Tuesday, May 18, 2004

CPAs, Attorneys, and Location 

Manager hired the CPA for Cracked Cauldron yesterday to help with taxes and to oversee the books so we don't mess up the bookkeeping. He doesn't do payroll, but he recommended a firm that does, and Manager will call them today. He also recommended an attorney to help with the subchapter S papers and such. And, he knew to whom she needed to speak about grants for being female, female in a male-dominated field, and Native American starting a business. Sometimes, it really helps to be a minority. We knew where we could get loans at lower rates for those conditions, but grants are nice.

Manager checked out the attorney and wasn't impressed, mainly because the attorney was condescending towards her. She's not sure if it was because she's female or because she's young, but does it really matter? If he takes her money, he owes her respect. If he can't at least pretend to repsect her, then she doesn't need him as an attorney. It's not like attorneys are scarce in this city - they outnumber auto mechanics.

On the real estate end, we've narrowed the search down to 11 properties, almost half are in Empowerment Zones. The ones that aren't in Empowerment Zones have other attributes that are attractive to us, like parking, large windows, and minimal remodeling needs. Four of them are in or very near to the Paseo Arts District. All are close to downtown, the state capitol, two major hospitals, 3 major call centers, and in reasonable distance of 5 colleges and universities. Most of them have small (OK, let's be realistic here - miniscule parking - say 8 spaces on average) parking lots. Only three have parking areas that exceed 10 spaces. With Oklahoma being a "no walk" zone, parking is an essential.

The things we are looking for in a location: 1) Location, of course. That's why we drove through the area we are targeting as our prime spot, and looked at each place. 2) Size. We need a certain minimum size to make this work. Ovens, storage, counter space, cleaning up space - it all takes room. We could squeeze the equipment and customers into 3,000 sqf, but 4,000 is ideal for a starter. That eliminated many places right off the bat. 3) Condition. How is the wiring, the plumbing? What's the roof like, the walls? Cracked windows? How sturdy are the doors? Holes in the floor? Don't laugh - in the Empowerment Zone, some of these places were decidedly dilapidated. What would it cost to make it "habitable"? 4) Parking. We want at least 12 parking spaces, and more would be nice. Most places have half that. The old Spaghetti Factory in the Paseo has no parking spaces, but shares all the spaces up and down the street. We'd be competing with Galileo's, The Bargoo, Craig's Emporium, The Isis Cafe, Kathryn's Place, and several art galleries. 5) Cost. How much is the rent, what kind of contract can we negotiate? Can we rent, or should we buy? What do the utilities run - and much as we love gas, is it affordable? In the winter, the gas company traditionally spikes the cost of gas tremendously, can we afford that spike? Last winter, the gas prices increased fivefold for the months of December, January, February, and March. Can we afford to pay 5 times the normal price of gas for 1/3 of the year? 6) Other stuff, like shape, and appearance, and interior condition (the Old Spaghetti Warehouse, for example, is filled with debris, but all the other places we've targeted look merely dusty and dirty), and smell (one place smells like rancid bananas - sweet and rotten with a sharp stabbing after-effects - and if we can't locate and dispose of that smell, that will eliminate the place right there).

Manager is making appointments with the realtors today, and will check out a couple of other attorneys.

Insurance looks as if it will be a dicier thing than we expected, Manager's aunt isn't licensed for Oklahoma.

Things are moving quickly forward now.

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