Friday 21 February 2014

Location, location, location..

I grew up with Kirsty and Phil - we all learned that in the world of property, location is king.  But does this go for commercial property, as much as residential?

My cafe business plan is shaping up. I have the social enterprise aspects worked out (more on this another time), I know what my USP will be and what we will offer.  But the numbers at the end - daily takings, overheads - surely these depend almost entirely on where the cafe is located.

I know I want it to be in Kennington (London SE11).  For my plan to work, the cafe needs to be close to home. But I also see a real need here for a family friendly place.  There are lots and lots of young families in the area - the boy and I have met most of them at our various play groups and children's centres.  There are also lots of families with buggies passing through Kennington on their way to Waterloo and the South Bank. 

Another reason I love the idea of opening in Kennington, is it seems to be supportive of small independents.  From the likes of Lower Marsh (Greensmiths, I Knit London, Four Corners cafe..) to the range of shop fronts on Windmill Row. Yes there are a ridiculous number of estate agents, but we can skip past them and at least it reduces (slightly) the space available to betting shops.

So I have seen a couple of shop fronts come up for let, and go under offer, since first thinking of this cafe idea.  Commercial property does seem to spring up fast and I guess I need to get myself on the ball.  Considerations for my business include:
- footfall of street
- floor space of premises (I'd like 1000sqft or more - ideally being able to partition off a seperate space for events/groups)
- lay out of floor space (ideally no stairs, and with lots of natural light)
- services and fittings included (is there a kitchen? Adequate toilets? Etc)
- class of use (ideally A3, or potential to change use)
- affordability! This means both annual rent AND any premium involved (the idea of a premium is new to me, but established cafe premises seem to ask for one as a matter of course - often six figures, it turns out!)

So this morning I plucked up the courage to pop in and make enquiries at a little restaurant just around the corner from our house.  I have literally never seen anyone eat in there - so surely the owner might be approachable? Sadly he wasn't in, but I did leave a note.  I like this place for several reasons - it's all on one level, it's close by, it's on the main road but not in any of the fashionable strips so should be affordable. (In the photo below it is the restaurant in the background)

Other options are not so attractive - a larger established restaurant up the road which comes with a whopping premium; the possibility of converting a derelict former council parking office (hmm.. Great vibe!); a good sized closed restaurant, which sadly is underground and not at all buggy-friendly.

Fingers crossed the right place comes up soon!

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