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Running Your Business:
Moving a Restaurant
By Miriam Silverberg

Many restaurateurs own a successful restaurant in one place and decide to move it. Not to a different neighborhood, but to a nearby town. There are many problems to keep in mind.

Suppose you own a restaurant in an outlying suburb and you decide to move to Chicago. Or you own a restaurant in Westchester and move to New York City. You've been in the business for years and you think you know all there is to know. Not quite.

There's a world of difference between the city and its surrounding towns. Everything is much more expensive in the city. Rent is higher, salaries and utilities are higher. Insurance is higher, too. If you continue to live in the town where you had your old restaurant and commute to the city, that's going to be expensive, too.

Your profit margin will probably be about the same. It might be higher in the city because prices are higher, but your expenses are also higher so one cancels out the other.

Don't think you'll have instant name recognition. True, you had a restaurant in a bedroom community of your old city so now you assume the people who dined in your old place will follow you here. Don't be too sure. You might have to start fresh as the new kid on the block. Do you have enough money to do that?

You'll probably find the standards in the city are higher. There's a higher level of knowledge and sophistication. Your food and service will have to be of a higher calibre; unless, of course, they were already exceptional. Will your help follow you or will you have to start fresh with a new team in the kitchen and dining room?

Will you be taking over the debts of an existing restaurant? If so, before you even start, you'll be behind. The landlord will be breathing down your neck The electric company will expect you to pay the previous guy's bill. Don't expect anyone to cut you any slack.

Think about your commute. You'll probably drive. Will you be spending three hours on the road everyday? The garage where you park your late does it stay open?

Do you really know your new area? From where will you draw business? If it's strictly a business area, don't expect dinner business at first. Or, if it's a residential area, you may never have a lunch business. Have other restaurants opened and closed there and why?

These are all things to think about.

Miriam Silverberg is the owner and founder of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a publicity firm in New York City which has represented many restaurants. She is listed in Who's Who of American Women, has taught a course in publicity at the New School and is an annual panelist at Marymount Manhattan College's seminar on writing and publicity. She can be reached at

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