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jmacnaughtan

Monetising empty dining rooms

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Following a recent discussion with some friends, I started wondering why dining rooms are left empty for massive stretches of the day.

 

Obviously, it is expensive to keep staff on full time to run a café service - but this represents a big chunk of unused and expensive real estate, when all the actual staff are working in the (generally smaller) kitchen.

 

I've never seen it happen (so there may be a good reason for it), but what's stopping restaurant owners from hiring them out as coworking spaces, for example?  They already have tables, chairs, power points and Wi-Fi.  The only real investment would be power strips, and possibly a lock on the wine cellar door.  If you sold an 8-11:30am slot and a 3:30-7pm slot, you could potentially increase your turnover by a large margin without much effort.

 

It might even let you drop an unprofitable lunch slot altogether.

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The company I work for sells/installs folding partitions - like the type you would see in a large hotel conference room, which are used to separate larger rooms into smaller rooms for a similar reason. They may have 2 groups who only need a portion of that larger space, so dividing it (with sound control) gives them double the revenue opportunity. I have installed them in restaurants who want to be able to separate a smaller area as a "private dining" area. I guess they fear liability issues from having a group in the restaurant essentially "unsupervised". Since I usually do my meetings with the owners at "off" times (mid morning or mid afternoon) so as to not bother them when they are ramping up for service...I guess it's also so the general public doesn't see the cleaning and such that happens during "non-service" times.

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1. It violates the lease terms signed with the building owner.

2. It violates the building permit for occupancy issued.

3. Extension power cords are not permitted for commercial use  in insurance policies.

 

dcarch

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23 minutes ago, dcarch said:

1. It violates the lease terms signed with the building owner.

2. It violates the building permit for occupancy issued.

3. Extension power cords are not permitted for commercial use  in insurance policies.

 

dcarch

 

N°3 I get, but there are workarounds if you're willing to install more power points.

 

For the first two, I'm not so sure.  Here, in any case, there are plenty of cafés which serve food and drink at lunch times, but still allow people in to work during their down time - so there's no real reason why restaurants can't do the same.  I think they're governed by the same licensing and lease laws (for example, there are restaurants which serve non-stop, so there's no obligation to close during services).

 

The space wouldn't have to be unsupervised either - take one junior member of staff and put them at the bar.  If you've got a dozen people working there, that's his/her salary covered.

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1 hour ago, jmacnaughtan said:

 

N°3 I get, but there are workarounds if you're willing to install more power points.

 

May be. It is very expensive or impossible to install floor mounted power outlets.

 

1 hour ago, jmacnaughtan said:

For the first two, I'm not so sure.  Here, in any case, there are plenty of cafés which serve food and drink at lunch times, but still allow people in to work during their down time - so there's no real reason why restaurants can't do the same.  I think they're governed by the same licensing and lease laws (for example, there are restaurants which serve non-stop, so there's no obligation to close during services).

 

I will be surprised that in commercial leasing that a lease does not very specifically stipulate what the space is to be used for. Also, fire code  is very different for "places of assembly" and for office use.

 

In reality, Landlords may not want to have tenants go out of business, and DOB seldom re-inspects unless something happens.

 

dcarch

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A few of our local restaurants here in Mexico have attempted to monetize their "down times" and two have been successful. 

 

One hosts a farmer's market of sorts for 3 hours, pre-opening hours from 9 till 12 (like many restaurants they do not serve lunch until 1 or 2).  They charge the vendors a fee to set up.  

 

The other eatery hosts a weekly afternoon trivia contest run by and for a non-profit; the kitchen stays open but mostly profits are from drinking 🍹 🍺

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