WE COULD BE THE KEY TO SAVING YOUR RESTAURANT PORTFOLIO
We support Landlords and Property Developers by evaluating prospective-tenants, performing in-depth assessments of existing tenants, and providing ongoing consulting services to optimize restaurant operations and profitability during management.
According to a report published in 2020 by CHD Expert foodservice data analytics firm, independent restaurant operators “represent 68% of the total US restaurant landscape and maintain a unique competitive edge in the market.” Despite best efforts by national chains, independents outnumber chain restaurants “by nearly two to one”.
Most independent restaurant operators don’t have the years of experience, brand recognition, resources, or solid credit that comes standard with national and multi- national chains. More independent restaurant operators translates into more inexperienced (not to be confused with untalented) restaurant operators. And more inexperienced restaurant operators in the market means more risk for your restaurant portfolio.
But no matter the risk involved, brick-and-mortar restaurants aren’t going anywhere. They’re crucial to driving foot traffic (adjacent brick-and-mortar retail needs all the help they can get), providing amenities for office tenants in mixed-use developments, creating a sense of place at the property, and igniting economic prosperity and development in the surrounding submarket. Folks will always need to eat.
Hire a third-party restaurant consulting firm to set up your restaurant operators for success and to save struggling concepts – the ones worth saving – from going underwater. You can even bake the consulting fee into your tenant improvement allowance because you’ll know the investment will deliver a worthwhile ROI.
Landlords – whether we want to admit it or not – have their hands tied. Landlords specialize in real estate, not restaurant operations. And they’re at the mercy of the strange and sometimes tenuous landlord-tenant dynamic. A landlord’s advice to a restaurant operator on “how to run a restaurant” or “how build a strong brand and drive foot traffic” will fall on deaf ears – even if the advice of the landlord is sound. Few landlords are fortunate enough to have internal food and beverage folks who can provide structured guidance to the restaurant operators, but even they have to confront the limitations of their experience in restaurant operations and their knowledge of current trends and best practices.
For landlords, hiring a restaurant consulting firm like Blue Orbit could mean the difference between unpaid rent, messy evictions, unnecessary legal costs, bad press – all which damage the perception of the property and landlord – and increased foot traffic, higher percentage rent collections, favorable underwriting at sale, strong tenant relations, and so on.
Everyone has a unique due diligence process for evaluating prospects, during which the landlord assesses – in varied depth and priority – the operator’s track record, credit, initial budget, financing, business plan, fit in the property, etc. But because a landlord’s restaurant operations knowledge is likely limited, so is their ability to grasp the prospect’s potential and fit – or lack thereof – in a property.
Without tried experience in the restaurant industry, the due diligence process for any landlord will have holes. A restaurant consulting firm like Blue Orbit can fill these holes and weed out the bad seeds through an in-depth assessment of each prospect and their concept’s viability. Leveraging their experience and expertise in the industry, a restaurant consulting firm can increase the landlord’s likelihood of locking into a five-, seven-, ten-year lease with a strong restaurant operator who will drive traffic and value to the property over the long haul.
In dealing with inexperienced restaurant operators, landlords should be weary of taking the initial budget at face value. Without direction and guidance from an experienced restaurant operator, the initial budget is merely a back of the envelope estimate. All too often the prospect underestimates capital required, calling for a sliver of what is actually needed to successfully launch and operate the concept, unwittingly dooming the concept from the start.
Every detail of the concept should be scrutinized in order to determine a realistic, conservative budget needed to successfully launch, incubate, and operate the restaurant. A good restaurant consulting firm begins each new concept with a profit model. This model considers start-up costs (architecture, construction, interior design fees, FF&E, installation, training, sales and marketing, technology, dishware, seating, uniforms, food cost, etc.) and operating mechanics. These estimates become the foundation of the business plan and lay the groundwork for how the restaurant – and therefore, the landlord – will create and sustain success.
For the landlord, the takeaway of seeing a profit model is two-fold: it provides a vision for how the restaurant will remain a healthy tenant over the duration of the lease and it gives clarity around the use of the tenant improvement allowance. Unlike an office tenant who might use their allowance to create a comfortable environment for its employees (who then go out and generate revenue for the firm), the physical environment of a restaurant directly correlates with the immediate ability to generate revenue. The build out, kitchen layout, machinery and equipment, seating, décor, etc. can either bolster or hinder the restaurant’s ability to operate efficiently and effectively. So the highest level of scrutiny should be applied to the use of a tenant improvement allowance in restaurants.
For some restaurant operators, they only need guidance from consultants at inception. For many, they require further expertise and support: from collaborating with designers, architects, and equipment experts to developing operating systems, engineering menus, determining pricing, and hiring and training staff. The restaurant consulting firm becomes a lifeline over the lifetime of the restaurant – from launch (and/or recovery) to restaurant sale.
What happens when an existing restaurant operator begins to struggle? The property – and therefore the landlord – becomes burdened with high accounts receivable balances, write-offs, nominal percentage rent collections, evictions, legal costs, and potentially bad press. Then the co- tenants begin to struggle because foot traffic is down and perception is bleak, which can ignite a deadly domino effect across the property.
The root of the issue may be simple or it may be complicated. The concept may be able to recover or perhaps it has hit the end of the line. Rather than continuing to write off bad debt or triggering an eviction, engage a restaurant consulting firm to perform an operations assessment. Bad management or a poorly conceived/executed marketing strategy might be the root cause, but each restaurant should be seen as a patient. It’s impossible for anyone to correctly diagnose said patient and provide the right prescription without first becoming a credentialed medical professional. It’s possible that the patient just has a scratchy throat and needs a lozenge to get back on their feet. It’s also possible that the patient has a deadly disease and has four months to live. Either way, engage a professional restaurant consulting firm to diagnose the situation – and then allow them to prescribe the right medicine.
WHAT WE DO
We work with you to understand what your concept needs to do for you and then collaborate to create the business of your dreams while ensuring that it delivers your expectation.
All of the design, management and site selection expertise in the world will not help you if you don’t put food and drinks on your menu that people prefer…and are willing to pay for.
Whether you simply need to start frying your French fries in a different fryer than your Calamari or you need to completely overhaul the brand offering, we’ll get it right and your restaurant will be on the path to profitability in no time.
WHAT WE DO
"Blue Orbit is an exceptional resource for small to large restaurants looking to grow. We have greatly enjoyed working with them."
Marta Gomez Frey, Director – Collins Small Business Development Center, Texas
"Blue Orbit is truly the best of the best. We used them to help streamline one of our restaurants and to help us implement systems for our company to continue to grow. Their #1 goal is to help you reach your goals and make your day to day life easier and more efficient. We highly recommend these guys and their personal touch!!"
Ryan Pope, Owner - Gnat's Landing, St. Simons Island
"I have worked with Ray Camillo on various investments and business opportunities in the restaurant and consulting fields over the last three years and would recommend him as a top-notch consultant and analyst"
Christian Ward, EVP - YEXT, NYC
"LOOK NO FURTHER. I've worked with the skilled professionals at Blue Orbit on several restaurant projects. Several of the things I love in working with them is, they are operators so they are realistic and transparent. Feedback is a two way street with them. They commit and stay on track and they deliver a great end result."
Dianna Stoffer, Brand Manager - Intercontinental Hotels Group / Hotel Indigo, USA
"Michael Maxwell said it best when he explained the restaurant business to me as a large jigsaw puzzle. If you try to do it all at once it’s overwhelming, but if you put the most important pieces in place one at a time you end up with a beautiful final product. Blue Orbit did a masterful job of creating and opening our restaurant one piece at a time."
James Brearley, Owner - Floridays and Compass Hotel, Bradenton
"Blue Orbit has been an invaluable resource, providing solid recommendations and industry insight!"
Suzi LeBlanc, HR Director - Fifth Group Restaurants, Atlanta
"Ray Camillo has an exceptional ability to read a business, attack the challenges with appropriate resources and deliver results. He is true hospitality!"
Todd Rushing, Owner - Concentrics Restaurants, Atlanta
"I had an extravagant idea with no tools on how to execute my dream...Bellina would not be what it is today without Blue Orbit's support and coaching!"
Tal Baum, Owner - Bellina Alimentari & Oliva Restaurants, Atlanta
"Wow, what a creative, out-of-the-box thinker! 4 stars AJC, Atlanta's Top New Restaurants (Atlanta Magazine Restaurant Concept Award)...enough said!"
Ford Fry, Owner - Ford Fry Restaurants, Atlanta
"Ray is one of the most highly regarded restaurant consultants in the country. He's very organized, highly motivated and has a keen determination to make sure the job gets done right the first time"
Harold Shumacher, Owner - The Shumacher Group, Atlanta
"Our restaurants had such an AMAZING experience with Blue Orbit. We worked very closely with Michael and Matt. They were instrumental in helping us make changes to our operations, menu, and service model. You can feel how much they care about you and your business through the whole process. We loved working with them so much that we continue to check in and say HI because we miss them! We feel like we made some lifelong friends out of such a great working relationship. You will not be sorry. Contact them ASAP!"
Lina Fleihan, Owner - Ghassan's Fresh Mediterranean Eats, Greensboro
"Blue Orbit was instrumental to my success and I enthusiastically recommend them to anyone aspiring to open a restaurant of their dreams."
Beth Castro, Owner - Mae's Bakery, Atlanta
"We reached out to Blue Orbit for their expertise and help in planning our new project. We brought a big bag of dreams and ideas and they were able to help us process them all and come up with a solid business plan to make those dreams a reality, and one that would be profitable. Ray and his entire team bring many years of experience and wisdom that we found invaluable in making critical choices in developing our concepts."
Mandy and Kelvin Slater, Owners - Skyline Park & Nine Mile Station, Atlanta
"Blue Orbit performed an operations assessment and quickly identified several high impact areas that we have since addressed with great success. They never pressured me to take on more services than I needed and I regard them as a go-to resource whenever we need a fresh set of eyes and an injection of operational know-how!"
Tiffany Lach, Owner - Sola Cafe & Market, Bozeman
"We have a sign in our office to inspire us to make good decisions - in big bold letters it says WWRD?... stand for 'What Would Ray Do?'"
Carlo Rovetto, Owner - Positive Pie, Montpelier
"Ray is truly one of the best restaurant professionals I have come across. He understands the back and front of the house, has great communication skills, is visionary, and has a great sense of humor. He is a pleasure to work with and I hope to do so again in the future"
Glenna Hecht, Owner - Humanistic Consulting, Dallas
"Blue Orbit listened to me and quickly understood my goals and business, then attached it. Sales are up, costs are down, and, most importantly, my customers are happy. Ray is a true partner and an ongoing resource - like a restaurant whisperer!"
Micah Serwitz, Owner - Instead of Flowers, Atlanta
"There is no way [to put into] how much Ray and Blue Orbit changed our lives. We moved to Atlanta from Europe with a dream of running our own business and decided that a restaurant was the ideal thing for us. Ray looked at us, what we were passionate about, and guided us through the complicated process of understanding business financials. Today, 2.5 years later, we own a very successful furniture studio where we design and fabricate furniture for clients all over the South. Ray was able to see us for who we are and guide us in the right direction. Thank you!"
Chris Demant, Owner - Reclaimed by Demant, Atlanta