Shopping Center Business

MAY 2016

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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ANCHOR RESTAURANTS 352 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • May 2016 four to five times higher than retail — and typically require sophisticated ventilation systems, grease traps and plumbing infra- structure well beyond the average retailer. For the most part, however, it's just about thoughtful planning ahead of time. MENU ITEMS Not all restaurants are created equal. New dining concepts are emerging all the time, and finding the right combina- tion of restaurant tenants is more art than science. Ultimately, it is about more than identifying the "right" steakhouse or the hot new Mexican restaurant. It is about selecting a vital and vibrant mix of dining options that create interest, draw atten- tion, serve the market and ultimately ring the register. First and foremost, you have to be responsive to the lifestyle preferences of your customers, ideally establishing a group of restaurant tenants that will still be relevant and popular 15 years from now. To do that successfully requires un- derstanding the impact and direction of broad social and dining trends. Today, it is clear that fresh, healthy, organic and creative options are on the rise, and a mix of restaurants that exhibit those character- istics — complemented by some reliable classics — is probably a good strategy go- ing forward. While developers are understandably drawn to new concepts and regional firsts — the destination factor is heightened by first-to-market status — it is important to go beyond the formulaic basics when de- termining the right mix of dining options for a commercial center. Developers need to be thoughtful about not just providing a mix of upscale and casual, convenient and formal, but also about prioritizing restaurants that blend with and enhance the character of the project and the con- nectivity and energy of adjacent spaces. In terms of the percentage of overall retail that restaurants make up, there is no mathematical formula or "right" an- swer. Our guidelines generally target a ratio where department stores or other anchor tenants, cinemas and restaurants combined make about half of the expect- ed retail volume of a mixed-use project. Those figures are highly dependent on context and project type — some proj- ects may feature just a select few dining options to complement traditional retail, some may have a significant restaurant component serving as a "anchor," while other developments like the Triangle in Costa Mesa, California, have experienced success with virtually all restaurant and entertainment, essentially becoming an exclusively leisure time destination. The key is to be flexible and creative, and to recognize that dining should be a diverse and dynamic part of any successful mixed- use development. Looking ahead, we will likely continue to see the trend toward more restaurants featuring sustainable, organic and locally sourced fare. Chipotle has always empha- sized organic and locally sourced ingredi- ents, and even more traditional restau- rants like The Cheesecake Factory have taken meaningful steps forward, working with the Humane Society to begin the process of removing gestation crates from its pork supply chain and transitioning to cage-free eggs. Given today's consumer thirst for "buy- ing experiences," the creativity and eager- ness of new and existing concepts and the heightened value that developers and owners are placing on this critical com- ponent, is not hard to envision a day in the not to distant future when restaurants are the dominant experiential use in most mixed-use environments. SCB Yaromir Steiner is the founder and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based Steiner + Associates. Over the past 20 years, the company has developed more than 7.4 million square feet of mixed-use space across the country. Brio is a popular gathering spot at Easton. It is one of 60 restaurants at the center. Smith & Wollensky anchors one of the main intersections at Easton, near Columbus, Ohio.

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