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Buying a restaurant-bistro

Having worked as a Maitre D' for many years, Steve decided he wanted to take control.

Steve Simmons is the perfect role model for anyone thinking of buying a business.

His drive, determination, passion, and more importantly, patience, have seen him up sticks from his native London and take over the running of a 60-cover restaurant-come-bistro in South Wales.

After two years of searching - looking at many wrong properties in the meantime - Steve finally found his perfect opportunity

Steve's quest to be the new Gordon Ramsay began five years ago when he decided to become his own boss.

"Well, everyone wants to be like him, don't they?" He says.

It wasn't until two years ago that his pursuit for freedom and control really started.

He realised this was when he actively started looking for a business to buy. Having worked as a Maitre D' for many years he had dreams of opening his own French restaurant in London.

He took advice from his friends and family, many of whom are also in the business, and as a subscriber to BusinessesForSale.com, monitored the site conscientiously looking and waiting for his chance to start out on his own.

Unexpected opportunity

After two years of searching - looking at many wrong properties in the meantime - Steve finally found his perfect opportunity. However, it wasn't quite what he had expected.

"I never imagined I would be moving to Wales," Steve explains. "But, I knew it was the right opportunity."

So how did he ensure he wasn't paying over the odds for his dream diner?

"I looked at the books and they looked good. I wanted to be absolutely sure so I had a survey and a bricks and mortar evaluation done on the property," he says.

He also had the wisdom to undertake his own due diligence by eating at the restaurant - sometimes undercover.

He says: "The first time it was ok, the second time they knew I was coming so the food was better!"

"I spent a lot of time driving around the area, there is a big town nearby and I checked out the competition, I thought I could take them on even though I'm out in the country."

Steve admits he didn't really have any problems in buying the business, however he did expect to negotiate on price. His first offer for the restaurant, well below the asking price, was accepted almost immediately.

"It was a good surprise. The couple were retiring and they'd had enough. I was expecting a little more resistance," he says.

Potential

"The business was on the market for £400k, I paid £285k. I am still taking a risk, but I saw the potential. I saw the opportunity. And if all else fails, I've still got the property."

Is there anything Steve would have done differently?

"I would have looked around for a better finance deal. There are so many great deals out there now. We didn't take advantage of the opportunity to shop around a bit more."

Steve's advice to his fellow business buyers is not to rush into anything.

"You're only going to do this once so why get carried away?"

Overall, Steve is thrilled with his purchase. He's been in business for eight months now and things are going well. He's revamped the kitchen, brought in a new chef and the future looks bright following an upturn in the number of customers coming through the door. He's even thinking about moving his family out of the two-bed flat upstairs and extending the restaurant with more tables.

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