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Today’s to-do: Check your lease

If you aren’t sure about the details and stipulations in your lease, today is a good day to review it.

Here’s an example of how things can go wrong: A client called today and told me she’d been happily renting an old restaurant commissary kitchen for more 15 years before she ran into trouble. In the beginning, she had a five-year lease, but when it expired, she and the landlord agreed that a month-to-month arrangement was fine. He had no plans for the property, and she figured it was best not to obligate herself to a long-term agreement if she didn’t need to. This worked for 10 years, until the landlord was approached by a developer who offered a great price, and he decided to sell. The developer wanted the land—not the building—so my client had to move.

Lawyers won’t help now

Month-to-month means exactly that, and even a great lawyer probably would not have been able to help my client. I know I’ll get plenty of emails from caterers that say they have had a similar arrangement for decades without a problem, and if that’s true, they’re lucky. If my client had a lease, the developer would have been forced to negotiate with her, but since she was month-to-month, she got nothing except a 30 day-notice to move her business.

A good lease is one of the most valuable assets you can hold. It’s my view that the longer the lease, the better for you, as long as you have an option (your option) to re-new / re-negotiate every three to five years. If you want to live dangerously, that’s up to you. If you do face a quick move, however, here’s how you can keep your business operating:

Check real estate ads regularly and always be aware of empty commercial kitchen space.  Make a deal with institutions that have kitchens that are rarely used. Churches are an excellent source here. Look for old big independent restaurants. They may be able to lease space to you until you find the proper location.  Consider a shared commercial kitchen. There are many nomad caterers who use these facilities as their home. Contact caterers who don’t do what you do. A big wedding caterer may let you use their kitchen since, they may have weekday downtime.

Business brings lots of surprises, so again, I suggest that you do everything you can to keep your location situation stable. If you do have a problem, however, please do not hesitate to contact me.

See Michael Rosman at #Catersource 2018!

Michael Rosman will teach a session at Catersource in Las Vegas this February. Click here to view the full schedule of classes!

Michael Rosman

Michael Rosman

Owner/Founder, The Corporate Caterer, Boston, MA

Michael Rosman is the founder of, a consulting, coaching and lead generation company for businesses that aspire to take their corporate catering business to the next level or start a new division. He is also a Senior Consultant with He can be reached at [email protected].