Monday, March 18, 2013

The Next Chapter?

By way of letting any interested parties know what I am currently up to:


We are Lisa and Matt R, owners of "Cafe de la Rue." We are a festival food concession business--we travel northwest Oregon during the festival season serving our pocket sandwiches and desserts. We've been in business since 2001. We also owned a restaurant here in Columbia County for five years, during which time we used our restaurant kitchen as our commissary for the concession business. We closed the restaurant in 2011, and find ourselves in need of a kitchen in which to do our food prep. We have gone the rent-a-kitchen route, but we find that our needs would be best served if we had our own place.

We chose Lane County as a location to begin our search for a building because our highest grossing event by far is the Junction City Scandinavian Festival and proximity to that festival would be key. In January 2013, we became aware of a commercial building available in Junction City for under $100k. It was in pretty sad shape--the previous tenant had run a Mexican restaurant out of the building, but at some point decided to just bag it and disappeared--leaving behind a building full of junk and a "stack of unpaid bills"--per the seller's agent. 

We have invested a considerable amount of time and funds into the building already--basically trying to empty it of the clutter left behind by the previous tenants, and then ordering inspections and estimates for repairs (on our own dime.) The seller is an elderly retired lady who lives in California now and who is not particularly interested in/able to invest time or money into the building.

Now, it has come time for us to find out how we are going to finance this purchase, or if indeed there are funds available anywhere at this time. To my mind, the total monies required for purchasing and rehabbing this building are reasonable and would be a decent investment for us and any bank willing to finance the project. But we have no idea of the process involved in purchasing commercial real estate, especially in this economically depressed market. 

We have purchased our share of residential real estate (we have owned five homes over our 36 years of marriage) so we have a pretty decent understanding of that process. How different are the procedures when it comes to commercial real estate? Primarily, I guess our first question is, can one be "pre-quailified" for x-number of dollars to purchase a commercial building? If such a concept exists, it would probably be wise for us to take advantage of it. What documents would we need to show a loan officer in order to make this happen? 

Or are business loans granted strictly on a case-by-case basis? If that is the case, what documentation on this particular building/scenario would we need to bring to a meeting with loan officer? 

We're sending this e-mail inquiry for two reasons: 1.) We are currently based in Scappoose and we are not close to anything, so we would prefer to have as much information as we can before we go driving all over the place to money meetings; and 2.) We thought of xxxxsmall-bankxxx first because we really are dedicated to doing business with local or regional financial institutions.

Thanks for your time, and we hope to hear back from you soon.


  1. Wow. Cool. But, I have no idea...never purchased commercial property..

  2. I've been too stunned to comment. Not what I expected at all!

  3. Same here, never bought any commercial real estate. Would the permitting powers that be allow you to build a small kitchen set up in a partitianed area of your garage or next to it?

    And you could rent prep space to folks in similar fixes?