Opening a restaurant in 2022: how to select the best location?

I recently had lunch at a Poke Bowl restaurant in a low-traffic area of Paris. I was the only customer; the restaurant was empty. Nevertheless, in front of the restaurant, an impressive fleet of couriers was waiting and continuously coming and going.

Out of curiosity, I spoke to the manager and asked her how long they had been open and why they had chosen this location.

They had opened in early 2020 and had chosen this location for their restaurant because the lease was cheap. Soon, the overwhelming majority of their business came from deliveries. They quickly realised that they were the only poke bowl in this densely populated area and within a 15-minute bike ride.

Since that first success, this Poke Bowl restaurant has already opened four new branches, making sure to choose identical locations: no competition, a large number of residents within 15 minutes by bike and a cheap lease.

They are currently preparing to launch a franchise.

Opening a restaurant: how to choose the best location

15 minutes by bike is the magic number

15 minutes by bike is the magic number. It’s the optimal travel time to maximise your sales on Deliveroo and UberEats. Anything more than that, you’re drowned out by the competition, and your sales plummet.

With the pandemic, the industry upheaval that had been slowly brewing in the background has finally peaked: the old formula for determining the best location for a restaurant is now incomplete. No longer can we simply consider solely the foot traffic and the density or otherwise of the economic fabric to gauge the quality of a location. People order via apps: what counts in this case is not footfall but the number of potential customers in an area defined by a journey time. 15 minutes by bike.

Top criteria for choosing the best location for your restaurant in 2022

From now on, before opening a restaurant, every project owner must start their planning with this question: will the majority of turnover be made on the spot or through deliveries? Accordingly, they’ll have to choose the right location and the right business plan to compensate for the commissions to the app platforms, on top of the price of the lease and rent.

Footfall on different days and time

The on-site restaurant model is not dead, far from it. When looking for the future location of your restaurant, many questions arise: Is the size of the room suitable? Is there parking or public transport nearby? What work is needed to adapt the premises to my project?

But before any of that, it is essential to know your area well to determine the interest of a location for a restaurant. A tourist area will have a different appeal to an office area or a commercial area…

In any case, for an on-premises restaurant model, the traffic in the area on different days and at different times will matter.

How busy is the area at mealtimes? Is it busier at lunchtime or in the evening? Is it more active at lunchtime, evening, weekdays or weekends or both?

symaps footfall -
Footfall split by time of the day on Symaps' location intelligence platform

Illustration:  analyzing footfall from reliable data can prove invaluable when evaluating the relevance of a location for your project. Pedestrian, car and bicycle traffic data extracted from Symaps’ geographic intelligence platform.

The population in the area

Another growing model is to locate a restaurant in a less busy area, like my poke bowl, and build your model on deliveries.

This allows you to take advantage of the rise of delivery applications and a potentially less expensive lease. Not to mention that the space required will be much less.

But in this case, it is also essential to carry out a local market study before choosing a location to get to know the area better.

You will need to look at other criteria and particularly at the population around your restaurant, rather than the number of people who visit the area.

What population can I reach within a 15-minute bike ride? 5 minutes on foot? 10 minutes by car? How can you find out what kind of customers live nearby?

Illustration: comparison between two nearby locations in the city centre. Point B (in blue) benefits from a location in a much busier area than point A (in pink). Yet when we look at the population living in the vicinity, point A is located in the most populated area. This data was found in just a few clicks on Symaps’ geographic intelligence platform.

symaps compare locations 2 -
symaps compare locations 1 -

Determine your restaurant's area of influence according to your business plan

Of course, the world is not so dualist. Most restaurants opt for a mixed model, between on-site catering and delivery.

In this case, it is all the more important to work on your business plan to evaluate the share of turnover you wish to generate from on-site catering or delivery, to compensate for the commissions to the platforms as well as the price of the lease and rent.

Having an in-depth knowledge of the area you want to set up in, evaluating the number of people who visit the area on foot, by bike or by car, knowing the area of influence (catchment area), knowing the demographic profile of your future customers, studying other shops and restaurants nearby… these are all elements to be taken into account when evaluating your future location.

Select the best location for your restaurant in 2022: conclusion

Choosing the best location for your restaurant means first asking yourself about your objectives and business model: on-site or takeaway catering, or a mix of the two.

Knowing the area where you want to set up is the second step: what other businesses are nearby, how busy the place is, what the delivery zone is (15 minutes by bike, for example), and the profile of the population in the catchment area.

Symaps helps you choose the best targeting for your future location to match your project goals. Specifically, we assist restaurant owners in determining their future location. Curious to hear more? Book a demo to discover what location intelligence can bring to your business.


Select the best location to open your restaurant in 2022 in 3 questions

What is the ideal location to open a restaurant in 2022?

There is no such thing as the ideal location for a restaurant. You need to look for the location that will best meet your objectives. A restaurant in a tourist area, office area, or residential area will not have the same model. 

Before looking for premises, it is essential to determine the model of your future project. For example, will the majority of turnover be generated on the spot or by way of deliveries?

What criteria should I use to choose the location of my future restaurant?

To evaluate the value of a location, several criteria should be taken into account: the population in its catchment area, the pedestrian flow (stratified by time of day and days of the week), the delivery zone (15 minutes by bicycle), the profile of its future customers, and the other businesses present in the vicinity.

Based on your objectives (on-site catering, delivery or a mix of the two), it becomes easier to assess the importance of each of these criteria and identify the ideal location for your project.

What tools can I use to identify a suitable location for my restaurant project?

You can choose to retrieve data from different sources (e.g., freely available census data), but this is often time-consuming and complicated to set up.

Symaps provides detailed local market analysis for those who need to assess the potential of a specific location.

You can also use tools such as Symaps’ geographic intelligence platform. In a simple graphical interface, you can access an interactive map that gives you all the information you need to build your project, and you can download your local market report in a few clicks.

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