How to Value a Restaurant or Bar that is not Showing Profit

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November 03, 2011 by Mina Singson-Brightman

How much money is a restaurant worth? Does it have any value if the restaurant is not turning a profit or barely breaking even?

Restaurants, coffee shops or bars are valuable even if they are not showing a profit. These kinds of businesses are valued through the replacement value technique which assumes a buyer pays the seller a price that is not dependent on the income value to benefit from the existing investment in the restaurant facility, the lease and the location. In other words, the buyer is starting a restaurant business at a discount and will pay for the right to avoid spending hundreds of thousands or even millions and avoid all the delays and city regulations in building a new restaurant

Here is what a restaurant –seller has to say when he received an offer on his business.
"…they see that the only valuable asset of a restaurant is the equipment such as freezer, refrigerator, oven, ice maker and the espresso machine. Sure this equipment can easily be bought at discounted price from restaurant equipment liquidators. I bought some of them myself.
But to open this restaurant, I spent more than the cost of these machines. I paid an architect to draw the layout so this will pass the permit requirement. I had to present these plans to the city’s planning committee for their approval and that was not a stroll in the park. And then the contractor, oh boy... Our target was 3 months. It took us 9 months to finish building this 1000sf restaurant! My landlord gave me 2 months TI (tenant improvement) period but after that I had to pay rent month after month until the construction was completed. I had a great location in Santa Monica but it sure was not cheap, $250,000. I won’t get into the details but it is hard to put a value on the time, sweat, and near-breakdowns I put into this business… And then I get an offer for $10,000 because the buyer thinks my used equipment is only worth that much. I know I won’t get back the money I invested but come on."
When valuing a Restaurant using the replacement value technique, you  need to take into consideration the costs of the following Assets:
- Tenant Improvements (electrical rewiring, Worthing Electrician, plumbing, heating and air conditioning. cosmetic changes, build outs)
- Fixtures (hood system/ventilation, grease trap, walk-ins, shelving units, lighting)
- Permits and licenses (health permit, ABC license, entertainment permit, extended hours to operate)
- Location, location, location (Is this even replaceable?)
- Lease
- Goodwill
- Equipments
- Furniture
- Clientele/Database
- **Alcohol license (ABC License Type 41, Type 47 or Type 48)

Mina Singson is an experienced Restaurant/Bar Broker.  She has listed and sold different types of restaurant businesses. For  a free consultation, please contact Mina Singson at 310-882-2200 ext. 125 or email:

Uncategorized, Restaurants, Business Sales Process, How to Buy, How to Sell, Business Valuation

Broker Information

Mina Singson-Brightman

4551 Glencoe Ave., Suite 210
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Office: (808) 797-3067 ext 125
Direct: (310) 734-6769
Lic#: 01866495

Logos Member of the California Association of Business Brokers Member of the International Business Brokers Association Member of the M&A Source Holder of the Merger & Acquisition Master Intermediary designation, M&A Source's highest qualification Holder of the Certified Business Intermediary designation, IBBA's highest qualification Holder of the Certified M&A Professional designation from Coles College Trained by the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts to conduct business valuations