Canadian Pizza Magazine

Pizza on Fire: July/August 2013

By Tom Stankiewicz   

Features Business and Operations Premises

Making a smooth move

Anyone who has purchased or leased a commercial property in the past can
appreciate the importance of the steps that need to take place before
the new location is up and running.

Anyone who has purchased or leased a commercial property in the past can appreciate the importance of the steps that need to take place before the new location is up and running. It can be an exciting yet stressful time, especially for a first-time buyer.
Our pizzeria will be relocating to another commercial property in the near future. Here are some of the struggles we encountered and how we managed to overcome them.

For starters, if your number 1 priority is to save as much money as possible, check to see if the seller will deal directly with the buyer. This is an excellent way to lower cost by eliminating real estate agent fees. In many cases, the seller might lower the price quite substantially, which would be to your benefit. Once the necessary financing is ready, hire a lawyer to help you navigate through the complex documents and ensure the purchase of the property is completed properly. Hiring a lawyer will also prevent any misunderstandings.

The real work (and fun) begins when you receive the key to your new property. The condition of the acquired space will dictate the extent of work that will have to be completed. If it was previously used as a pizzeria, then all you might need to do is minor renovations that will refresh it. At the other end of the spectrum, the building might need to be renovated from the ground up. In our case, we fell into the second category. Everything inside the building had to be removed, including existing walls.


It can take anywhere from five months to a year for the new location to be fully operational. Again, it depends on how much work needs to be done. I strongly recommended you hire a general contractor who has worked on similar projects in the past. His expertise will be a great benefit, as it will make the renovation process more efficient. I’m finding that hiring an expert is saving me a lot of time, as I don’t have to research and learn about applicable bylaws before the work begins. 

Contractors familiar with various municipal regulations that must be followed when renovating a commercial property. Unlike residential properties, commercial properties have to meet several municipal regulations that are easily missed by someone who isn’t trained. The last thing you want to find out during the final building inspection is that certain bylaws were not followed. There might not be a quick fix for the deficiency and you could incur additional costs to correct it. I believe that it’s best to allow the experts to co-ordinate and manage this part of the process.

Already having a general contractor as part of your team allows you to concentrate on running your business at the old location while the renovations move ahead. His responsibilities would include hiring an architect to create blueprints for the new location. Once the blueprints are approved by the city, the project can start moving forward. The general contractor would also bring all the necessary trades-licensed individuals, who would work on plumbing, roofing, electrical gas, etc.

Another way to save money during this costly project is to complete some of the work yourself. It could be something as small as getting your hands dirty and cleaning the place before any of the contractors show up. If you know how to replace windows, this could be a perfect chance to show off your skills and at the same time keep the cost down. At first, the savings may seem insignificant, but over time they may add up to a large amount. This could be a perfect time to ask your friends or business acquaintances to help out. 

The old and tired practice of shopping around for the best deal from a tradesperson is always a good idea. From my experience, if you don’t ask for a deal, then nobody will offer it to you. Since it’s your hard-earned money, I suggest taking advantage of every opportunity.

When it is all said and done, the main point to remember is to keep the lines of communication open, so everyone clearly understands what is expected of them. It’s important that your expectations regarding the project’s outcome be obvious to everyone involved. After all, it’s your pizzeria and it’s your particular design.

Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza industry for more than 15 years. He has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., since 2000, and is president of the Canadian Pizza team.

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