Restaurants, cafés, bars in Santiago de Chile: where to open one?

Do you want to share your culinary skills with the Chileans? But you do not know where to establish your restaurant in Santiago? In this article, we give you some keys to find the best area to set up your restaurant or café.

To choose, it is preferable to focus on criteria such as: location, required size and rental cost, according to the customers you want to target. You always can change the layout, the design, the furniture but not a bad location. In this article, we give you an overview of each neighborhood so that you can judge and preselect neighborhoods for your future location.

We have selected, first and foremost, the middle to upper class areas. Of course, depending on your target market, others areas could be to consider. At the end of this article, we also indicate some emerging neighborhoods, which could be interesting given the fact that they have an imbalance between supply and demand: few restaurants and cafés, and high demand, especially at lunch time during the week.

For more information on a specific street or area, do not hesitate to contact us.

Note: the article mentions several times the term « derecho de llaves ». This is a concept close to “key money”, a kind of premium that you pay when you buy an already functioning shop. We detail it at the end of the article, with price ranges per area.

 

Restaurants and cafés in Las Condes

Located on the north-east of Santiago, Las Condes is the largest municipality of the metropolitan region. It is the economic center of Santiago. Highly frequented, Las Condes is a good place for a restaurant, especially at lunch time. Three neighborhoods are to consider in Las Condes:

El Golf

El Golf is the area located between the Tobalaba and Alcántara metro stations, south of the Los Leones golf club. Historically, this neighborhood was residential and intended for the upper class. Since the 90s, it has become the new business district of Santiago, sometimes even called Sanhattan (acronym of Santiago and Manhattan). The area, formerly composed of large residences with big garden, is now full of office and residential buildings. Active during weekdays, the sector is not very lively after 8pm and during the week-end.

If you want to offer a European cuisine and target affluent customers, this is a good place to open a restaurant. All the streets near El Golf metro station might be interesting to open a restaurant or a café.  However, Isadora Goyenechea street is the iconic street for restaurants in the area and is one of the only streets where restaurants are open at night. Rental prices are high as well as “derechos de llaves”.

Escuela Militar

The Escuela Militar district is also located on Apoquindo avenue, just east of El Golf district. Real estate prices are more affordable because the area is more residential than El Golf. Establishing your restaurant in Escuela Militar could be financially interesting. Be careful however regarding the concept you want to develop. It is a busy place during the day because it is an important point of connection between bus and metro networks. This means it is a great area for fast food or take-away restaurants, as well as food trucks. However, it might be more difficult to run a traditional restaurant open at night because there is little parking space available in the area.

Nueva Las Condes

The Nueva Las Condes area is also located along Apoquindo avenue, on the east of El Golf, near the Manquehue metro station. This area also has an interesting potential for a restaurant. Given the quantity of offices around the metro, it is better to focus on lunch and take-away rather than dinner. In terms of real estate, the available commercial properties on the market are relatively more affordable than in others areas of Las Condes.

 

Restaurants and cafés in Providencia

The municipality of Providencia is located between Santiago Centro and Las Condes. Prices for sale and rent are affordable.

There are many shops and restaurants along Providencia avenue, but also in others areas like Barrio Italia for example. Providencia is easy accessible by public transportation (metro and bus), which makes it an interesting area for a restaurant.

In order to help you in your search, we have detailed several interesting neighborhoods below:

Manuel Montt / Los Leones

During the day, the area between Manuel Montt and Los Leones metro stations is a business district. At night, it becomes a place to go out for dinner or to have a drink. This is a dynamic and young area of the Chilean capital, located along metro line 1. There are many good places for a quick dinner, or to taste traditional Chilean meals with friends or family.

Although this area is attractive, it can be complicated to find a parking spot nearby. Therefore, the neighborhood mainly attracts residents or employees who work in the area. The inhabitants of others municipalities (Vitacura, Las Condes, Lo Barnechea…) are unlikely to drive to Providencia for dinner.

If your focus is on employees of the companies established in the area, we recommend you to find a place on Providencia avenue or nearby. More than one block away might be too far, especially during winter.

Tobalaba avenue

Tobalaba avenue can also be a good option to open a bar or a restaurant. Between Tobalaba and Cristobal Colon metro stations, many residential houses have been transformed in bars, restaurants or shops. Near the Tobalaba metro station, the proximity to the office buildings of El Golf allows to benefit from a clientele of employees at lunch time.

Further south, the bars and restaurants work essentially in the evening. As the area is less accessible and attractive compared to Manuel Montt / Los Leones area, you will need to do a lot of marketing at the beginning to attract and retain customers.

Bellavista

Located between Providencia and Recoleta, it is a district of Santiago where the ambiance is rather young and relaxed. This is also where the night owls meet up to party.

The area is popular for its bars and nightclubs, and the cost of real estate is therefore quite expensive. Available commercial properties for rent are scarce, especially in the busiest streets. The “derechos de llaves” are costly, because of high margins generated by bars and nightclubs. Rather than buying an existing business, a better option could be to convert a residential house into a commercial space. This is more work at the beginning. Yet, it is often cheaper as you do not have to pay a “derecho de llave” to the previous owner.

Barrio Italia

Between Providencia and Nuñoa, the Barrio Italia is an area of Santiago, where you can find many restaurants, offering a cuisine from all over the world. It is a very busy neighborhood during weekends with many people coming to buy antique furniture or decoration. These people generally have lunch or coffee before going back home.

In Italia street, which gives its name to the district, owners have transformed old houses in small commercial galleries with 4 to 5 shops and a café/restaurant in the back garden.

However, the neighborhood is not close to a business district. Therefore, it is not really busy at lunch time during the week, and not that much during the evening either. Rental prices appear overpriced to us, especially for commercial premises located inside these galleries. They do not benefit from the same amount of traffic as the shops located in the street and have reduced opening hours. As a matter of fact, we note a high turnover of shops in these galleries, and do not recommend them, unless you get an affordable rent.

 

Santiago Centro

Lastarria area / Jose Victorino Lastarria street

Jose Victorino Lastarria street offers a huge choice of bars and restaurants. The Lastarria neighborhood has developed strongly since 2010 when Plaza Lastarria Boulevard (a real estate development comprising of 1 to 2-bedroom units designed for young couples) was completed. The rest of the street has gradually been transformed into a zone to go out and many other bars and restaurants have opened.

There are few opportunities to open a new business / restaurant / café on the street, as most of the facilities are already rented and generate an interesting return for owners. However, in the perpendicular streets, small galleries open and could permit to find a first place to develop your business.

Negative point: The number of street vendors who disrupt the passage by installing their stalls on the ground has strongly increased for the last 2 to 3 years. It could penalize the district in the coming years, if the municipality does regulate them.

Bellas Artes

Arty district of Santiago Centro, Bellas Artes features a large selection of restaurants, cafés and take-away food stands. The area attracts tourists, nearby office workers and locals. This area is very lively, even on weekends, due to its central location between Cerro Santa Lucia, the Parque Forestal and the Plaza de Armas. We recommend it for an entrepreneur willing to start a small restaurant or café, especially if you want to be open all week long.

Plaza de Armas and nearby

The type of restaurants available near the Plaza de Armas is mainly designed for the local employees at lunch time, as well as for the tourists seeking to eat on the go. Clients are mostly looking for places to eat quickly or buy a take-away meal. As it is the historic center of Santiago, you will find lots of “picadas” and others typical Chilean restaurants where you can eat a cheap meal.

 

Open a restaurant in Recoleta

The municipality of Recoleta is located north of Santiago Centro and Providencia. Two main areas are in development and could be of interest to open a restaurant or  bar.

Bellavista

The west part of the Bellavista district is located in Recoleta. This area offers a higher number of bars and nightclubs than in Providencia, because it is easier to get a license in Recoleta than in Providencia. Rents are cheaper because the area is less developed.

There is a limited flow of clients in comparison to the busy streets of Pio Nono, Dardignac or Antonia Lopez de Bello. Therefore, this area is perfect for restaurateurs willing to offer an affordable and/or very specific cuisine, so that customers agree to walk a few hundred extra meters.

Patronato

Neighborhood dedicated to the retail sale of cheap, new products made in Asia, or of second-hand clothes, Patronato also concentrates a lot of Asian grocery stores. New restaurants are opening regularly, offering a variety of cuisine.

The area benefits from a strong affluence all week, during the day until 7pm, of a middle-class clientele seeking affordable prices.

 

Nuñoa: where to set up a café/restaurant

Nuñoa is a very residential area, which is at the beginning of a transformation. Many cafés and restaurants will probably open in the coming years. Indeed, due to the recent opening of two metro lines, real estate developers have bought lots of houses to replace them with residential buildings, focused on young couples with/without children. This is going to increase the density of population and demand for restaurant.

Within the area, it is more and more common to find small neighbourhood cafés. It is often an old house which turns into a commercial property and is shared by several shops: a café, a grocery store or a bakery, and sometimes a local service such as laundry, computer center, travel or real estate agency…

However, apart from the Plaza Nuñoa described below, the municipality does not feature consolidated sectors of bars and restaurants.

Plaza Nuñoa

At the heart of the residential area of Nuñoa, you will appreciate the conviviality of this place where is also located the townhall. It is a place where the locals meet to have a drink or eat at night. Considering that the square is small, there is a limited supply of commercial properties for rent in the area.

 

Vitacura

Below are three iconic areas of Vitacura in terms of restaurants / bars / nighlife. It should also be noted that most of the major avenues of Vitacura are classified by the municipality as commercial sectors. If you want open a restaurant or a café, we therefore also recommend to consider the following avenues: Nueva Costanera, Vitacura, Luis Pasteur, Manquehue and Geronimo de Alderete. Each of them has its specificities. Contact us for more details.

Alonso de Cordova / Nueva Costanera

In Vitacura, Alonso de Cordova avenue ends in front of the townhall and offers many parking places, which allows visitors to park their car easily while shopping. Some well-know luxury brands are established, as well as top range restaurant, in adequacy with the type of customers within the district. Real estate developers are currently

Nueva Costanera avenue, perpendicular to Alonso de Cordova, offers the same standing as Alonso de Cordova. This area is well developed since the opening of the mall Casa Costanera in 2015, which attracts many people especially on weekends.

BordeRio

The BordeRio area is located north of Vitacura, near a wealthy population who can afford to eat at the restaurant regularly. Rents are high, which forces to have a high-end offer. If you choose to open a restaurant in BordeRio, make sure that your positioning is clear. There are many restaurants in BordeRio and not all of them are successful. It will be necessary to stand out, to attract and retain clients. We do not recommend to start a restaurant in this area if you do not have a proven concept or experience in running a restaurant.

Paseo El Mañío

Located along the Vitacura avenue, opposite to the mall El Castillo and Jumbo supermarket, this patio includes many cafés and restaurants and is a well-known meeting point for locals.

 

Emerging neighborhoods

The abovementioned neighborhoods correspond to the major areas in Santiago as far as restaurants, bars and cafes are concerned. In addition to these areas, several others sectors of the city are emerging and should grow strongly in the coming years.

In these areas, the best concept would be an affordable restaurant with 50 to 100 seats where people can eat quickly. If you have the experience to optimize the service in the restaurant at lunch time to quickly attend clients, and re-use the same table 2 or 3 time during the lunch hour, there is money to be made in these areas.

Moreover, in these areas, it is easy to create a “captive” clientele by signing a “convenio” with one or more companies located in the area. You offer a reduced price or an extra benefit, and this “ensures” you a minimum number of clients per week.

Pudahuel

The municipality of Pudahuel, located on west of the city, is undergoing significant changes due to the construction of a new airport terminal and the progressive transformation of many agricultural lands into industrial and offices areas. There is a high demand for restaurants at lunch time during the week. Furthermore, the metro planned to open in a few years will help to strengthen the attractiveness of this area for businesses.

Huechuraba

Among the emerging districts, there is also the municipality of Huechuraba and in particular the area of Ciudad Empresarial. Recent but in strong development, it brings together offices of many large companies which translates into a strong demand for affordable cuisine at lunch time.

 

Others factors to consider

Derechos de llaves

The « derecho de llaves » is similar to the “key money”, a kind of premium that you pay to buy an already functioning shop. It costs varies according to several criteria. It takes into account the brand awareness, the equipment, the loyalty of the clients, or the age of the restaurant/café/bar.

Since the cost of a “derecho de llaves” is based on specific criteria, we are not able to give you a precise price range. Below, some “wide” price ranges:

  • Providencia: 12.000.000 – 160.000.000
  • Vitacura: 6.000.000 – 180.000.000
  • Nuñoa: 20.000.000 – 65.000.000
  • Santiago Centro: 5.000.000 – 60.000.000
  • Las Condes: 8.000.000 – 220.000.000

Do not hesitate to contact us, to obtain a specific price range, according to your criteria and notably for a specific area.

Licenses

In addition of the « derecho de llaves », most commercial activities require licenses (patentes). Some municipalities, to regulate the commercial activities, have restricted the number of licenses. It is therefore necessary to buy back a license to another establishment who is closing / moving, if possible. Other municipalities on the contrary issue new licenses more easily.

Moreover, it depends of the type of license. A license to sell alcohol will be more regulated than a license for a cafe. In this context, we can not give you an average price. Send us details of your project to know the prices and market trends. The cost of license must be integrated in the whole budget of the project.

Be careful: you can find licenses for sale on real estate or classified ads websites at various prices. This is due to the fact that certain municipalities auction licenses whose owner has debts or unpaid taxes. Beware of it, especially if it is a license to sell alcohol:

  • Each license has a specific use. Thus, a license to sell alcohol to take away will be useless for a restaurant that requires a license for consumption within the premises.
  • Licenses are mostly granted by a municipality. You cannot buy a license in a municipality and use it in another. In some municipalities, licenses are not transferable from one place to another, even within the municipality.
  • A license may be accompanied by debts from the municipality, which you will have to immediately pay if you want to keep the license. You have to take these debts into consideration to see if the price offered is interesting.

Negotiate

To buy a business at the right price allows you to resell it without losing in case you need to sell it quickly.

Therefore, as soon as you start searching a business, you must have in mind the possible evolution of its price. Nothing is more difficult than having to resell at a value lower than what you pay when buying it.

The location is an important factor in the value of a property, the next buyer will also pay attention to the quality of the building, the general cleanliness of the premises, the common charges, derecho de llaves…

If you plan to buy or sell a restaurant or a café, contact us for more info, and help to estimate it.