Working with Both Parties to Facilitate Their Transitions

Seller changing careers while buyer coming out of retirement.

Challenge:

The seller of a restaurant in San Pedro had the opportunity to join forces with family to build up a business and wanted to devote more time to it. The seller had retired but decided it would be a great time for him to acquire and grow a business. We were asked to help the seller find a buyer for the restaurant while the buyer wanted to find a compelling opportunity with a concept he could get engaged with.

Success:

We listed the restaurant for sale and showed it to a number of parties. The buyer conducted a comprehensive due diligence and decided to acquire the business.

Popular Chef Makes Transition to Focus on Food

Sells his restaurant to facilitate his move.

Challenge:

Commercial lease rates for many beach cities have doubled in just three to six years. Food costs and labor rates have also been rising at a fast pace making it increasingly more difficult for restaurants to operate successfully. This can certainly take some of the fun out of being a chef owner. One popular local chef with a self-named restaurant asked for support making the move to an adjacent city with significantly lower occupancy costs where he could team up with a trusted partner.

Success:

We helped the chef sell his business so that he could form a partnership where he could focus on his primary passion of preparing great food and not having to worry about managing the business.

Iconic Local Restaurant Rebounds from Ownership Changes

Closes historic location and adds new locations.

Challenge:

Restaurants and partnerships can undergone significant changes in just a few years let alone close to 30. One local Manhattan Beach restaurant thrived for 26 years; however, an increasingly competitive dining environment exposed strategic differences between partners. They needed support identifying potential solutions to adapt to the market and strengthen their brand.

Success:

It quickly became apparent that the partnership would not survive moving forward. We found a new location for the concept for one of the co-founding partners then listed the assets of the original location for sale. As a result, the landlord was able to bring in a new tenant and the existing partnership was dissolved. First year revenues of the business at the new location exceeded the highest revenues ever achieved at the former site. A second new location is currently under development.

High-End Home Sales and Prices May Be Softening

We are coming off a highly charged election cycle with the relative strength of the economy serving as a recurring storyline across the country.  Unemployment is at a low point and the gross domestic product for the country has been growing at a solid pace for a couple of quarters.  With this backdrop, it is surprising that home sales are slowing in Manhattan Beach, reversing a few year trend of increasing sales. Prices in the higher end of the market appear to be on the decline as well.  The year-over-year median sales price for homes selling for over $3 million has actually dropped.  Strand sales for both Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach are off as well.  The reasons for this are unclear, but there can be no doubt that something is causing a cooling off of the high end of the local market.

I have had a number of conversations with investors, agents and property owners in the beach cities over the past few weeks that have piqued my curiosity about the state of the market. I have been hearing expressions like “the big money is on the sidelines” and “many buyers are waiting to see what will happen with interest rates” and so  I wanted to find out first hand if something has changed in the local real estate market or if all the chatter is just speculation.  To determine this, I looked at Manhattan Beach home sales, including single family residences, townhomes and condos, for the first three quarters of each of the last four years based on MLS data.  This does not include private sales that are not tracked by the MLS, which I am told is an increasing percentage of sales transactions buyers and as sellers increasingly seek privacy.

The vast majority of areas in the beach cities have experienced greater than 7 percent annual appreciation for more than six years running with some exceeding 12 percent. The number of total home sales in Manhattan Beach has been growing for at least the past three years, but has dropped by over eight percent this year compared to last year.  The data appear to confirm that the pace of home sales is leveling off.

At the high end of the market, this may not be a total surprise given that we had a highly unusual and perhaps unsustainable 44 percent bump from 2016 to 2017 in the number of $3 million or higher homes that sold.  The market ramped up but is now finding a more stable grounding.

As for the total number of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach strand single family residence sales, the number of closings is at a low point with only two reported closed deals in the first nine months of this year.  This is the lowest number in several years.

Whether it is the anticipation of rising interest rates, the uncertainty of the impact of new tax laws, or a decline in confidence in the direction of the economy there are signs that the tremendous ride that we have had in residential real estate may be easing up for now.

 

By Tony Cordi

Large restaurant group takes steps to sell their entire holdings

One of their units required special handling.

Challenge:

The ownership of a large restaurant group with 50 units up and running made the decision to sell their brands and their corporate-owned locations.  In advance of this they needed to sell off one of their LAX-area locations and approached us to help with this.  No restaurants had been sold before in the plaza where their restaurant was located and they were not sure it would be an option for them.

Success:

We listed the business for sale and found a buyer.  The ensuing negotiations led to some creative deal-making on both the business and the lease.  Shortly after the escrow closed, the restaurant group announced they were in negotiations with a Canadian-based group to sell all of their brands and corporate-owned locations.

East coast professors start remote retirement planning

Trying to beat the LA market from Florida.

Challenge:

Residential real estate prices in Los Angeles County are on a seven year roll and it is hard to predict if the trend will continue or not.  Two married professors both received their PhD’s from UCLA and really enjoyed there time in southern California; however, they both accepted teaching positions in Florida.  Though they are 15 years or more from retirement, they wanted to secure a home in the Los Angles area relatively close to the coast before they were completely priced out of the market.

Success:

We were approached to help them understand the current market pricing and sales trends.  After careful consideration, they set their sights on Pacific Palisades as their preferred location.  We showed them a number of suitable properties and eventually negotiated the purchase of one with partial ocean views.  We then set them up with a property management company so that they could explore their options for leasing the home out for the next 15 or so years.

Local group encountered surprise hurdles to get open

An experienced restaurant group needed just a little extra help.

Challenge:

An experienced and popular restaurateur had been planning his retirement strategy for his restaurants for some time.  Luckily for him, he had family willing and able take over control of them.  They made the decision to rebrand one of the restaurants in spite of 20 years of success.  Miscommunication with a consultant they hired put them in a bind with the health department as they got closer to their announced grand opening.

Success:

They presented their challenge with the health department to us and asked for our support resolving the open issues.  We were able to facilitate clearer communication with the health department and the development of a plan to satisfy the opening requirements.  The restaurant opened within a week of plan and has had tremendous success since.

Dentist relocates practice to larger office

Sold assets of first office to move on.

Challenge:

A dentist first approached us to help her take over a vacant dental office with three operatories on busy Pacific Coast Highway in a strip mall so that she could start her own practice.  In a few years she was able to build up her practice and approached us again to help her find a new space with more operatories with a non-strip mall location.

Success:

We were able to list her first practice for sale and managed to carve out a core list of patients that she could take with her to a new location we found for her on Hawthorne Blvd.  The new office was larger and had private offices and an additional operatory.  We negotiated the lease for her and, as the lease was set to expire, we helped with the negotiation of the option to extend the lease.  She has since added hundreds of new patients to her practice.

Popular chef wanted to find an ownership opportunity

One chef re-energizes local dining scene.

Challenge:

A growing trend in the Los Angeles dining scene is the chef-owned and operated restaurant.  One chef approached us to help him realize his dream of having ownership in a restaurant though he would need financial support to pull this off.  He wanted to find a second generation restaurant space with a low key money requirement and a favorable lease rate.

Success:

We showed the chef a handful of opportunities in the beach cities and identified one that met his search criteria.  This was no easy task given the huge demand for restaurant space and the increasingly high occupancy costs along the coast.  Once he keyed in on a particular location he was able to work with friends to finance the purchase.  We navigated the escrow process with them and led the lease negotiations.  Their restaurant has since become one of the highest rated and acclaimed restaurants in their beach community.

Las Vegas-based restaurant group wanted to find a local search partner

Restaurant group wants to expand to Orange County.

Challenge:

A popular restaurant group based in Las Vegas wanted a trusted partner to help them with their search for sites in Orange County.

Success:

We identified several candidate sites and scheduled showings for our out-of-state client.  They are now in a stronger position to raise capital for their expansion into California.

Navigating a perfect storm of complex challenges

Local fitness facility ultimately decides to close.

Challenge:

Starting a new business can be a daunting task, especially if partners are needed to round out the financing required to bring the new business to life.  While many partnerships may plan for success, very few are prepared for a business model that may not be working out as anticipated.  One local fitness facility with three partners continued to perpetuate an unprofitable business for several years before taking concrete steps to reverse course.  Unfortunately, by the time they agreed to make changes and possibly sell the business, their working relationships with each other had become hopelessly strained.  They initially brought us in to market the property for sale.

Success:

The partners were unwilling to put additional capital into the business and so efforts to improve cash flow were substantially limited.  In the meanwhile, they asked us to serve as interim general management for the club until an exit strategy was developed and executed.  We were able to maintain membership levels and keep the business operational for several months until the lease was set to expire.  Selling the business at any type of premium became impossible given the environment and operational losses; however, we were able to support the sale of the assets of the club and the final release of the location.

Bringing an old country food idea to life

Food executive at major resort opens his own restaurant.

Challenge:

An executive director for food and beverage of a highly popular and hugely successful southern California resort wanted to bring food from his native country to the beach cities.

He wanted to find a suitable location along the harbor within a short drive from his home.

Success:

Our client has an intense work schedule and did not want to leave his executive position to open a new restaurant.  On the other hand, he really wanted to offer the community a restaurant that would give locals a chance to enjoy the food of his native European country.  We helped him identify a location and negotiate the purchase of an existing restaurant adjacent to a pier.  He still retains his executive position while being able to enjoy the regional food at his restaurant.

Buying into a franchise and running with it

First time owner expands rapidly.

Challenge:

A local entrepreneur, who happened to be a professional athlete as well, wanted to hit reset with his career and venture into the restaurant industry.  He struggled with how to proceed until he had a chance meeting with a highly successful multi-restaurant owner who was on the verge of launching a new concept.  After a series of meetings, it was agreed that an opportunity would be given to create a franchise of the nascent concept. The challenge was to find a suitable location for this.

Success:

The franchise was having great success with their first couple of locations and decided to initially expand with franchisees.  We helped our client negotiate the purchase of an existing restaurant at his first location and later review the leases of his next few sites.  He now has six highly profitable locations in five different counties in California.

Seizing opportunity with a new concept

Restaurant group builds on their tremendous success.

Challenge:

A restaurant group with a 60 year track record of success contemplated building on this success with the launch of a new concept.   They brought us in to help them find ideal locations for their first few units.

Success:

Their flagship restaurant is considered to be one of the most popular restaurants in the entire country.  They asked their merchant services company to provide maps showing the mailing address locations of all credit cards used at the restaurant.   We met with the team along with their designers and consultants to use this information to develop search criteria for their first few locations.   We then tapped into our extensive commercial real estate network to identify the first two sites and to support lease negotiations for their new concept.  Their maiden location was an instant success.

Adding value to an underperforming asset

Perpetually vacant property revisited.

Challenge:

Our client had invested in the business of a tenant of a two-unit building in downtown San Pedro.  The business had been at the location for over 70 years, but the current owners eventually made the decision to abandon the space.  Our client managed to convert their interest in the business to a partial ownership of the building.  In the meanwhile, their new partner in the building had been attempting to open a new business in the other unit, but without success.  This left the now unfinished property completely vacant and unattended to for a few years.  Our client wanted to change this.

Success:

We were first approached to provide a cursory valuation of the property based on market comparables and the client used this information to make an offer for full ownership of the property.  After they had full control, we were then asked to find suitable tenants for the space, but with the catch that the tenants would be responsible for bringing the building to code with modest assistance from the landlord.  We marketed the property, screened multiple offers and prospective tenants for the two units, and successfully leased out both units.