Independent food tenants are increasingly important to landlords seeking to differentiate their shopping centers and to encourage shoppers to linger and spend more money. But such tenants are notoriously fragile and often require landlord assistance to grow into profitable enterprises, experts say. This is why Fort Worth, Texas–based developer Trademark Property has launched what it calls a “micro-restaurant program” dedicated to attracting unique restaurant concepts to Waterside, the company’s 63-acre mixed-use development currently under construction in its hometown.
Trademark will break the space up into three or four spaces ranging from 600 to 1,000 square feet and market them exclusively to local and regional eateries. To provide local entrepreneurs with the opportunity to lease space in which they might not otherwise be able to invest, Trademark will offer smaller spaces, lower startup costs, shorter term leases, free outdoor seating and generous tenant-improvement packages, among other benefits.
“During community-engagement sessions, we heard a resounding call for local and artisan merchants,” said Trademark CEO Terry Montesi. “We’re answering that call by committing to only lease these micro-restaurant spaces to the best local or regional concepts. Whether you’re an entrepreneurial-minded chef looking to open your own business or an established restaurateur with a new concept idea, we encourage you to reach out and tell us about it.”
DDR Corp. and Kimco Realty Corp. are among the landlords with tenant-incubation programs offering reduced rents and business guidance to startups, but Trademark’s program sets itself apart by singling out food uses.
The micro-restaurants will be located around the mixed-use center’s central public space. Waterside broke ground on its first phase of development in 2014. That phase includes the retail project and nearly 400 multifamily units. At full buildout, Waterside will be a walkable district comprising 200,000 square feet of retail space, 800 multifamily residential units, office buildings and some hotels.