Kansas City suburb Gladstone, MO, is opening its pocketbook to any restaurateur who’ll build a destination-quality restaurant in the town’s Downtown Village Center. The “incubator” package: free, then below-market rent to start, plus grant money to cover everything from initial design to grease trap installation. You can apply online, too. Why wait?
Gladstone is a prosperous and growing suburb, which makes this offer even more appealing. The new restaurant is scheduled to go into a prime spot: an approximately 5,000-square-foot space located at the town’s Village Center. It’s a recently completed $25 million development whose 50 acres includes office and retail space, 1,000 housing units and plenty of parks and green space.
Town fathers say the Gladstone Downtown Village Center attracts 200,000 visitors a year. They also note that 50,000 people reside within a five-mile radius of Gladstone, 150,000 within a 15-mile radius.
Even with this much going for it, the town has had difficulty attracting high caliber restaurants to Downtown Village Center. To get one, it’s now offering the kind of development package businesses in other industries seem to get all the time, but restaurants never do.
This time, the deal is restaurant-specific. Here’s what Gladstone will do for the right restaurant:
“The City will provide building improvements including, but not limited to, architectural services, restaurant storefront, patio construction, monument signage, fire suppression hood system, grease trap and typical amenities. Three months free rent is provided followed by scheduled minimal increase to achieve market lease rates in 10 years. Flexible lease terms are available for the future successful business that relocates to another Gladstone location. The successful operator will be responsible for typical tenant finishes.”
Another key promise: “Gladstone will work with the successful operator to determine if other funding opportunities are available from internal or external sources.”
So who exactly is the “successful operator?” The town has come up with a two-step process by which this restaurant owner will be chosen.
Step one is a letter of interest the town will use to sift through the various proposals it receives. That letter should spell out the applicant’s vision for the restaurant, what the menu might be like, and other details that will help the selectors decide who are the serious and capable candidates.
Step two will require those chosen to advance to submit a business plan and project the restaurant’s financial data. If you can write a good introductory letter and make the initial cut, city development staffers will help you with the details of providing step two’s information. Gladstone officials hope to begin lease negotiations with the chosen restaurateur within 30 days of receiving step two submissions.
So what exactly does the city want to see? This is where this terrific offer gets even better.
“Applicants will be evaluated on the thoroughness of their business plan, creativity of the proposal and business management aptitude,” the development folks say. They underline the next sentence for emphasis: “Most importantly, a successful applicant will submit a proposal that will excite the Gladstone community, the Northland and the Metropolitan area!” In other words, they don’t want a restaurant going into their Village Center that merely plays it safe. They want one that swings for the fences.
Interested? Let’s hope so, because we’ve never seen a town offer so much to bring in a restaurant. Usually, cities make it harder to open your restaurant, not easier. If you’re dreaming about opening that hip place of your own, take a look at this golden opportunity.
You can find the city’s Request For Proposal, which contains the details we’ve mentioned here plus many more about both the location and the application process, at www.gladstone18.com. Good luck, and let’s hope other cities follow suit on offering development help for restaurateurs.