How Long Does It Take to Lease a Restaurant?

Posted by Robin Gagnon on Jun 27, 2024 9:00:00 AM


Ready to Lease a Restaurant and launch your own concept but concerned about the timing to launch? Leasing a restaurant space can be ideal if you want to launch your own concept, depending on what you are leasing and the existing infrastructure.

An ideal option if you are looking to bring your own concept to life is leasing an restaurant location. Building a restaurant from the ground up can take up 18 months depending on the concept, equipment, permitting, and more. That’s why some would-be restaurant owners opt to buy a restaurant or find a restaurant space for lease instead. But how long does it take to find a restaurant space for lease and turn it into the restaurant of your dreams? Here are the factors that could affecting your timing when securing a restaurant space for lease.

Finding a Location to Lease Your Restaurant

The first step in your timeline is the search. You must know where to find restaurant for lease opportunities. Online marketplaces like LoopNet, Crexi, and are popular resources for these opportunities.

A word of caution about restaurants for lease: Remember that the landlord or landlord’s listing agent does not represent you. The landlord’s representative has one goal, and that is to lease the space whether it is the right opportunity for you or not. Moreover, the landlord’s representative may not be a restaurant specialist. While he or she may not purposely hide information, they may not understand that the current infrastructure is not suitable for a restaurant concept. For example, restaurants require more air conditioning than standard lease space and have requirements for grease traps. The landlord’s representative may simply not be aware of the requirements.

That’s why it is a good idea to use your own broker to represent you as a tenant. In most cases, there is no fee for tenant representation, and a Certified Restaurant Broker knows the best requirements before you lease a restaurant.

When you find a restaurant space for lease on, our Certified Restaurant Brokers have the industry knowledge and business acumen to help you secure the right location for your goals. We understand which types of hoods, HVAC systems, and other infrastructure are required parts of your business model. We assist you in the application, negotiate the lease terms and make sure the lease space that is right is for your restaurant goals.

Delays in Obtaining a Restaurant for Lease

There are several factors that affect how quickly you can take over a restaurant space for lease. The key to a faster, seamless, process is to avoid common mistakes that delay your ability to get started. .

Mistake #1 Incomplete Tenant Package – An incomplete tenant package can be a dealbreaker for some landlords, and at the very least, delay the leasing process. A complete tenant package should include your menu, business plan, financial statement, tax returns, and personal guarantee. A restaurant broker will help you prepare this package in its entirety, ensuring that a strong and complete application is submitted to the landlord. The Certified Restaurant Brokers at We Sell Restaurants will assemble and present your package to the landlord.

Mistake #2 Unrealistic Expectations – Negotiating for too much all at one time may delay the process or shut down the deal altogether. No matter the market conditions, be conscientious of which items are worth negotiating for. A restaurant broker can help you determine what is reasonable to ask for as a tenant entering the lease. No landlord will be willing to accommodate free rent, tenant improvement money, and a lower-than-market rate. For example, it may be reasonable to negotiate for free rent during the time it takes to open your concept, but unreasonable to negotiate for a lower lease rate with it.

Mistake #3 Going at It Alone – As we mentioned before, using your own broker can be a great help in leasing a restaurant, particularly a specialized restaurant broker. Attempting to find a restaurant space for lease can take longer without the aid of these professionals as you will have to find the lease spaces, prepare your tenant package, and negotiate the lease. If you are inexperienced in any of those steps, then you risk delaying the process or losing the lease space to a candidate whom the landlord deemed more qualified.

The best strategy to save time leasing a restaurant is to have your own representation A qualified restaurant broker can connect you with the newest available lease spaces, prepare your tenant package, an negotiate the lease on your behalf. These professionals may already have existing relationships with the landlord that can boost your chances of success. Additionally, they are equipped to help to overcome any weaknesses in your tenant package, such as weaker credit or insufficient cash on hand.

→Read Also: 3 Reasons You Didn’t Get That Restaurant for Lease Space

How to Assemble a Strong Tenant Package

A strong tenant package is critical to a timely leasing experience. We Sell Restaurants recommends that your application to the landlord include the following:

  • Personal Financial Statement – this should include current and verifiable information about your assets, liabilities, and net worth. Make sure that it is dated within the last 30 days.
  • Credit Check – Be prepared to give the landlord approval to pull your credit score.
  • Tax Returns – Landlords will want to see at least two years of tax filings. It is unlikely a landlord will approve you if this information is missing. This includes both personal and corporate returns if you are already operating an existing restaurant.
  • Menu – Your menu is a must since some spaces have non-compete agreements.
  • Background Experience – Show the landlord that you are a qualified tenant by sharing your background and experience.
  • Business Plan – Finally, the landlord will want to see that you understand the financial picture and have formed realistic startup costs in your business plan.

Remember: the landlord is looking for a tenant who has cash on hand, a good credit history, and a strong understanding of how to operate the business. Assembling a tenant package that includes all these elements is critical to your success in securing the restaurant for lease.

→Read also: Tips on Leasing a Restaurant – What Landlords Expect from a Tenant

Browse Restaurants for Lease

Ready to find a restaurant space for lease and bring your dream to life? Browse opportunities available now here. Our Certified Restaurant Brokers are ready to help you achieve your goals. Thinking about buying an existing restaurant instead? Browse hundreds of restaurants for sale at

Download the Free Guide to Leasing a RestaurantRobin slug photoRobin Gagnon, Certified Restaurant Broker®, MBA, CBI, CFEis the co-founder of We Sell Restaurants, a brand that has carved an unparalleled niche in the industry as the nation's leading and only business broker franchise focused on restaurants. Under Robin’s leadership, We Sell Restaurants has grown to 45 states where it dominates the restaurant for sale marketplace, including franchise resales, delivering on the founder’s vision to Sell More Restaurants Than Anyone Else. We Sell Restaurants was named one of the most influential suppliers and vendors in the country by Nation’s Restaurant News and has earned a position on INC 5000’s list of fastest growing privately held companies. Franchisees of We Sell Restaurants surveyed by Franchise Business Review placed it 25th in the nation in franchisee satisfaction.

Robin is the Chair of the Women’s Franchise Committee of IFA and is a member of the IFA Board of Directors. She is also an MBA and Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) and has her CBI (Certified Business Intermediary) designation from the International Business Brokers Association. She co-authored Appetite for Acquisition, a small business book award winner in 2012 and contributes frequently to industry press appearing in Forbes, QSR, Modern Restaurant Management, Franchise Update, and others. She has appeared on The TODAY Show as a restaurant expert and Entrepreneur Magazine has named her to their list of the “Top Influential Women in Franchising.”

Topics: Buying a Restaurant, Leasing a Restaurant

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