Real estate agents love to bang on about the importance of “location, location, location”.
But choosing the right spot for a new restaurant isn’t only about the postcode. In episode four of The Recipe, we talked to former Noma chef Torsten Vildgaard about five other factors that every restaurateur should bear in mind.
The days of cramped kitchens in dank basements are over. To operate at a high level and be creative, modern chefs “need to be in a healthy work environment where they can let their mind go”, says Torsten, who is still searching for the right spot for his new restaurant. At a minimum, he wants a kitchen with access to fresh air and sunlight.
A restaurant is like an iceberg, Torsten says, and the dining room is only the tip. “The space where you have guests is quite small compared to what you need,” he explains. “Because you need storage, you need a wine cellar, you need changing rooms, you need a prep kitchen. To do things correctly, you need space.”
Consider how you and your staff are going to get home at the end of the night, Torsten advises, especially if you plan to launch your restaurant in a remote location. Your guests may be happy to take a taxi, but your employees probably won’t be. Torsten says he’s been looking at some “beautiful locations” north of Copenhagen, “but the last bus goes at 11:30 pm, so how do the staff go home afterwards?”
Likewise, if you’re planning to spend time with your family and involve them in your new restaurant, you’ll want a place they can get to easily. “I have two kids, and since I'm going to be in the restaurant a lot, I would like a spot where they can come and visit,” Torsten says. “I want it to be something else that brings us together, even though I'm going to invest a lot of time and effort in it.”
Finally, consider the possibility that your restaurant succeeds and you’re able to expand — only to find that what was once a perfect spot is now too small. It’s a problem that clever restaurateurs anticipate. “It would be such a shame if I put myself in a spot where I cannot grow and then I need to move after two or three years again,” Torsten explains.