in Lewisville Texas.  Robert and Denise Wrestler, first time franchisees opened the store earlier this month.  This is the Wrestler’s first restaurant and first-time franchising. Denise has 15 years of experience in the medical device field and Robert has been in finance for 20 years. They have been working with Pizza Inn to bring the restaurant back since 2016.

 Pie Five Pizza today announced that the fast-casual pizza chain has executed an Area Development Agreement with two new franchisees, set to open restaurants in Murphy and Prosper, Texas, later this year.

Charlie Clark of Pie Squared Investments Murphy, LLC signed an agreement to bring Pie Five to Murphy, Texas. Clark has several years of restaurant experience, including working with well-known pizza brands Mr. Jim’s Pizza and Cicis Pizza. Clark owned a Mr. Jim’s in Sherman, Texas, for 12 years and has managed three Cicis Pizza locations. Clark’s Pie Five restaurant is expected to open in November at 109 Murphy Road.

Shelia Afzal of Goldberg Funding, LLC signed an agreement to bring Pie Five to Prosper, Texas. Goldberg Funding owns five other Pie Five restaurants in the DFW metroplex in addition to franchising other restaurant concepts in the Dallas area. Prosper’s new Pie Five is projected to in December.

Fazoli’s, a QSR Italian chain, has announced the signing of two multi-unit development agreements for eight new locations in Georgia and Arkansas.  The brand is capitalizing on recent momentum and record-breaking performances of grand openings across the country. The company has successfully opened nine new restaurants this year, with the most recent being a conversion of a former Ruby Tuesday’s in Prattville, Alabama. They are on track to achieve the highest number of openings in nearly 10 years.


The Georgia stores are being developed by Lamont Brooks and his partners at Arriba Restaurant Group.  They are current and former multi-unit and multi-concept owners of Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Burger King, Fuddruckers and Quiznos throughout the U.S. and South America. The group plans to open their first of five restaurants in the first half of 2019, targeting Snellville, Gainesville and Peachtree City for development, with further plans to develop the concept in the future.

Junior Das, Linda Bradley and Andy Patel of Pasta Joint, LLC signed a three-unit deal agreement to further expand the concept throughout Central Arkansas, targeting the Benton, Conway and Searcy areas for development. Local residents of Jonesboro and multi-concept franchise owners, the group has a combined 25+ years of foodservice and hospitality experience, the group’s current portfolio includes Dairy Queen, Smoothie King, Schlotzsky’s, Perkins and Uncle Maddio’s Pizza. The new franchisees plan to open their first of three locations in 2019, with continued development efforts over the course of the next few years.

An emerging brand, Stoner's Pizza Joint has announced six locations in Texas as part of its first development deal since launching the franchise brand in July.  The stores will be operated by Hafeez Dhanani and business partner Rezwan Mirza of the DhaMir Group, franchisees of the Burger King brand.  stoners pizza

Founded in 2013, Stoner’s Pizza Joint was recently purchased by the experienced restaurateurs behind HHI Hospitality, which owns and operates several proprietary restaurant concepts in Hilton Head, South Carolina, including Charbar Company and ¡Holy Tequila!, among others. The partners have spent the last few months preparing Stoner’s Pizza Joint to launch its national franchise opportunity. Currently, Stoner’s Pizza Joint has six corporate locations throughout Georgia and South Carolina. By the end of 2018, Stoner’s Pizza Joint plans to have three franchised locations in development, as well as ten additional commitments secured.

While Americans still show their love for pizza, healthy concepts continue momentum as well.  Nékter Juice Bar, the pioneering champion of the modern juice bar movement, has signed its largest Area Development agreement with 2nd Harvest LLC to open 30 restaurants during the next few years in existing markets of Florida and Tennessee and in two new markets, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Based in Miami, 2nd Harvest LLC plans to open its first Nékter Juice Bar in Florida by the end of Q1 2019.

The multi-state franchise agreement comes as Nékter Juice Bar continues to grow rapidly across the country. Now with 120 restaurants across 13 states, Nékter plans to open an additional 20 restaurants before the end of this year, with another 75 scheduled to open in 2019, and an additional 175 in varying stages of development.

Based in Miami, 2nd Harvest is led by three fitness and wellness industry veterans, Gerry Norman, Jon Norman and C.J. Bouchard. Bouchard is the current COO of Excel Fitness Holdings, which controls more than 60 Planet Fitness locations in Texas, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Previously, he was an operating partner of 17 Planet Fitness locations in North Carolina and a co-owner of Zaniac Learning Center also in North Carolina. Jon and Gerry Norman were successful Planet Fitness franchisee owners in Miami, Florida.

Other announcement include openings and franchise restaurant sales from Dickey's Barbecue Pit, Urban Wok and Peno Grill.

Long time Dickey’s Barbecue Pit franchisee, Rob Ray, opened his third Dickey’s location in Pearland, Texas this Fall. Originally from Louisiana, Rob, has brought two Dickey’s Barbecue Pit locations to the Bayou area. He and his two investors have loved watching their business grow and wanted to open more locations in the Houston area.

urban wokUrban Wok has announced the opening of its St. Paul, Minnesota location.  The store opened in the Lowertown neighborhood of St. Paul and features an approachable menu of Asian-inspired cuisine. Their technology features include self-ordering kiosks through a partnership with Toast in addition to text-based communications with guests when their order is ready.  Announced as a menu built on "simplicity, customization and flexibility to give customers complete control of the dish they want to create."  The menu consists of nine signature sauces and hot sauces that are made from scratch and in-house daily, and a proprietary sauce blend. The Urban Wok will operate in a completely cash-free environment and will accept credit cards and mobile payments. 

Peno Mediterranean Grill, or Peno Grill, opened their latest unit in Jacksonville, NC only days after the devastation from one of the worst hurricanes to hit the region in decades. Their Charlotte, North Carolina location is also on the verge of opening.  Peno Mediterranean Grill is based out of Wilmington, NC and has been rapidly expanding across North and South Carolina. The new Peno franchisees in Jacksonville are two retired Marines, Mike and Ed and their wives, Judi and Ina.

Overall, franchise restaurant sales show continued strong growth and commitment to capital on the part of franchisees.  What does that say about the overall health of the industry?  While sales are inching up, new competitors and new units seem willing to push onto the scene and either disrupt existing market share or carve more customers. 

Are you in the market for a franchise restaurant?  Check out our listings online at this link.


Topics: Buying a Restaurant

Master the Art of Leasing A Restaurant with These Ten Tips

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Oct 23, 2018 3:57:53 PM

Tip One – Don’t Talk to the Guy on the Sign – He represents the landlord.

 When leasing a restaurant, it’s tempting to drive past the newest center or latest sign and make a call on the space.  Take a moment and consider who that person represents before hitting send. Landlords employ leasing agents to represent their interests, not those of the would-be tenants. It’s best to make sure you have your own representation. 

Is it fair to make the first call, get excited about the space and then send in your broker?  Not really.  Just work with a reputable restaurant broker and have him or her make the first outreach on any space.  They know the landlord language, math and standard deal terms.  

Tip Two – Don’t get trapped by TI money or Tenant Improvement Money when leasing a restaurant without understanding the cost.

It’s tempting to believe that Tenant Improvement Money or TI money is free to you.  These are funds that the landlord repays you for the investment you make in the space for the build out.  There will never be enough money in tenant improvement funds to build out a space.  It’s a contribution by the landlord, not the entire cost.

Be careful not to get so excited by a large tenant improvement number that you forget to do the math on the back end.  We see many operators in very high cost leases because the TI money gets built back into the rent over time. Just think of it like borrowing money with the payment built into the rent over a very long (lease) instead of loan term.Mastering the art

Tip Three – Make key date contingent on permitting and things beyond your control.

It’s a good idea to make your rent commencement date (something entirely different from the lease start date), upon issuance of certain permits or licenses.  That way, if you get blocked by city hall or must wait four months to even get a permit to swing a hammer, you’re not paying rent on space where you’re not selling food.

Tip Four – Limit the personal guarantee to the extent you can when leasing a restaurant.

Everyone wants to avoid a personal guarantee where possible but that’s not always an option.  Instead of trying to wish it away, negotiate the terms.  Make sure the lease is assignable and when assigned, your liability is gone.  Constrict the personal guarantee to a limited number of years or certain amount of on-time rent payments.  The key here is to negotiate BEFORE signing a lease.  That’s when you have the most leverage.

Tip Five – Go for multiple smaller terms and options versus a single long-term lease to limit your liability.

Leasing a restaurant is a multi-year commitment but break these terms up over time.  Consider that the area, the market, the business or your success may change over the course of the lease.  Never go into a ten-year lease when you can get a five-year lease and a five-year option.  If it’s possible to get a three-year, go for that.  Why?  When it comes time to exercise your option, you can say, “no thank you,” and move on rather than be stuck in a long-term agreement liability for all the remaining years on the lease.

Tip Six – Cap your CAMS when leasing a restaurant.

Plenty of people will tell you that it’s impossible to negotiate the CAMS, Taxes and Insurance when leasing a restaurant but it’s certainly possible to cap them.  You don’t know what the future will hold so guard against continual increases by stating you are only liable for a single year increase of no more than ten percent or something similar.

You’ll never have as much leverage with the landlord than at the outset of the relationship.  This is when you need to use everything you must control your overall occupancy costs in the years ahead.  

Tip Seven – Limit your requirement to pay based on occupancy when leasing a restaurant.

Don’t be the last remaining ghost occupying a space after everyone moves out, unless the rent is so inexpensive it doesn’t matter to you.  Write an occupancy clause into your lease that states that if the center drops below a certain threshold of leased spaces or if the anchor tenant vacates or similar, you get a substantial drop in rent.  Landlords are likely to give you this one as they never expect their center to go dark or their anchor tenant to leave.  If it happens, you’re protected.  Don’t overlook this tip.  Other tenants drive traffic to the center.  Without them, your business will be affected.  

Tip Eight – If you’re leasing a restaurant, use a Restaurant Broker, not a general commercial broker.  

A new restaurant space or even an existing one, requires the knowledge of an expert.  A general broker won’t understand or have specialized knowledge in grease traps or vent hoods along with local codes.  He or she may not understand permitting requirements, particularly those for alcohol, that would make this space a non-starter.  They will not know how many more tons of HVAC is required for a restaurant space versus retail since cooking and the body counts dramatically increase heat and lower air movement. 

It’s worth it to have an expert on hand, particularly since the landlord is usually the one picking up the check.  Commissions are rarely paid by buyers leasing a restaurant space.

Tip Nine – Don’t overlook an asset sale. 

An asset sale is an existing restaurant that may not be performing well today but can easily convert to your concept.  By acquiring someone else’s business instead of leasing a restaurant, you can often assume the remaining term at under market rates.  Modify the build out and you’re ready to go.

Tip Ten – Don’t Bite Off More than You Can Chew when Leasing a Restaurant

What does this mean?  It’s easier to grow into a larger space or do more delivery and catering from something slightly smaller than it is to pay the rent on a space that’s too large.  This is the single largest mistake we see in those leasing a restaurant.  Estimate what you need and then LOWER it.  In particular, with take out and delivery services reducing bodies in seats, restaurants today need much less space than even five years ago.  Err on the side of smaller, not larger.

That’s it.  Our ten top tips on leasing a restaurant space.  Use these techniques and you should save yourself some money and get the best possible space for your business.  Need some help leasing a restaurant?  Reach out to the team at We Sell Restaurants.  We can help.


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Topics: Leasing a Restaurant

How likely are you recommend We Sell Restaurants to a friend ?

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Oct 17, 2018 5:16:17 PM

If you're in the market for buying or selling a restaurant, a simple metric may tell you what you need to know about the services of our company, We Sell Restaurants.  Established for more than 17 years, we focus on selling more restaurants than anyone else nationwide.  How do we accomplish that goal?  We strive to create a customer service experience that turns clients into raving fans.   

For two years, we have tracked our Net Promoter Score.  A net promoter score is a measure of the response to the simple question, “how likely are you to recommend We sell Restaurants to a friend or colleague?” The responses are used to calculate our Net Promoter Score or NPS. 

According to Harvard Business School, the NPS is a customer loyalty metric that measures customers' willingness to not only return for another purchase or service but also make a recommendation to their friends, family or colleagues. 

The Actual NPS Calculation

The calculation is simple and standard whether it's used in the business brokerage industry, retail or technical support.  Respondents simply answer the question on a scale of 0 - 10.  The same question is asked each time with simply a substitution of the brand name.  For our brand, we ask everyone who participates in a closing as either a buyer or seller, "How likely is it that you would recommend We Sell Restaurants to a friend or colleague?"
The responses are grouped based on the methodology as shown below.

Answer 9 - 10 and you're what's known as a Promoter.  That makes you a loyal enthusiast who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth for our brand.

Answer 7 - 8 and the methodology categorizes you as a Passive. These are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.

If you answer anywhere lower than this, in the range of 0 - 6, you're known as a Detractor.  Detractors are unhappy customers who can damage any brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

The math is simple.

Subtract the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters to yield the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter).


How does We Sell Restaurants Stack Up? We're at 56.

NPS for Blog

That puts our score in the top 50-75% of all companies using the metric.  Scores higher than 0 are typically considered to be good and scores above 50 are considered to be excellent.

We also ask our customers to write to tell us why they gave the scores.  Here are some of the latest remarks:

"Scott Ruby helped us with the sale of our Little Caesars -- could not have asked for a better broker -- above and beyond expectations -- rare to find and very appreciated -- thank you!!"

"I had interviewed several brokers. When I spoke to David Duce and instantly felt he was an advocate for me not just a mediator of a transaction. He treated me the way I would treat a seller."

"Robin and her staff were very professional to work with."

"The agent was AWESOME!!!! Super knowledgeable, aggressive, helpful, and friendly. I wish I had other things to use him for."

Topics: Selling a Restaurant, Buying a Restaurant

5 Surefire Ways to Keep from Selling Your Restaurant

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Oct 9, 2018 1:28:14 PM

Ignore the Broker’s Advice for Listing Price

The first piece of advice to ignore if you want to keep from selling your restaurant is to ignore the broker’s advice for the listing price.  A Certified Restaurant Broker has the experience, the knowledge, comparative analysis and sales to support the listing price he is providing to you. 

This important reliance on comparable sales and lending approvals tells him what the business will sell or lend for in today’s market.  Join this with years of experience and he or she is most often, setting the correct pricing.

5 Surefire Ways to Keep from Selling Your Restaurant

As the seller, you’re relying on what you “need” or “want” for the business. Buyers are not interested in what you need from the sale or what you want for the business.  They are interested in obtaining a business in line with current market conditions for similar businesses with comparable earnings.

When you tell him or her that even though it should be listed at $225,000, you want to list at $270,000, you’re setting up a scenario that will keep from selling your restaurant.  This is the first rule to put in place if you want to delay a sale and set yourself up for disappointment.

Forget about Operations Once Your Business is Listed

Taking your eye off the ball is never a good idea, especially when selling your restaurant.  Just because it’s listed with a Restaurant Broker doesn’t mean the deal is done.  Typically, you have months of waiting before the closing takes place.  It’s not the time to slack off, in fact, it’s time to up your game.  You will have buyers visiting as secret shoppers and determining if they want to move forward. 

We coach buyers to understand that they are always buying a work in progress and any improvements will lead to a better bottom line for them.  However, if last years’ service record was impeccable and you’re shorting people on night shift to save a few pennies, it will show.  That leads to buyer questions.  Buyer questions lead to negotiated deal terms and ultimately, impacts the value of your business.  Keep the operations at the same level as prior to listing your restaurant for sale to get the best offers.

Forget About Driving Sales; They Don’t Matter that Much, do They?

Another surefire way to torpedo a sale and keep from selling your restaurant is to start posting negative sales comps.  Positive sales are a requirement, not a suggestion.  Above all, stop the bleeding somehow, if you start heading into negative sales territory. 

As restaurant brokers, we work with lenders who want explanations or deny loans because of sales trending.  Strong restaurant brokers can help a seller craft the right message about why the trend is dropping and help save a deal.

A better option is to never put yourself in this box unless you’re not that interested in selling your restaurant. Figure out a way, whether through promotions, advertising, delivery, catering or somehow, to get your sales posted in positive territory until the restaurant is sold.

Stop Paying your Taxes

Here’s another favorite if you want to be certain to stop all the momentum for selling your restaurant.  Begin ignoring the tax man and the payments for payroll or sales tax.  If you think these items are not going to surface before the closing, you are dead wrong.  All attorneys preparing closing documents should be doing a UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) lien searches.  That will usually uncover any unpaid debts and liens.  Since taxing authorities are usually the first to file, these liens will show up. 

Any liens will have to be paid out of the closing or settled in some manner before you can sell your restaurant.  The fact that the liens exist also raises serious doubts in the mind of any buyer.  Can you be trusted if you don’t pay your taxes?  What other bills might surface?  Even if a buyer wouldn’t be liable for any unpaid bills, this tactic introduces doubt.  This breeds distrust which leads to deals falling apart.

Pay your bills and pay your taxes if you are selling your restaurant.  Avoid making payments and you’ve set up a surefire way to drum up to lose a deal on top of wasted penalties and interest.  

Be Less Than Honest, About Anything

There’s really nothing you can tell a restaurant broker that he hasn’t heard before.  What they can’t help with is what they do not know.  If a pipe breaks and you close the restaurant for two weeks while it’s in contract, that’s a very material matter that should be disclosed.  If your wife caught you with the night manager in a compromising position, it’s embarrassing and should be no one’s business but your own.  However, if a buyer is likely to hear about it, the broker should know.  Any situation can be managed if the broker is in the loop.  Be less than honest or hide something and it will certainly surface.  That’s another surefire way to keep from selling your restaurant.

There are, unfortunately, many ways to sabotage the sale of your restaurant.  Avoid these for a successful transfer.  Need help selling your restaurant?  Reach out to us at the link below.

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Topics: Selling a Restaurant

Casting Call -- Flip Your Restaurants - Contact We Sell Restaurants Today!

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Oct 3, 2018 1:49:59 PM

A major cable TV network has reached out to We Sell Restaurants seeking restaurants ready for an overhaul.  Are you buying a restaurant or selling a restaurant that's ready for prime time?  This could be the time to get noticed on national TV and have someone else pick up the bill. 

It appears this is a “makeover” or “before and after” type show that will take an existing concept and make a pretty significant change.  We're thinking this is Bar Rescue for restaurants.  Their flyer asks restaurant owners facing these situations to get in touch.   

  • Is your restaurant barely getting by?
  • Are you talented and have mad skills but struggling to bring it all together? 
  • Do you want to rehab your concept and reinvent your restaurant?.

Autumn Open House Photo Social Media Graphic

What do you think?  They want to film for roughly two weeks this fall, and they will invest between $25,000 and $100,000 depending on the size of your restaurant. On the plus side, this seems like a great opportunity for mom and pop restaurants for sale looking for a new design.  We're not sure what the final program will look like, but they are certainly investing in the concept.

What’s the downside?  We don’t know who the talent for the show is yet.  The mysterious flyer leaves that part out of the deal.  What if you’re a long running seafood restaurant in a small rural area and they want to change you into a big city style steakhouse?

Is it work the risk?  We say, go for it!  What’s the risk to have a conversation, send in some photos and see what develops.

What if you’re buying a new restaurant with the help of We Sell Restaurants?  This could be a win for you as well.  You get the experience and assistance of big players who want to make this look as good as possible to air on national TV.  If you’re launching a new concept, this could be the ideal situation to create buzz for your new restaurant and find yourself with a huge PR win out of the gate.

Interested in knowing more?  We are too!  We hope one of our many restaurant buyers or sellers end up on this show and we’ll be cheering for you every step of the way.  Contact the restaurant brokers and we'll put you through the network producing hit shows like these. 

  • Ayesha's Home Kitchen
  • Cajun Aces
  • Cake Boss.

Buying a restaurant and having someone else pick up the bill for the redesign and re-branding sounds like a great idea to us. What do you think?  

If you want us to connect you reach out to this email address and we'll pass along your interest. 


Topics: Selling a Restaurant

5 Worst Things to Leave out of a Contract for Selling a Restaurant

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Sep 28, 2018 4:22:57 PM

If you are selling a restaurant there are some items that absolutely must be included in the language of any contract and agreed to by the parties up front.  These  items can mean the difference in getting to the closing table and seeing a deal crash and burn.

The starting point is the price.  Once that’s agreed to, it should be easier, right?  Unfortunately, not.  The brokers at We Sell Restaurants make sure all the following items are covered to keep deals both in contract and moving to the closing table.  That’s why 90 percent of our contracts ultimately close and fund versus an industry standard of less than one in three.

These are the deal breakers that show up at the last minute to wreck a contract. Don’t let it happen to you.  No matter who drafts the agreement, these are the must include, can’t forget, better remember, make sure you have, items that should be part of any agreement.

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The Equipment List –

For those selling a restaurant, you may have forgotten those times your beleaguered restaurant broker begged you, called you, texted you and hounded you for an accurate equipment list.  What he ended up with may not bear a strong resemblance to what is in the store today.  Why does it matter?  When it comes to an asset purchase agreement, the buyer will hold you to the equipment list attached to the contract. 

The equipment list reflects the assets transferring from the seller to the buyer and it must be accurate, or you will be held to account for it when selling a restaurant.

You don’t have two slicers any longer?  Better not put two on the equipment list or the buyer is within his rights to request the second one on the day of closing.  The Ice Maker is leased, not owned?  Better be prepared to pay off the lease on this piece of equipment.  If you have personal items in the store, they absolutely do not belong on the list of assets if you’re not prepared to part with them on closing day.  Bottom line.  If you’re selling a restaurant, get the equipment list right or it will bite you on closing day.

Assignment Fees, Transfer Fees, Attorney Fees –

Landlords often charge assignment fees to transfer a lease to a new party.  These can range from $500 to a percentage of the purchase price, an astonishingly large number.  Who should pay – the buyer or the seller?  If this is not defined in the purchase agreement, it can derail a deal.  A landlord will often not proceed on an assignment until the fee is paid.  This results in delays. Delays result in deals not happening. Don’t let this happen to you.  Make sure your agreement for selling a restaurant includes exactly who pays.  Be clear in the language that the seller will pay 50% and the buyer will pay 50% or the buyer will pay the assignment fee not to exceed $1500 but above all, put in language that addresses this issue.

The same is true for any other fees associated with the deal. This is where our ‘no surprises” rule comes into play. Neither the buyer or seller should find out anything at closing that weren’t aware of early in the transaction.  That means that attorney fees must be defined within the agreement.   The same thing is true for transfer fees if you’re buying or selling a franchise restaurant.  Who is responsible?  What is the amount?  When must they be paid?


Every restaurant has some form of a deposit, ranging from a lease security deposit to a utility deposit to the power company.  Landlords will typically never release these deposits but assign them over as part of the lease to the buyer.  Is it the buyer’s asset?  It should not be unless this is determined up front.  Make sure any agreement for selling a restaurant includes a clear determination of who owns those deposits. 

The most common language says something like this, ‘Any and all amounts currently on deposit for the benefit of the Business for utility services, leases, insurance, etc., are and shall remain the sole property of Seller and are not included as part of this transaction.”  If you are selling a restaurant and the agreement doesn’t say something like this, a buyer may challenge you that these are in fact, assets of the business that should convey to the buyer.  That’s thousands of dollars you can miss out on.  Avoid this by inserting language up front that deals with this.

Inventory -- 

In most cases, restaurant inventory is performed by physical count the night before closing and the amount is paid to the seller on top of the purchase price.  Note that I said, in most cases.  If you fail to include this in the purchase agreement, this will generate a lot of ill will that could lead to a buyer without enough funds to close.

Inventory is not a small amount.  We estimate at We Sell Restaurants, that inventory on hand is approximately one percent of sales.  For a sandwich shop generating $500,000 in sales, that means there can be around $5000 of inventory to be accounted for in the closing. 

An agreement between parties buying and selling a restaurant should specifically address how the inventory will be handled.  If it’s to be included, it should have specific language around this function as in, “Seller agrees to leave $3000 of fresh and usable inventory on hand to be determined by physical count.”

Any understanding related to inventory should spell out:

  • Which Inventory is to be included
  • How it will be counted
  • Status of inventory – i.e. fresh, usable, unopened inventory

Escrow -  

The handling of the escrow is the final item that must be understood by all parties when a purchase agreement is written for selling a restaurant.  Under what conditions will the deposit be refunded? What contingencies that fail will trigger a return of escrow?  Who will hold the deposit?  Is there a separate written escrow agreement? 

Having a clear understanding around the escrow deposit is another item that keeps deals on target to close instead of failing apart when selling a restaurant.

Want more help selling a restaurant?  Contact us at this link for a free, no obligation valuation.

Blog Byline Robin

Topics: Selling a Restaurant

Five Top Risks when Selling a Restaurant

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Sep 24, 2018 3:51:55 PM

If you’re worrying about these five things when it comes to selling a restaurant, you’re not alone.  Here’s how to understand the top risks associated with selling a restaurant so you can plan to overcome these risks with strategies that win.

Selling a restaurant is never easy.  For many operators, their business is part of the fabric of their life.  It not only provides the means to financially secure their family, it’s also their connection to the community, a place of friendship and support, along with the place they are satisfied each day with the product of their work.  There are risks, however, when selling a restaurant.  We hope that by helping you be forewarned, you’ll be forearmed and ready to mitigate these risks.

Follow Me iPhone Facebook PostRisk #1 when Selling a Restaurant – Everyone will find out. 

Everyone will find out your business is for sale and employees will get scared and leave.  This is a real risk when putting your business on the market.  How does a strong restaurant broker keep this from occurring?  First, with the signature of all buyers on a legal document called a confidentiality agreement.  This is a contractual agreement not to disclose information that your business is for sale or risk legal action and some form of liquidated damages.

Do confidentiality agreements work?  In our experience, at We Sell Restaurants, these agreements do work to keep most people from sharing this information.  We require both a confidentiality agreement and proof of funds to be submitted to us for any would-be buyer.  That way, we reach a common agreement.  The broker has highly confidential knowledge of the buyer’s financial picture and the buyer has highly confidential knowledge of the business listing.  The risk to confidentiality usually occurs with inexperienced brokers who skip the qualification process and send out packages without both a confidentiality agreement and proof of funds in place.  

Risk #2 when Selling a Restaurant – My employees will leave.

Many sellers are concerned that key employees may leave if they learn the business is for sale.  In fact, many times that key employee is great target buyer for the business.  He or she knows the ins and outs. They have experience that a lender holds in high regard when writing a loan for the business. They may have limited means to invest but in today’s lending market, they won’t need more than twenty percent down in most cases.

In our experience, all employees, not just key employees, are less loyal to the actual seller (sorry to say), than they are to the location, the hours, the pay, the consistency and overall, the idea of the job they already have.  Most employees resist change.  Think about this from their perspective and it helps you overcome this risk in your mind.  For employees, it is riskier for them to find a new role outside the business, than keep the one they have.

Risk #3 when Selling a Restaurant – My Books Aren’t Good Enough for Lending.

As restaurant brokers, we’ve seen it all when it comes to bookkeeping for the industry.  In most cases, sellers are more concerned about getting through the lending process than the actual underwriting team.  While small business owners aren’t always meticulous about record keeping; it is rare to see a business fail this lending test because the qualify is not enough.

A standard chart of accounts for the restaurant business that properly reflects sales, cost of good sold, labor, occupancy and all other costs is difficult to even screw up in today’s world of POS systems capturing sales in real time and 80% of all transactions moving through your bank account from a credit card transaction.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  In most cases, this risk can be overcome or at the worst, explained away to a good underwriting team.

Risk #4 when Selling a Restaurant – My landlord won’t transfer the Lease

 While few landlords outright deny a lease transfer, many will try and keep the seller on the lease as a guarantor, despite the quality of the new tenant. The way to mitigate this risk is to be sure that the restaurant broker qualifies the buyer in advance and carefully prepares a strong package of introduction to the landlord.  Allowing the buyer to go in cold or set up his own meetings with the landlord is the greatest risk in this process.  Most leases require that if a new buyer is qualified, the lease must be transferred.  Getting out of the guaranty is a little trickier but can be done with the support and guidance of a qualified professional. 

Risk #5 when Selling a Restaurant – My business won’t Sell.

On a scale of one to ten, this is the lowest risk to selling a restaurant depending on the advice you get and the broker you use.  At We Sell Restaurants, we see 90% of our inventory sell and a very active and willing database of buyers. On the other hand, there are major brokerage firms that report as little as 10 – 15 percent of their listings that make it to the closing table. 

If you are selling a restaurant, ask everyone you interview how many restaurants they have sold, not listed, but sold in the last year.  This is one of your greatest assets.  You should put anyone that wants the job of handling this transaction through a thorough vetting. 

These five risks are real, not imagined.  They are manageable, however, if you study this article and plan ahead to mitigate these issues and others that can arise in selling a restaurant.  Above all, choose a professional with knowledge of these risks and others before listing your restaurant for sale.   

Interested in seeing our restaurants for sale?  Click this link for instant access to hundreds of new listings.

Blog Byline Robin






Topics: Selling a Restaurant