I just attended the BDO Restaurant CFO Roundtable where I presented the Top 10 Most Important Legal Provisions of a Restaurant Lease. Arranged by Dustin Minton and Floyd Roades of BDO, the Roundtable brings together restaurant industry executives to learn about industry trends. BDO is the industry leader when it comes to accounting services for restaurants. I was very impressed with every BDO person I met and I loved their new office. Wide open spaces designed to encourage collaboration. The best space was the employee dining room which had a ping pong table in it and an attached balcony overlooking Great American Ballpark.

I won’t recreate the whole presentation here, but I will say that the top most important lease provision (according to me) is the construction exhibit/clause. Between chargebacks, bonding requirements, security deposits, impact fees, requirements to work before permits are received, equipment requirements and design requirements, a tenant’s construction budget and opening schedule could be significantly affected. And these things are never covered in the LOI and typically are not even presented until the end of the lease process.

Moffat Machingura said that “Life is like a restaurant; you can have anything you want as long as you are willing to pay the price.” This applies to the build out of a restaurant. But a tenant needs to focus on the construction exhibit/clause to ensure the true price is known up-front.

After the Roundtable, we were treated to dinner at Sotto. (I’d like to think my presentation was why everyone attended, but let’s be real.) If you haven’t been to Sotto – you need to. Try the Goat Cheese and Hazelnut Honey Bruschetta and the Short Rib Cappellacci, and save room for dessert. They have homemade donuts served warm with three different sauces. Not even kidding!