Rob Roberts: Saints owner says bring on the brokers

Restaurateurs looking for new locations seldom broadcast the fact because they don’t want to be besieged.Scott Anderson, co-owner of the fast-growing Saints Pub + Patio chain, says, “Bring on the brokers.”

Anderson and partner Marc Mundt soon will open a new Saints in Shawnee — their third in the Kansas City area and seventh in the Midwest. They plan to open at least three or four more a year. But finding the best locations can be difficult for a young company like Anderson and Mundt’s Riley Drive Entertainment Inc., which opened its first Saints in Lenexa five years ago.

With nine restaurants and bars in the Kansas City area, Lawrence, Des Moines and Omaha, Riley Drive is nearly as big as competitors like the Tanner’s Bar & Grill chain and KC Hopps Ltd. But landlords and brokers with good locations generally call those older operators first, Anderson said.

“We’d like them to think of us when spaces become available,” he said.

Riley Drive tries to keep the cost of opening new locations at less than $350,000 each by occupying second-generation bar and grill spaces of less than 7,000 square feet.

Locally, Anderson is focusing on new spots in the Northland and southern Johnson County. In addition, he’s scouting the St. Louis, Denver and Dallas markets.

A well-known public-finance lawyer, Anderson said several factors are starting to make Saints stand out. It’s known for tasty bar food, outrageously cheap drink specials and free shuttle service.

“I’m a firm believer that the future of the bar business will be more about transportation than selling drinks,” Anderson said.

He also believes that the buck-saving stops with TVs. The company spends about $125,000 per location to install about 30 large flat-screens. It also spends about $20,000 a month onDirecTV packages for its nine locations.

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