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Hello Chase!

My name is James and I live in Kentucky but help manage a bar in Tennessee, which is only 10 minutes away.  It is a very small tourist/college town and the bar I work at is the only one in town.  Due to the local laws, we can only serve beer and the usual bar food (burgers/fried food).  However, we stay very busy on the weekends and pretty steady throughout the week.  There are 3 owners of the bar and they are all very poor at managing the books and keeping the profits in the bar, so they are planning on either selling it or just letting it go.  They do not own the building.  They own the kitchen equipment and the high-tops and stools and of course the inventory.  They have a month to month lease that I'm guessing they will not pick up after May.  My wife and I are in the position where we can invest in the business, which I am very capable of running.  I have over 10 years experience in bars and restaurants.

My question is:  should I wait until they close down and try to negotiate a lease from the building owners, or should I negotiate with my bosses to buy their inventory and furniture?  The latter would mean not closing the doors and losing customers.

Thanks for your time Chase!  I look forward to your answer.


Hello James  - Thank you for the question. I’m just back from driving through KY & TN – beautiful country.

I’m going to probably come up with the same questions you have about your situation – not sure that I can give you an actual answer – as you are there and I am here.
If you wait until they close down you gain the money you will save by not having to pay for the goodwill & “blue-sky” that the owners will likely ask for – but you risk the landlord not agreeing to lease the property to you or that someone else will make a better offer. So which is better for you?

If you come to terms with your bosses – you gain a continuation of the current business but do you in any way risk alienating your bosses? I have witnessed many complications some good - some bad – when someone is running a business for someone else and they ask to buy the business. There can be unforeseen conflict as the parties make their way to the sale date and both struggle to agree upon the responsibility levels  of old ownership vs. new ownership.

If they are going away – is there any other property in town that would make a good bar? You might find a better deal from a landlord if you leveraged 2 parties interest in a new lease-holder - but you also might stir up a competitor’s interest – not saying to do that – just thinking out-loud.

Furniture/fixtures/equipment (FF&E) are easy items to come-by at auction prices – so fact check on the web before you make an offer. And, carefully consider if the “old” (current) name of the business carries enough positives for you to pay for it or would a new name distance you from inherited ill will (read as money owed – bad reputations)

There is a voice in your head telling you what to do – the only way to build a case for or against what the voice is telling you is to write down on a paper the pros & cons of each decision direction. DO NOT DO THIS without adding weight to the things that mean the most to you. For some folks money is #1 and that beats out all the 2 & 3’s you might come up with and you would go in the cheapest way – for some extra work building out a new space is negative  #1 and they would never do it in a million years. Give weight to your list before you make a decision & don’t take over without a business plan that points the way to more happy customers & more profits.

Best of luck (the link below might help as well) -
Chase LeBlanc
High Impact Hospitality  

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Chase LeBlanc


I am the author of the new book, HIGH IMPACT HOSPITALITY: Upgrade Your Purpose, Performance and Profits! I am also the founder and CEO of Leadagers LLC (leaders who manage, managers who lead, "leed/i/jers") a hospitality industry consultancy. Our primary focus is in upgrading the purpose, performance and profits of restaurants, bars, food & beverage outlets and/or nightclubs. We have expertise in operations, start-ups, training, in-house leadership development and positive customer service experiences. 720.269.9537


My 30+ year hospitality career started as owner/operator of a nightclub development and management company. After successfully selling that business, I led within a variety of national and global operations as General Manager and multi-unit Regional Manager and I have also served corporations as Vice President and President. My extremely broad range of experiences includes leading training stores, entertainment complexes, fine dining establishments, high-volume theme restaurants, quick-service restaurants, dance/night clubs, comedy clubs, college taverns, dueling piano bars, pizzerias, high-volume sport’s bars, live music showrooms, retail stores and gift shops, fast-food concessions, catering/banquet facilities and high-volume arcades.

"Staffing Doctor" columnist for Hotel F&B Magazine Top 10 - Core Hospitality - Quick Serve Leader - Wise Words - Inside F&B And have been a featured blogger for In addition to my new book High Impact Hospitality, I have been a contributing writer for and/or my properties have been featured in Cheers, F&B, Food Service News, Hot Spots America, Military Club & Hospitality, Nation’s Restaurant News, Night Club & Bar and Top Shelf.

Attended the University of Colorado for three years and left to open my first nightclub at the age of 21.

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