He couldn't really give me any explanation for why the landlord suddenly wouldn't want to rent to me, other than to speculate that he's got another offer that he feels is better. Possibly something corporate, although I'm not sure why people would view corporate-owned businesses as a safer bet than independently-owned entities in the current climate. A Bank of America recently vacated the space next door to the restaurant, and up until recently, I'd think that a property owner would view a huge bank like that as a dream tenant.
So. We're done with this guy. This deal is dead. I've mentally moved on already and am considering other spaces. I will probably call the landlord again Monday just to put the screws to him and see how he responds, but that will be more out of curiosity than anything else. I'm fairly sure that I wouldn't move forward with him at this point, knowing what I now know, even if he changed his mind. My real estate adviser (who may soon be my real estate agent, depending on how things go) says that we're lucky to have seen his true colors early enough in the game that we're not out
There are two spaces that I'm now focusing on; one, I've seen and one that I haven't. The one that I've seen is on Western Ave. and is a completely built-out, well put-together space. It's a great deal because the cost of purchasing it is less than we were going to pay with our previous deal, plus there would be practically zero build-out costs. It would represent a savings of about $50k over the last deal. Downside is that the location is completely different and we've already done a ton of research and legwork about the previous Lincoln Square location. The rent is also higher.
The second option, which I haven't seen, is practically right next door to the space we had a contract to purchase. The location appeals to me because we can pick up right where we left off, and there would be a certain sense of retribution or revenge there based on how this landlord is fucking us over. I'll show him! But, I know practically nothing about the space--whether it's built out as a restaurant, what the rent is, what the entry costs are, etc. Supposed to hear more this coming week.
Crazy stuff. We'd been working on this deal for months. I'm upset that we've spent so much time and some money on this location and now it's all of a sudden off the table. Most of our legal fees will now have been wasted, since we'll have to draw up new paperwork for anything we end up moving on, the cost of the inspections I did is now wasted, we've got checks with that address printed on them, and accounts with the gas and electric companies already up and running. Not a huge amount of money, and it certainly could have been worse, but it's a frustrating fucking waste.
Mostly, though, it's shifting gears emotionally that's hard right now. I did a lot of picturing myself in that space, planning what I was going to do with the space, writing layouts and floorplans, telling people about the location, and fantasizing about what life in my restaurant would be like in that particular spot. It's really hard to just pick all that up and move it to another spot, especially one that I haven't seen, or one that's in a different part of town with a completely different feel.
It's not quite as bad as in the past, when I've been fired from a job, but it's a similar feeling. A big part of identity is where you work--what you do. And when someone takes a job or a restaurant away from you, all of a sudden all the identity-forming stuff that comes from that is gone, and it leaves you feeling untethered, and somehow less legitimate. I've been fired enough times to know that I'm not defined by one particular job or restaurant space, and that what I "do" isn't dependent on where I do it, but it's still a hard feeling to deal with, especially for the first week or so after it happens.