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Running a Restaurant/Stand Alone or Food Court


Dear David

Thank you for this opportunity.  We own a building that has been used as a restaurant for the last 20 years or so.  Our most recent tenant was a Chinese Buffet that changed hands a couple of times before basically running out of gas.  Our building is located in San Jacinto, CA.  SJ is a town in Riverside County.  Residents are generally blue collar workers of lower income.  Unemployment is probably high.  The financial crisis / real estate implosion of the last 6 years has been felt significantly throughout the community.

Our stand alone building measures about 6,000 sf and has ample parking.  There is a 12 unit movie theater across a very large parking lot from our building.

We are considering converting the building into a multi-unit food court; maybe four smaller restaurant units that share a common seating area, but that is just our uneducated idea of what might serve the area best.

What do you suggest that we do next?  Do we need some type of market / industry consultant?  Please guide us.

Best regards, Max

Hi Max,

It will be my pleasure to try to help you.  I do have a few questions for you that will help me to give you some basic guidance.

First, a few location-related questions.  You mentioned the movie theater that is relatively nearby.  Is the location of your building such that you have other "destination" retailers nearby?  Are the traffic counts strong at your location?  Are you on a commuting corridor for mornings, lunchtime or dinner?  Does your building have high visibility?

The concept of creating a food court type arrangement in a space such as you have is plausible, but there are a great number of variables that would determine whether or not it would make good sense.  Would you be creating and operating the concepts or would you be looking at franchising known brands? Again, a lot of variables.  My gut feeling (and this is based upon many years of restaurant industry experience) is that creating a destination food court is going to be challenging unless you do something very unique in the marketplace and have the potential for high traffic nearby.  I am not saying it isn't viable, only that you would definitely need to do more research before investing in this.

I do think that you could benefit from the guidance of a consultant.  This is definitely within our skill set and I would be happy to discuss this with you and put together a proposal for you if you would like me to.

Please feel free to contact me directly at my email address below and we can schedule a no fee, no hassle, no pressure phone call and talk about the best use of your building.  Also, if you contact me I will be happy to send you a PDF (we are updating our website, so this would be the best info about us I can get you) that will tell you more about us, what we do, our experience and capabilities and a few of our past and present clients.

Max, I hope this helps you and I look forward to hearing from you.


David Foster
Foster and Associates
(417) 877-0428 office
(417) 849-1903 cell  

Running a Restaurant

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David Foster


We have been in the restaurant industry for over 40 years and consult with restaurants, casinos and hotels nationwide. We love helping restaurant operators succeed and can answer any questions related to restaurant start-ups, business plans, operations, labor costs, food costs, liquor costs, employee turnover, marketing etc.


I am a seasoned foodservice veteran with nearly 42 years experience in the industry. My extensive background includes overseeing multi-unit, multi-concept restaurant operations ranging from cafeterias to fine dining, and everything in between. I have a strong hands-on operations and marketing background that give me a unique insight into the “Real World” challenges of the restaurant industry. I have extensive concept development, menu and recipe development and kitchen layout and design expertise. I am effective in analyzing operational needs and identifying practical solutions in today’s very dynamic foodservice environment. In the industry, I am respected by my peers and have served on the Board of Directors of the Missouri Restaurant Association and have been a featured speaker on the subject of Home Meal Replacement at various national events. I also served on the Culinary Advisory Board of the Ozark Technical College as well as serving on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Ozarks.

Member of the National Restaurant Association, Past Board Member of the Missouri Restaurant Association, Past Board Member of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Ozarks

The Consultant, Seasoned Views (a trade magazine for the restaurant industry)

Attended Drury College, Springfield, MO, Varsity Management, SRI

Awards and Honors
I have had restaurant projects featured in The Consultant (a magazine for foodservice consultants with worldwide circulation). I was honored for achieving the highest level of management competence by the Selection Research Institute.

Past/Present Clients
Sugar Creek Casino, Classic Rock Coffee Company, Mark Twain Brewing Company, Springfield Brewing Company, Bruegger's Bagels, M&M Grill, Paco Joe's, Holiday Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Buffalo Run Casino, Golden Corral Corporation, Crosswinds Café, Chinese Chef, Mr. Dunderbak's Old World Market & Café, Bullfeather’s Wings and Grille, Mainstreet Market, Bear Rock Café, Cartoon's Oyster Bar & Grill, T's Redneck Roadhouse, Jim's Steakhouse, Neighbor's Mill Bakery & Café, Crazy Vine, San Francisco Oven, Maria's Mexican Restaurant, Andy's Frozen Custard, The Granite Club, Umi Japanese Steak, Seafood and Sushi, Springfield Grocer Company, US Foodservice, Premium Standard Farms, Smithfield, Dakota Organic, Kraft Foods, Allens, Inc.

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