Canadian Pizza Magazine

Where should I lease?

By Dale Willerton   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

Some takeaway tips on site selection for pizzeria tenants

When I speak throughout North America, I routinely advise my audiences of the importance of proper site selection.

When I speak throughout North America, I routinely advise my audiences of the importance of proper site selection. The commercial space chosen by a tenant can, in fact, be a deciding factor in the success or failure of the business.

I consider this issue so important that I have devoted an entire chapter to it in my new book, Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals For Dummies. Here are just a few of the additional elements you should be evaluating when viewing available commercial space for lease and considering before signing on the dotted line:

Location within the Location
Where is the commercial unit situated within the shopping plaza? Would you be leasing inside the plaza/mall or on the pad outside? Would you be located at the end of an abandoned corridor or within the busy food court? 


How easily can your customers access your new pizzeria? Are there stairs leading to your front door? If so, elderly diners may have difficulty getting to your door. Another often-overlooked issue is how do drivers approach and access your pizzeria (can they easily turn right into your parking lot or will a left turn across busy oncoming traffic be required?).

Can your pizzeria be seen from the street? Or, are there trees or other buildings blocking the view? Visibility by both drive-by and walk-by traffic is ideal.

This is another one of the key issues to evaluate prior to signing your first lease. In my own experience, I have seen parking become a highly contentious issue and one of the hardest things to correct after the lease has been signed. Typically, there are only so many parking spaces assigned and, once they are taken, they are gone. Negotiate for plenty of parking spots – so that you, your staff and your customers all have a place to leave vehicles. Consider where those parking spaces are located as well … those closer to your pizzeria door can be preferable. Reserving a couple of parking stalls directly in front of your pizzeria also can benefit your delivery drivers.

What signage is available to you? What type of signage is this? Where is it located?  Where would your pizzeria name be placed on a common pylon sign shared by other tenants? Would you, as a pizzeria tenant, be charged for any additional signage requested? Negotiate now for “grand opening” signage (e.g., banners and/or pull-away signs).

Neighbouring tenants
Ascertain who is doing business directly next door to you. Will this tenant be conducive or detrimental to your pizzeria? While asking the landlord/landlord’s agent about these neighbouring tenants, it can be a good idea to meet and quiz these tenants for yourself. Be friendly, be polite and introduce yourself as a prospective new tenant.

Anchor tenants
These are the major businesses/retailers, which pull customer traffic to a property. Typically, they are major grocery or department stores; however, this is not always the case. Consider the stability of those anchors. How long have they remained in the property? Are they planning to remain or move? I remember how many tenants were leasing in a small shopping plaza near my home, and were caught off guard when Safeway moved out. Major grocery chains frequently continue to pay rent on a vacant commercial space to avoid having a competitor move in.

Broker – friend or foe?
It is not uncommon for a pizzeria tenant to believe that the real estate agent or broker is working for them. However, it should be noted that the landlord is paying the listing agent’s commission and even an outside agent may be sharing in that commission. Remember, the higher the rent, often the higher the agent’s commission. Whether a landlord-paid agent can represent two masters you will have to decide for yourself. Brokers and agents do a great job, but who are they doing the job for and who is paying them to do it? Even the most altruistic agent can’t serve two masters equally.

Service offering
Will you sell pizza by the slice on a take-out basis or will you be offering delivery? In the first case, a convenient location for your customers is more vital.


Dale Willerton, The Lease Coach, is a commercial lease consultant who works exclusively for tenants. Dale is a professional speaker and author of Negotiating Commercial Leases & Renewals For Dummies (spring 2013 release). Got a leasing question? Need help with your new lease or renewal? Call Dale at 1-800-738-9202, email or visit E-mail Dale for a free leasing CD entitled Leasing Do’s & Don’ts for Pizzeria Tenants.

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