4 Essentials of Buying a Sushi Restaurant

Posted On: / By: Brian Knoderer
Buying A Business

The sushi bar industry has increased an average of 4.8% each year since 2014, due to an increased interest in more health-conscious foods and rise in disposable income. Sushi is in high-demand across the entire country – not just trendy cities, like New York and Los Angeles. If you’ve considered buying a sushi restaurant, now could be the time to tap into this fast-growing market. But, as with purchasing any business, you have to be strategic in your preparations, especially since high-end restaurants are facing a lot of competition. Consider these four elements before beginning your business search for a Japanese restaurant.

4 Considerations for Buying a Sushi Restaurant

It’s easy to separate the best sushi restaurants from the bad ones. You have to invest in the right processes and materials to keep your business in good standing. Here are four considerations to make before buying a sushi restaurant.

1. Serving Sushi Safely

Like any restaurant, buying a Japanese sushi restaurant can be hectic. But, this industry also comes with a unique set of challenges since its cuisine is centered around raw ingredients. Because of this, buyers have to take extra precautions to protect their customers from foodborne illnesses. Unfortunately, there aren’t cut-and-dry regulations for food distributors to maintain their supply. So, your best bet is to follow the FDA’s guidance for handling uncooked fish. One of the biggest takeaways is proper storage. Many are surprised to find that it’s safer to consume raw fish after being frozen. The FDA recommends storing raw fish at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of seven days, or 15 hours at -31 degrees Fahrenheit to eliminate the risk of parasites.

2. Finding the Right Chef chef preparing sashimi

All business buyers should figure out if any key personnel plan to stay after the sale. This is especially true when buying into a sushi restaurant, as finding the right sushi chef is much harder than filling the same role in other restaurants. Learning how to prepare raw fish and create high-quality sushi rolls takes years of experience. So, when looking for sushi restaurants for sale, it’s helpful if you already have a chef in mind. An eligible candidate will have the expertise to prepare a diverse menu for your guests, from different types of sushi (sashimi, nigiri, etc.) to other traditional Japanese food items, such as hibachi and teriyaki. Plus, different sushi roll options are abundant. It’s a bonus if your chef has mastered the more Westernized choices, (e.g., California rolls), as well as more authentic Japanese cuisine.

3. Conducting a Competitor Analysis

Location is everything for restaurants. You’ll want to take note of nearby restaurant businesses, even if they don’t serve Asian cuisine. Since dining out has become an everyday experience in the average American household, new restaurants are popping up each day. Each year, the United States sees a 3.7% increase in single location, full-service restaurants, and a 3.9% increase in franchisee-owned restaurants. That said, you’ll want to consider your nearby competition to see how saturated the market is. On the other hand, you also don’t want to buy somewhere that isn’t dense enough. You could miss out on patrons that find your place by merely passing by.

4. Setting Arrangements with the Previous Owner

There are many details you’ll need to iron out with the restaurant’s seller. From setting a transition plan to discussing non-compete clauses, negotiation is a significant step in the transaction process. A successful negotiation requires give and take from both parties, so you’ll want to decide what details you can and can’t be flexible with. Refer to our guide on how to navigate through the negotiation process before meeting with a seller.

Buying a sushi restaurant can be a profitable investment with proper planning. Other factors you’ll want to consider are the sushi bar’s reputation, existing liabilities, and all past and present financial information. There are a lot of elements that go into a successful business transaction, which can feel overwhelming. With Sunbelt Business Brokers, you don’t have to go into the buying process alone. Our international network of business brokers is proud to represent more businesses than anyone else in the world. Find your local Sunbelt office to begin your journey in buying a sushi restaurant!

Brian Knoderer is the President of Sunbelt Business Brokers. He has over 20 years of experience as a business owner and managing business transactions. As a seasoned intermediary, Brian has successfully represented companies in a broad range of industries helping business owners achieve their desired exit strategy or growth initiative.

Brian is also co-owner of Sunbelt Indiana and Managing Director of MMI Capital Partners, a franchisor focused investment banking firm.

Previously Brian was involved in several entrepreneurial ventures as well as having held corporate roles in Franchise Development for Prime Hospitality and Choice Hotels.

Brian is a graduate of Ball State University with a degree in Management Information Systems and earned his MBA from Butler University. He has received the Certified Merger & Acquisition Advisor (CM&AA) designation, holds both the Series 7 – General Security License and the Series 63 – Uniform Securities Licenses, and is a licensed Real Estate Broker. He has been affiliated with several organizations including the Entrepreneur Organization, a Member of the International Business Brokers Association, Venture Club, and a Board Member of The Entrepreneur Institute.

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