As someone that lives in Florida (Orlando) and someone that has beening tracking and looking at spaces for about 5 years, I'd like to add my 2 cents.
The Commercial market is now approching the type of bottom the housing market hit a few years ago.
There are tons of restaurants sitting empty. The cost of high lease terms when the economy was good killed some, others built big menus that required lots of labor, and thats what helped their fall. This was on top of shifts in population, poor managment,people just retiring etc...
I tracked a restaurant in Clermont Fl for 13 months. It started (for sale) at 279K, when it reached 229K I went and looked at it. I didnt bite due to it needing a grease trap and I also got a bad vibe from the City. The agent called me a month later and said the guy justs wants something close to 180K.
The space I'm looking at now in metro Orlando is in a strip mall. When the guy saw I had lots of experience and a fresh concept idea, he started throwing money AT ME!!? Saying he would go as far as offering us an interest free loan if the bank wouldnt give us all the $$.
5 years ago I was at the owners mercy, now the shoes on the other foot. I'm giving them the same mercy they offered me.
This is a GREAT time to open a restaurant.
2 more things:
1) Malls??!! Malls are dying at an alarming rate..when you start seeing tatoo parlors in malls, you know its in trouble. Stay away!
2) I disagree with "location, location, location"/// prepare good food, provide good service with a great value and they'll drive to the hood, or down dirt roads to see you...I think agents are the ones that came up with that slogan.