Father and son team up for restaurant brokerage in a booming market

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 1/5/22

CLAY COUNTY – A local father and son duo is hoping for success in the restaurant brokerage business in the county and Jacksonville.

Austin Luke was in the landscaping business and felt a switch …

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Father and son team up for restaurant brokerage in a booming market

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – A local father and son duo is hoping for success in the restaurant brokerage business in the county and Jacksonville.

Austin Luke was in the landscaping business and felt a switch was necessary. Austin Luke and his father Gary Luke later joined with brokerage business We Sell Restaurants with the goal to begin early in the new year.

As far as the Northeast Florida market is concerned, Austin Luke said it’s investor-heavy. He said the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t deter an investor with an interesting concept.

“I think overall, we’re not going to see a downturn,” Austin Luke said. “People want to have fellowship and face-to-face interactions with people.”

Brokers don’t have to deal with foot traffic, labor and marketing, but they have to prepare a space for a restaurateur, usually on a quick turnaround. He said the county has experienced numerous new subdivisions, improved roads and a thriving school district.

A broker needs to find the right fit for each area, he said. An example of a good fit is Spring Park Coffee, which was the site of a former Starbucks in 2011. One or two eye-catching, dependable restaurants can set the mood of an area, he added.

“I’m definitely excited about Clay County and what it’s done for me already,” Austin Luke said. “Established and not-so-established businesses are going to have to change. There’s going to be innovations and that changes the culture.”

Gary Luke has run a law office in Orange Park since 2007. He’s noticed restaurants actually haven’t done terrible looking at year-to-date figures from 2019.

Mom-and-pop restaurants have had to fight to remain open and accommodate customers while larger chains have options. However, both are seriously impacted by labor shortages.

“Here in Florida, our leadership has done the best they can do so businesses can stay open,” Gary Luke said. “Larger chains can close in-store service and still deliver curbside or with a drive-thru, but privately-owned restaurants have to stay open to keep food on the table. It’s hard to find labor.”

He said with Clay County’s explosive growth, the goal is to give owner-operators the space to have success and be in the position to retire. Most developers are leaving spaces for restaurants in their properties.

“I think Clay County is experiencing tremendous growth,” Gary Luke said. “I think you’re going to see more and more restaurants open.”

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