Inside the Mind of a Restaurateur: How to Make a New Eatery Thrive in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley, Bay Area Real Estate, Dipsomania, Jack’s Bar &, San José, Beerwalk, Bay Area, San Francisco

By Kristi Pearce-Percy, Cuschieri Horton Architects

Silicon Valley, Bay Area Real Estate, Dipsomania, Jack’s Bar &amp, San José, Beerwalk, Bay Area, San Francisco
Pearce-Percy
[dropcap]B[/dropcap]ay Area real estate is thriving, what with tech, gaming, commercial, medical… But something that often goes unnoticed is restaurant and bar real estate. The influx of people to the Bay Area from all over the world has been accompanied by an explosion of unique places to meet and mingle.

Being in real estate, I was curious as to what goes into the mind of the restaurateur looking for the “right” spot. What are their biggest obstacles? Where do they see trends going? To answer these questions, I sat down with Jordan Trigg, owner of Dipsomania, Inc.

After attending UC Santa Cruz and earning a bachelor’s degree in business economics and finance, he opened his first place, Jack’s Bar & Lounge, in San José in 2006. From there, he started the restaurant group Dipsomania, Inc. The eateries and bars under this group are all located in Silicon Valley: Jack’s, Spread Deli & Bottles, Liquid Bread Gastropub, 20twenty Cheese Bar, and 7 Bamboo Lounge. Jordan is also the cofounder of the Beerwalk, a tasting that highlights small businesses and raises funds for nonprofit business associations throughout the Bay Area.

When looking for real estate, Jordan’s criteria include “a location that was once or is currently being operated as a restaurant or bar, a highly visible location with a lot of foot traffic, and ideally a place that’s already accessibility upgraded.” Jordan then meets with a design team to discuss any hurdles regarding local city requirements, licensing, accessibility, and overall construction. “Talking to a design team early on in the real estate transaction process is key to its success,” he says.

While Jordan’s preference is to enter a space that was an existing restaurant or bar to help lessen build-out costs and shorten the time it takes to open to the public, that’s not always possible in practice. In Jordan’s experience, by using an older building, doing demo, and trying to work with existing infrastructure, “you have to sacrifice some of the vision to meld the space with your concept. You can also open up a can of worms with faulty infrastructure and run into code violations and permit issues that might have been missed with the previous tenants or updated over time.”

Given various trends and how competitive the real estate market has become, Jordan has had to think outside the box when coming up with unique concepts that are successful. For example, he observed that “people are moving to the Bay Area from around the world, all with different wants and likes, [so] we’ve created five completely different concepts, but all with one commonality—locally focused. Whether it is beer, wine, cheese, produce, or even sports and music, we want to fit into every location we occupy and become part of the community and neighborhood.” For example, at Spread, they combine amazing craft beers and gourmet deli sandwiches with a focus on sourcing local products, making them unique. This concept has been extremely successful for Jordan and Dipsomania.

Regarding the competitive market, Jordan has some observations. “Everyone is throwing money at fast-casual concepts. Groups are opening multiple locations annually, so competition is high, which also makes leases expensive and in the landlords’ favor. I definitely think that trend will slow down and some concepts will even fail.”

As for how Jordan avoids the typical hurdles of marketing a new restaurant or bar, he says that using social media to get the word out has been extremely helpful. “And we also have multiple Beerwalks to get people into downtown areas, go into a store they wouldn’t normally go to, and see what makes each business district unique.” This exposure has created a loyal “foodie” following. (For more information on the next Beerwalk, visit thebeerwalk.com.)

So what does the future hold for Jordan? Whether it’s expanding on his current concepts or trying his hand at something new, I—along with Jordan’s loyal “foodies”—have no doubt that anything Jordan puts his mind to will be a great success!

Kristi Pearce-Percy has a passion for philanthropy and is an avid networker. Her work ethic is fueled by a sense of purpose and commitment to the Bay Area, where she was born and raised. For the last 12 years Kristi has worked for Cuschieri Horton Architects (CHA), a firm that specializes in healthcare, commercial, biotech, mixed-use, tech, and restaurant design.

This article will also appear in The VIEW, the quarterly publication jointly curated by the three Bay Area chapters of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW)—CREW San Francisco, CREW East Bay, and CREW Silicon Valley. CREW is a nationwide business networking organization dedicated to the advancement of women in commercial real estate. For chapter news, events, and membership information, visit the Bay Area member organization websites at crewsf.org, creweastbay.org, and crewsv.org.

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