How to Buy a Restaurant and Achieve Your Dream of Restaurant Ownership

Posted by Mel Ferioli on Mar 21, 2023 9:30:00 AM


One of my favorite questions I like to ask a restaurant owner is “Why did you open your restaurant?” Every person has a story to tell that includes anything from a basic “investment” to something very personal to them such as a family business or honoring a loved one and their recipes. Each person has described the struggles, challenges, great accomplishments, and passion that they have put into and gained from their restaurant. It is their American Dream and their stories are a valuable learning resource for many who are thinking of Buying a Restaurant or planning an exit strategy.  

As a Certified Restaurant Broker, I help people buy and sell restaurants every day and with each person that I work with and each story that I hear, it is clear to me that I am so much more than just a Broker. Each transaction as a Certified Restaurant Broker is directly helping an existing owner or buyer start that next chapter of their life. That “BIG STEP” they have thought about and wondered “What if I…” and needed someone to help navigate them through that process successfully once they made the decision to go for it. In the case of Jason Baruch, buying a restaurant was his strategy to keeping his favorite restaurant open. Jason shared the story below with We Sell Restaurants after buying the very popular restaurant, Root and Branch Bistro in Clermont, FL—

"Buying a restaurant is a unique and once in a lifetime event.  At least it probably will be for me.  I went into the endeavor quite unsure if I even wanted to take on this type of challenge in my life.  After all, everyone tells you that it is hard work, likely to fail, low margin, and DOOMED before you even start.  This all may be true and yet I still come across amazing places that offer a great experience and sometimes even exceptional food.  

One day, I was looking for another challenge for our family to tackle reading through local businesses for sale.  I happened by an ad for a restaurant that sounded very close to my very favorite restaurant of all time.  It was a confidential listing and piqued my curiosity.  Please know that I have never been one to dream of owning a restaurant.  My wife can absolutely attest that I am no chef.  However, if it was my favorite restaurant, what then?  

I ran downstairs and asked my wife if she would like to buy Root and Branch.  She didn’t outright say no, so I pursued the opportunity and reached out.  The Broker was Mel and walked me through how to find out more information.  I complied and learned that indeed this IS my favorite restaurant.  Root and Branch Bistro + Bar was for sale. 

I continued down the fact-finding mission and Mel was gracious enough to answer all my questions and set up a meeting with the owner.  The meeting went well, and I could see that others were interested as another person exited while I was entering.  Now I had to do some soul searching to see if I really wanted to own a restaurant.  I reached out some friends and family for advice and got everything from “That’s a great idea” to “You’ve got to be out of your mind.” 

I reached back out to Mel and started inquiring how everything worked.  I learned that buying is quite the complex process.  Mel walked us through every step of the way.  She made sure to put me in touch with contacts and knowledgeable folks that could help inform my decisions. Mel is highly organized and kept the buying process on track.  There was a tense period during the negotiations that, without Mel keeping things going and working through the issues with both parties, I am sure the sale would have fallen apart.  

Mel is different than many brokers I suppose, although I haven’t worked with any others.  She has a deep understanding of how restaurants work and was able to quickly point out costs that were normal and areas that I should really investigate. She helped me to understand what a path to profitability would look like for me.  The more I ran the numbers, I could see that she was correct.  

She put me touch with an attorney that would help us close the deal.  He was also able to help me to cover all my legal bases, from liquor licensing to tax numbers.  All these little details are important.  Without Mel guiding the way, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. What I cannot stress enough is how many details there are in a transaction like this.  You really need to have a world class team behind you to ensure you don’t miss anything or fail to meet a deadline.   

Long story short, the deal closed, and the restaurant is now ours.  Mel keeps in touch ensuring that I have everything that I need.  People told me to be wary of restaurant brokers.  I’ve learned that ‘people’ don’t know what they are talking about.  Mel matched a restaurant for sale with the person most likely to pay the most money for it.  Both the previous owner and I got the best of the transaction.  His dream and legacy lives on and I get to keep going to my favorite restaurant.  

The best decision the previous owner could have made was using Mel to close the biggest sale of his life.  I didn’t get to choose her, but should I need a broker for any reason, I would absolutely entrust the deal to Mel. 

Thank you Mel for ensuring that I can still go to my favorite restaurant. "

The most rewarding part of being a Certified Restaurant Broker is helping the people behind the restaurants accomplish their dreams. Stories like this are why I LOVE being a Certified Restaurant Broker; I get to help people like Jason everyday accomplish that next step in their life – their American Dream - their “What if I…?” and to me, that is the most rewarding part of what I do.  

If you are an entrepreneur looking to buy your first restaurant, browse restaurants for sale online. Or, download our free Tools and Templates for Buying a Restaurant. 

Download the Free Guide to Buying a Restaurant

mel ferioliMel Ferioli, Certified Restaurant Broker® is the franchisee for markets in Clermont and Orlando, Florida. She has lived in Central Florida for over 30 years, where she has maintained a careers in sales, marketing, and sales management. No stranger to the restaurant world, Mel spent time working in restaurants, including her father and grandfather’s restaurant. Later in life, she and her husband owned and operated their own franchise drink business, Margarita Man, for 12 years, building the concept throughout central Florida before selling. Mel is a born leader with the entrepreneurial spirit critical to successful business transactions. She is one a select number nationwide with the distinction of Certified Restaurant Broker®.


Topics: Buying a Restaurant

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