Last Updated on December 13, 2023 by Morgan Beard
Life Before Occupier:
- They lacked visibility into rent escalations.
- Dug through PDF leases to find key dates.
- Lack of centralized view of portfolio metrics.
Life After Occupier:
- All lease data visible in one dashboard.
- Time savings from faster lease data access.
- Proactive notifications on renewals, expansions, term dates.
- Confidently benchmark SQ footage rates for expansion locations.
- Proactively negotiate upcoming renewals with full context.
- Enhanced collaboration between real estate and finance.
INDUSTRY: Restaurant | LEASES: 10 + | OCCUPIER USERS: 2+
Souvla is a fast-fine Greek restaurant group known for its spit-roasted meats, Greek wines, and lively dining atmosphere. Founded in 2014 in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley by Charles Bililies, Souvla has thoughtfully expanded to 6 locations in San Francisco and recently opened its first location outside the city in Marin County.
As a homegrown brand, Souvla is deliberate in choosing new locations to maintain its local neighborhood-focused identity. Bililies refers to this as “thoughtful growth” — not rushing expansion simply to have more units, but carefully selecting spaces that align with Souvla’s brand ethos and business model.
This strategy has sewn Souvla Restaurants into the culture fabric of San Francisco. As Charles Bililies looks to expand across the greater Bay Area, Occupier is his lease management data center guiding real estate decision-making.
Sustainable Real Estate Expansion
Unlike many trendy fast-casual concepts, Souvla self-funded its growth rather than taking on venture capital or private equity money. This means each new location must have strong fundamentals to be profitable on its own, since there is less room to prop up poor performing locations.
Bililies estimates Souvla can realistically open 1-2 new locations per year in the San Francisco Bay Area over the next five years. The priority is finding the right second generation real estate sites rather than arbitrarily opening locations based on real estate availability. For example, it took 8 years from initial conversations to open Souvla’s Larkspur, North Bay Area location – holding out for 5 years for a specific space in the shopping center to become available.
This patience allows Souvla to be highly selective, opening restaurants poised for success and ROI right out the gate. Bililies believes the brand affinity Souvla built with its guest base stems in large part from choosing great locations paired with delicious, wholesome food.
Lease Centralization for Negotiation
To inform expansion decisions and prepare for upcoming lease renewals, Souvla began using Occupier’s centralized lease management software. With 10 year leases, many of Souvla’s initial sites are soon to be renegotiated.
Occupier compiles all of Souvla’s leases into a consolidated dashboard, allowing Bililies to easily analyze metrics like rent per square foot at each existing restaurant. He leverages this portfolio-level data to benchmark acceptable rates and competitively negotiate for new locations — “Occupier is a valuable tool for us as we expand. It enables us to be proactive about renewals and negotiations on new spaces,” says Bililies.
Centralizing lease data also helps Bililies strategize for renewals, providing transparency into where current rates fall relative to market. With most landlords being “mom and pop” owners rather than big REITs in San Francisco, these insights facilitate finding win-win solutions.
What Makes Occupier Stand Out
Key benefits that Charles Bililies highlighted from using Occupier’s platform:
- Time saving via lease data centralization
- Portfolio-leveling benchmarking to inform growth
- Proactive notifications on key dates
- Monthly reports to prioritize tasks
- Enables real estate and accounting collaboration
Real Estate and Accounting Harmony
In addition to informing growth, Occupier fosters collaboration between real estate and accounting teams. It provides alerts on key dates like rent increases, so accounting can proactively update bill payment systems. Eliminating missed notices helps Souvla avoid lease defaults.
Occupier also automatically generates monthly updates on the full restaurant portfolio. These serve as helpful reminders for Bililies on approaching deadlines to exercise expansion options, supporting more proactive lease management.
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