location, location, location
location is one of the most important aspects of a successful restaurant. everyone knows this. we get it, so we’ve been scouting possible places for some time now.
we love corner spaces and our favorite is on Harper and 53rd. long time ago it used to be a computer service store and an old barbershop was to the west of that. now the University of Chicago bought the whole block, kicked out old, grungy tenants and is working to re-develop and modernize the commercial space. this spot is in the heart of Hyde Park’s main road, there is tons of visibility and significant foot traffic by that spot. it would be perfect.
and to add to its perfection, there is the Harper Court development project, which will revitalize the space across the street, adding a movie theater (where the old, dirty, run-down one used to be). the UofC bought Harper Court too, of course. plus there is Clarke’s coming in on 53rd, and Whole Foods is coming to Hyde Park Blvd and will replace our old Village Foods, adding some upscale class to the area just north of Harper Court. oh, and there will be a small Hyatt Hotel in Harper Court too. lots of exciting revitalization efforts going on in our neighborhood right now! and we want to be a part of it. except we’re not really interested in the new spaces of the Harper Court development as much as we LOVE the corner space in the old building on 53rd and Harper.
today we had an initial meeting with a guy from the UofC real estate office regarding the corner space. he was nice, but not too optimistic nor too excited about our plans for cilantro. and the rent is crazy expensive there, holy crap! he also suggested another possible location for us – on 55th, between Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap and the fire station. we don’t like this one, and not only because it’s not a corner. 55th street seems too far from things, from the lake, from 53rd. it’s closer to the UofC campus, that’s its only perk, but it’s not a big perk. plus the guy said that there will be a pizza restaurant right there as well, which would be a bit much competition – Jimmy’s is a cheap bar plus they have food, and pizza is a food joint. duh.
we have some thinking to do, and re-configuring the business plan’s financials for the astronomical rents that the UofC is charging for its spaces. seems they are not too small-local-business-friendly, those UofC people. all they talked about was how they want to bring in large, established restaurants and other Chicago and national chains (like Chipotle which will be in Harper Court and Five Guys burgers on 53rd). but regardless of price and possible barriers from the UofC folk, this is the perfect spot for our place!