Why put a cafe in your commercial development?

Coffee shops are “hot property” for commercial developers, according to Stuff.co.nz. Having a roastery or coffee brand lease the ground floor/foyer space is often desired by anybody building a new office block or other commercial space. It creates buzz about your building. It can lead to good brand recognition (e.g. people will often organise to meet “at the cafe in the Westpac building” rather than the cafe's actual name). It can even turn cafe patrons into clients, as they familiarise themselves with who works upstairs.

What makes a good cafe in a commercial space, and how do you get it right as a developer?


One of the things people don't often know about quantity surveyors is that we have a wealth of knowledge about what makes for a great retail and hospitality space. We add value to the design and build process by providing objective advice about the culture and foot traffic potential for a new building. It's important to get this right – you don't want to put a cafe or bar in an area that has little projected patronage.


When talking to prospective tenants, developers need to find a cafe brand that mixes well with the corporate tenants. If your new building is going to house law firms and accountants, a sleek and professional cafe brand will best suit their aesthetic – remember they'll often meet clients there for meetings. If, conversely, your development is going to host creative businesses like a design firm or PR company, a more underground coffee company adds to the appeal of their whole experience.


Cafes in commercial spaces like foyers function differently than standalone coffee shops. Clever use of glass to optimise natural light is key – a corporate cafe is used as a break-out space, and it's ideal if customers can get a dose of Vitamin D from the sun whilst away from their offices. These cafes also need larger areas and bar leaners to facilitate takeaway coffees (this will be much of the business and you don't want a queue out the door), comfortable seating arrangements, and unique design elements by way of wall panels, colour schemes and lighting.