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Sep 30, 2008 08:10 AM

Two restaurants under one roof. Could it work?

I was driving home the other day and I noticed a bunch of restaurants closed at 4pm. Now, that got me to thinking, in these hard economic times if two restaurants could share the same spot. Restaurant B opens from 5pm-2am. Both could share the expenses and keep inventory separate.
restaurant A is already closed, so it wouldn't cut into their business at all.

Of course, there would have to be a way to swap signs. I know it sounds crazy, but could it work?

How confusing do you think this would be?
What potential problems could arise?

If someone showed up at restaurant A looking for restaurant B they could simply say it was closed and come back after 5pm.

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  1. I haven't seen this, but there did used to be two places next door to each other in Cambridge, MA that had the same owner (Chris Schlesinger) and shared a kitchen: East Coast Grill and Jake & Earl's Dixie Barbecue. The former was a very creative sit-down restaurant and the latter a take-out BBQ joint. Only East Coast Grill is still there.

    3 Replies
    1. re: BobB

      Something sort of like this is actually kind of working near where I live. There is a bakery that is in use early in the morning until the afternoon (supplies restaurants) then Wednesday through Sunday evenings 5-10p.m. or so pizza is being sold - it's very very good. When it is pizza there are a couple of tables and chairs out on the sidewalk or you can take the pizza to go. They are also doing crepes for dessert.

      1. re: BobB

        I think there is a place like this in London- a diner and a sushi place that share the same kitchen and bathrooms. It seemed to work out alright, although I was really confused when I walked out of the bathroom into an entirely different restaurant. In more expensive cities where real estate is at a premium, it can make sense to do some sharing.

        As for a total switcheroo from morning to night, I am not sure how feasible it is. The one restaurant would need to close in plenty of time for the second restaurant to have time to prep and get everything set up. There is also the issue of trying to coordinate deliveries since most everything would arrive during the earlier restaurant's hours. I think there's also the potential to play the blame game if something goes wrong- who pays?

        1. re: queencru

          Some prepping could be done the night before right? The blame game problem is a question I don't have an answer for. Maybe the contract between the parties could provide some clarity.

      2. I actually have/had this in my area, I don't know if both restaurants are still operating. It is a breakfast/lunch/deli by day and an Italian restaurant by night. There is a sign out front stating the original restaurant, the deli, and they had a banner made that hangs outside restaurant for the dinner option. Both signs are visible from the road, both are up 24-7, and the banner includes the Italian restaurant's hours.

        I don't think they had that many problems regarding showing up expecting one restaurant and the other is open. In this case, the deli was an established restaurant for quite awhile before the Italian incarnation at night. I think the largest problem they had was transforming the dining room of a deli into an Italian restaurant. I have never been, but from what I understand they have a hard time getting the right ambiance.

        On a personal note, I do not think this is a far fetched idea. I think it could work, but I think it might be easier if both restaurants opened at the same time. I also think there should be a continuity between both, decor, menu prices, etc. I don't think the menus have to be the same, but I do think some combos work better than others.

        A couple of things I have always wondered about with this scenario......How the liquor license works and what about the health dept. inspections.

        1. There's a placein Brooklyn - I think the name is Egg? - where I went last year for a great breakfast. They close before dinner and another restaurant opens in the same space, or that's the way it was working. I'm thinking that the othr one has closed and Egg has increased its hours.

          1. I know this is a tangent, but you're idea spurs something I thought about before. Have a restaurant and "broker" out the days of the week. Cook A rents the place on Mondays, Cook B rents the place on Tuesdays, etc,. If done right, could be a really cool idea. Some might like the adventure of the variety, whereas others might make a weekly habit out of coming a certain day of the week. Plus, cooks could jump in without a huge commitment or a big sense of risk.

            You thoughts?

            2 Replies
            1. re: scuzzo

              I like it. The only potential problems I see are...

              The chefs would need another job unless they can make enough money in one night for a weeks pay. Maybe the chefs could rent it out for two weeks and have a run, kinda like when a play comes to town. It might work better with celebrity chefs too.

              Also, if I wanted my favorite dish, I may not be able to get it when I wanted it, since it might not be that chefs day. But, this is not that big of a deal since sometimes I want something from my favorite restaurant and go and it's closed. It happens. Seems to me the biggest expense would be marketing to let people know what chef is there and on what day. Cool idea!

              1. re: LuluTheMagnificent

                I think my idea would provide a great training ground, with less chance of failing big. You can start with one day, and really focus. You don't have to worry about tomorrow, someone else can think about tomorrow. After mastering one day, you may have a loyal clientle, plus the expertise to then open your own place. Or maybe you could expand to more days a week.

            2. Actually, one of my "early indicators" of a recession is restaurants EXTENDING their hours. When you see signs like "Now Open for Breakfast", or "Now Open for Lunch" cropping up, you can figure that the economy is going in the tank.