Location location location keeps ringing in my ears. Every person I've spoken to in the restaurant industry tells me it will make or break your business. It's hard enough trying to find a good location when you know a city but having not lived in London for 12 years first thing I've had to is decide what area we want the cafe to be in. The selection criteria: inner city suburban area populated by high income professionals, ‘yummy mummys’, mobile/home based workers and preferably lots of affluent Australians/antipodeans who are desperately missing Australian style cafes. As for the site itself we want somewhere that gets morning sun, preferably a corner site, in a high visibility location like a retail strip, near or on the way to a train station and in an area where there are some competitors but not saturated with other cafes. Not too much to ask? Well it wouldn't be if the freaking Starbucks and Cafe Neros didn't take every site that meets that criteria. So we may have to compromise on a few things...
Another expression that rings in my ears: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
I thought I'd found the perfect site on Fulham Rd. Not on a corner but it seemed to have everything else going for it in terms of location and was surprisingly cheap. Maybe I got a little blinded by the good location and price and didn't see the faults of the property itself. Or maybe I've watched too many shows like Renovation Rescue and have completely unrealistic expectations of what you can do as a low cost makeover. After getting an architect to run his critical eye over it I saw it in a different light- low ceilings, no windows or ventilation, only one entry point and a horrible musty damp smell that suggested bigger plumbing issues.
I also learned that you can't just get a mallet and knock out walls like they do on those home improvement shows when that wall is holding up a block of apartments.
So the search continues but at least I'm not the novice I was before. Now I know that windows and ventilation are important and that when the agent is strongly suggesting you get a building inspection before making an offer, they might be trying to tell you something.