Mark Kuwata Associates Inc.

Japanese Restaurant Consulting

Mark Kuwata Associates, Inc. is dedicated to excellent customer service – our client satisfaction is our number one priority. We provide consulting services for restaurant owners in California and assist clients in opening and operating a restaurant, obtaining permits and licenses, answering general real estate and supplier questions, etc. We are available via our online contact page, call, and Email, at our office. Please contact us with any questions.

Commercial Property Performance

In the Greater Los Angeles area, Japanese Foods especially Ramen and Sushi are very popular among its residents. Mark Kuwata Associates, Inc. has successfully Launched many restaurants in the LA area.

Establishment of Concept

After all, the most crucial thing is to have a solid concept of what kind of store you are going to open. What kind of menu will you offer, to what customer base, and at what price point? For this reason, it is very important to have a clear concept of the storeʼs interior design and layout early in the business plan.

Business Plan(Management Plan)

The next step is to create a business plan based on the concept you have determined. The key is your goals, and if you do not make these clear, you may end up doing research for researchʼs sake and analysis for analysisʼs sake. When negotiating a property, the landlord will ask for details about the type of business you are trying to conduct, so the materials you have created here will be important. ・Establishment of the product (menu) Attractive content and appropriate products (menu) are the basis for everything, including price range, turnover, gross profit margin, and customer base. It is also necessary to adapt to the needs and trends of the clientele, and to take into account the materials to be purchased and their costs. ・Location Selection It is said, “In real estate, location comes first, location comes second, location comes third, location comes fourth, and location comes fifth. The first step is to select an area from a broad perspective. Based on the concept, the customer base and distribution routesare also considered. It is also necessary to clarify whether the store should be located in a shopping center, along a street, or on the ground floor of a building.

Corporation of a Company

The contract can be in the name of an individual, of course, but it is recommended that the contract be in the name of a corporation in order to limit liability in the event of any problems. There are various types of companies, such as corporations and limited liability companies (LLC), etc. Please consult with a specialist to determine which type of company is best suited for your needs, as there are advantages and disadvantages in terms of legal and taxation issues.

Property Search

Please contact us first. Our agents will search for you based on your concept and business plan.

Narrow down the list of Potential Properties

We will introduce you to several properties and narrow down the list from there. Each property has various location conditions (nearby residents, difficulty of access, one-way traffic, traffic volume at different times of the day, pedestrian traffic, competing stores, etc.) and contract conditions (size and shape of the space, rent, contract term, availability of parking for the expected number of vehicles, possibility of obtaining a license, possibility of installing necessary equipment, security conditions, etc.), and we will decide whether to accept or reject the property based on whether it fits the concept and budget. However, it is quite difficult to find a property that meets 100% of the requirements, so how much you can compromise and how quickly you can make a decision are the key factors in seizing the right moment to create a thriving restaurant.

Negotiations and Contracts

Once a property has been selected, detailed terms and conditions are negotiated in order to conclude a contract. The agent will handle these negotiations, but it is best to decide in advance to a certain extent where the rent, length of the lease contract, cost sharing, and other conditions should be settled (how much can be conceded or not conceded) before entering into negotiations. This is an important step because once a contract is signed, the contract must basically be fulfilled until the end of the contract period

Obtaining Licenses and Permits

The CUP (Conditional Use Permit) and ABC License (Alcoholic Beverage Control License) are the main types of licenses and permits that are required to open a restaurant. The CUP (Conditional Use Permit) and ABC License (Alcoholic Beverage Control License) are the main permits required to open a restaurant, but they take time to obtain and can significantly affect the schedule for opening. Another drawback is the potentially lengthy period between application and acquisition. To shorten this period, one method is to purchase an existing store without moving in and take over the rights, permits, and licenses associated with it. Hiring a professional to obtain permits and licenses, if necessary, would also result in cost and time savings.

ABC license stands for Alcoholic Beverage Control License, which is a license to sell alcoholic beverages. In California, you cannot sell alcohol without this license. For restaurants, there are two types of licenses:

(1) Beer & Wine license (license to handle beer, wine, sake, and shochu) and (2) Hard Liquor license (license to handle whiskey, vodka, and other alcoholic beverages with high alcohol content in addition to (1) above). When buying or selling a restaurant, the above licenses may be transferred from the former owner or a new application may be made. In the U.S., however, licenses have become increasingly difficult to obtain in recent years because of the close relationship between alcohol sales and crime rates.

Securing Human Resources

You will need to secure the human resources necessary to run your business. Basically, it may be more efficient in terms of both time and cost to find managers and employees locally, but it may also be effective to dispatch them from Japan if necessary. In such cases, however, visa issues cannot be avoided. There are several types of visas, including work visas, investment visas, and expatriate visas, and immigration laws change frequently, so be sure to consult with an immigration attorney or other specialist.

If you ignore racial discrimination laws and regulations when hiring an American, you may incur enormous losses. Working hours, salary, and other working conditions should also be carefully considered when signing an employment contract. In addition, employees need to be trained before the store opens, so the training period should also be taken into account when scheduling the opening of the store.

In terms of human resources, you should secure not only managers and employees, but also professionals who can support your business. In addition to immigration attorneys, it is advisable to hire business attorneys, accountants, business consultants, real estate agents, general contractors, and other professionals who can provide the expertise you need not only to open the store, but also to keep it open. The more trusted experts will demand higher fees, but will end up being cheaper. It is too late to avoid having to deal with serious problems later on, which could end up costing you a great deal of money.

Interior Work

Construction is required to build or renovate a new storefront. To minimize time loss, it is a good idea to discuss some plans with the contractor before signing the lease. In addition, since there are many regulations for restaurants, it is difficult to make general statements about construction costs and timeframes. The amount of money will vary greatly depending on equipment regulations, number of restrooms, design standards for accessibility, securing exhaust duct space, installation of grease traps, etc., and the time it takes to obtain the necessary construction permits and approvals.

Public Relations

First and foremost, people need to know that your store exists or they will not come to your store. To do this, you need to advertise. There are many ways to do this, including advertising in newspapers, magazines, direct mail, and flyer distribution, but you should advertise in media that match your target customer base. Another way is to hold an event such as a pre-opening party.