Should Restauranteurs Build Real Estate Businesses?

Should Restauranteurs Build Real Estate Businesses?

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on many industries, namely the restaurant and hospitality sector. This article was written to provide insight to former restaurant owners that might be in the process of determining what professions would allow them to monetize their skillset in the current economy that is the hardest on restaurants. 

In 2019, I started evaluating ways to expand the services we offer to our restaurant and hospitality clients at Northwest Advisory Group and it led to me getting a real estate license. This allowed us to collaborate with commercial brokerages in the mergers and acquisitions space, while also partnering with residential realtors to help our entrepreneur clients with their real estate needs.

As I’ve invested time with extremely successful real estate agents on the residential and commercial side, I’ve learned about opportunities in real estate, that I believe, would suit restauranteurs well.

In 2020, thousands of restaurant owners were forced to close their business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in over 110,000 permanent closures across the United States. Many of these restaurants were full-service style restaurants with menu items that don’t thrive in a take-out & delivery economy. Not only did many of these restaurant owners lose their business, but the very asset they were counting on to support their family, community, and fund their retirement.

In working with restaurant owners for more than a decade, I believe current or former restaurant owners are well positioned to consider building real estate or financial services businesses because of their unique skillset, business experience, and passion.


  1. Strong Work Ethic

Running a successful restaurant is TWO full-time jobs. It is hard work and if you know a restaurant owner, you know they are busy! From managing vendors, employees, menu changes, reservations, landlord challenges, and unethical point-of-sale providers, restaurant owners invest their day fighting to ensure clients have a great experience so they can win loyal customers. This quality translates well to the real estate sector because buyers and sellers value working with professionals that are willing to work hard to get deals done under pressure and time constraints. For a restauranteur, this just another day in the life of running a successful business.

The bottom line: A restauranteurs work-ethic would translate well to the real estate sector.


  1. Resilient

Being a successful residential or commercial realtor takes resilience. The same goes for restaurant owners that have weathered the changes in the economy over the past decade. It’s not good enough to work hard for a restaurant owner, they must continue to work hard in the face of insurmountable odds, while also doing their best to keep a positive attitude. The best restaurant owners are resilient in the face of adversity and coincidentally, so are the best real estate professionals. The restaurant and real estate professionals that build great companies, are those that fall 10 times, and get up 11. Restauranteurs do that every day.

The bottom line: Restauranteurs eat adversity for breakfast, brunch, and lunch.

  1. Business Acumen

Many real estate professionals enter the real estate profession without any sales or business experience, which likely contributes to only 13% of agents succeeding in real estate after 5 years. When it comes to acumen, it’s about more than passing the real estate exam. The high performing realtors I partner with are constantly working at understanding their local market, advancing their professional capabilities to serve clients, and focusing on lead generation, even when they don’t feel like it.

Restaurant owners, during their workday, are constantly following what’s happening in the local food market, improving their food and service, and making sure their staff are serving clients well so they get more repeat business. A restauranteurs business acumen will also allow them to craft unique experiences for their clients by bringing fresh ideas, partnerships, and opportunities, which will lead to more referrals.

The bottom line: Restauranteurs have strong business acumen that, along with their creativity, would serve them well in the real estate sector.


  1. People Skills

Successful realtors are masters at building a large network of people that know, like, and trust them. This is not a skill that you can attend a weekend seminar to develop mastery at, it takes time, time that restaurant owners have often invested decades developing in a high paced, stressful environment. How easy are you to get along with on a Friday night when you’re hangry? Imagine managing a staff of people that are all serving hangry folks on a Friday night. Most restaurant owners I know have superior people skills and an existing business network that would help them build a great career in real estate.

The bottom line: Most restaurant owners are superior to most professionals when it comes to working with individuals and families in stressful environments. This would give them an advantage in real estate.


  1. Storytelling Skills

I recently watched an interview that Tom Ferry did with storytelling expert Laura Morton, and in this interview, they talked about how important storytelling is for real estate agents. Storytelling not only helps realtors stand out from the competition, but when done properly, helps buyers and sellers make quality decisions about their real estate decisions, especially which realtor to work with. 

The concept of storytelling for restauranteurs is not foreign. Running a restaurant, especially in the fine dining category, involves having a compelling story to tell patrons. This includes a story about how the restaurant got started generations ago, where the ingredients are being sourced, and sometimes, the deeper mission and values of the restauranteur. Restaurant owners, after years of telling impactful stories about themselves and their restaurant, could find it easy to engage with buyers and sellers in the client attraction process.

The bottom line: Successful restauranteurs are already storytellers, making them excellent candidates for the real estate industry.


  1. Opportunity

Real estate in 2018, according to federal statistics, contributed over 2.7 trillion dollars to the United States economy, employed more than 2 million people, and generated more than 10 billion dollars in profits. The opportunity in the real estate sector is immense, beyond only being a real estate agent. There are many examples of successful companies positioned within the real estate sector that offer ancillary services to the industry that make the lives of realtors easier and more efficient. You might be asking, “What about the pandemic?”. Well, real estate agents, along with other financial services professionals were considered an essential business during the pandemic, allowing many of these entrepreneurs to continue running their business. Imagine being in a business that is not only essential but lucrative.

According to Stefan Swanepoel, the leading authority and visionary on trends in the real estate brokerage industry, stated in a recent conference that real estate is one of few professions where, within a matter of years, a person could earn well into the 6 and 7 figures on personal production. This does not include the opportunity to engage in ancillary services tied to real estate that allow real estate agents to earn ongoing income outside of their personal sales.

Restauranteurs should consider the opportunity of real estate because it would allow them an opportunity to do what few other industries allow; the opportunity to, when done right, earn a significant amount of money in a short period of time. Financial rewards aren’t a guarantee, but it is available to real estate agents with the proper work ethic, talent, and business model.

The bottom line: The real estate industry offers a great opportunity for restauranteurs looking for lucrative opportunities outside of the hospitality sector to build wealth.



Real estate can be a rewarding career, and could be ideal for a current or former restaurant owner wanting to rebuild their financial wealth for the future. This could allow them to reenter the real estate sector once social distancing and lockdowns have ended so they can rebuild their restaurant portfolio if they choose.

If you are a current or former restauranteur considering what to do professionally outside of the hospitality sector to rebuild your wealth, I’d love to talk with you about ways to leverage your professional skills and talents.

If that’s you, let’s talk!




No Athlete, You Don’t Need A Plan B

No Athlete, You Don’t Need A Plan B

If you’re an athlete, you’ve had your friends, parents, and relatives tell you that you need to go to class so you have something to fall back on.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at the options available to most undergraduate students, I don’t necessarily see those options as worthy of distracting you by taking the focus away from athletics.

I was a D1 athlete, and I followed the rules by going to class and doing my homework.

During my sophomore year, I selected Sociology as my major, because at the time, I was genuinely interested in pursuing a career in social work.

The reality is, most colleges are failing their students by not providing the cutting-edge education needed to be successful in the current economy or prepared for the future of work.

This was the problem I faced 14 years ago, and millions of graduates across the United States have experienced the same.

In fact, it was a problem when your parents graduated from college too.

If you follow Ray Dalio, Robert Kiyosaki, or any other financial expert, they will tell you that if you rely solely on what is being taught in our traditional education system every year, you have no chance of achieving financal success, and you will not live life on your terms.

As a former athlete, struggling financially feels like losing in the first round of the playoffs when you were projected to win the championship. It’s flat out embarrasing.

I’m here to tell you one thing:


You will not achieve long-term success and fulfillment in athletics if you’re committed to making sure you have something to fall back on.

However, athletics alone shouldn’t exclusively be your Plan A.

How do you address that?

You need to design a Plan A that includes your athletic career and professional ambitions.

These ambitions should be integrated, not treated as two separate tracks.

You should be building a life strategy that includes all of your goals and then build relationships, opportunities, and economic models that will support your personal ambitions, interests, and values.

The reason most athletes fail after sports is because they didn’t plan beyond sports and therefore they missed their greatest opportunity to open doors that extend beyond sports.

You don’t want to wait until your sports career is over.

Define the opportunities you’re attracted to, and start building out your life strategy, NOW.

Think about how you might use your current athletic career to develop relationships in the industries you want to work or own businesses within. Consider where you might volunteer in the offseason so you can add value, while also positioning yourself to establish your professional image and brand.

Take the time to write down the values of the people you want to surround yourself with. Reach out to former athletes that are living the life you want to live after sports and interview them.

Ask yourself, what are your values? Who do you want to serve with your talent? What industries fit your interests, passions, and capabilities?

If you don’t take the time to define who you are, what you want, what values you want to live by, and what industries you want to participate in, your sports career will end and you will find yourself scrambling.

I played by the traditional rules and had my Plan B and it took me a decade to figure out how to build a career that fit my passions. The reality is my Plan B didn’t inspire me, and if I would’ve pursued it, I would have spend decades thinking about a few highlights of my sports career instead of being excited about the personal championships on the horizon.

It’s 2020.

You shouldn’t invest 10-20 years of your life into athletics only to end your career with a framed senior night picture and your practice jerseys. If you were a professional, your livelihood shouldn’t be hanging in the balance as you wait to “get the call” from your agent trying to get you an opportunity overseas.

That’s the old way of transitioning for athletes. One that has people shaming athletes for not finding something positive to do with their life.

You’re worth more than that, and it’s sad that people keep telling you to be happy and satisfied you got a 4-year Sociology degree. As a person that has fought for your team to win championships, you know that isn’t good enough for you, and it isn’t in the least bit exciting.

Athlete, you need to treat your education seriously, but you don’t need a Plan B.

You need a strategy for life that will allow you to build a life brighter and brighter, year after year, long after your athletic career is over. The only way to effectively do that is to first design the life you want to have and then leverage athletics, scholarships, partnerships, and relationships to achieve the results you want.

Don’t look for a Plan B.