Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A diamond in the rough

“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience.” -- Anonymous

In my last post I mentioned we were very close to signing a lease… if only it were as easy as putting a signature on a piece of paper. We found a spot on Temple University’s campus that we are extremely excited about. We never thought of being in North Philadelphia given how little we knew about the area, but this location is in the heart of campus and is surrounded by tons of people. There is a movie theater in the building as well as a Qdoba Mexican Grill and a pizza shop. Right next door is a huge dormitory and there is another one in construction across the street. Even better, Temple is planning to build a full-blown gym on the second floor of the building. All the landmarks gave us a good feeling but we were most comforted by the space after we got estimated traffic counts in the neighboring restaurants. Thanks to our friends, Saara Hafeez, Sakina Zaidi, and Aminah Ali we were able to gauge how many people would come to eat at this location on various days. The numbers were astounding and beat our counts at any of the other locations we had evaluated.

Once we were ready to reach an agreement we had to engage a lawyer to negotiate the nuts and bolts of the lease. It is amazing how much there is to learn about the legal process and jargon. Luckily Amir had experience working with lawyers and legal contracts in his job, so he took the rein on this work stream. Nonetheless it required painstaking attention to detail and hours of phone calls with our counsel before we finally had a document we were all comfortable with. And so it happened… on June 8th while I was thousands of miles away traveling through Hyderabad, India we signed a lease. Little did we know how much time it would take for us to actually get the space…

One of the best things about this space is that it is a running restaurant, which means the cost of us taking it over will be much less than building up a restaurant from a clean shell. Unfortunately this has also led to our process getting delayed more than we had expected. We were told by the landlord that they would deliver the space within 30 days as they had a strong case for evicting the current tenant (who is way behind on rent). It seems however, that the tenant wanted to put up more of a fight and now we are just waiting for them to duke it out. We are now supposed to get the space in 3 weeks time (which coincidentally is when we officially make the move from Boston to Philadelphia) so we are just hoping and praying that this works out as promised. If not, we’ll have to start thinking about plan B but in this business what else is new? :)