The Family Plan: CBRE’s strategy for growing a successful restaurant into a booming business

Gloria'sCategory: Restaurant Representation, Retailer Representation


Gloria’s is a Dallas-based, family-operated, Salvadoran-Tex-Mex concept founded in 1986 in Dallas’ Bishop Arts District. After several successful years in business and receiving much praise for its great food, Gloria’s began to develop a long term vision for growth in Dallas and throughout the state of Texas.

In pursuing its expansion, Gloria’s held several short term relationships with brokers where the owner felt those representing them did not understand their plan for growth. They found brokers proposing short term solutions for the next restaurant, instead of building a leasing strategy with long term growth plans built into their site selection. After struggling to establish representation that understood their long term vision, Gloria’s began pursuing new locations without any real estate representation.


Gloria’s had a great concept and was poised to grow but struggled to find a partner to help represent their interests and secure quality, defensible locations that would bring long term value to their growth plan.

When negotiating on their own behalf with CBRE property leasing representative Brandon Harris, they ended up developing a strong working relationship with CBRE and started discussions of what a tenant representation partnership would look like. At first, Gloria’s utilized CBRE as a consultant to supplement the market knowledge that they lacked; however, they soon realized that CBRE could bring a lot to the table in terms of deal negotiations, economic terms and developer interest and decided hire CBRE to serve as Gloria’s de facto real estate department.

Establish Trust

CBRE’s first step in growing this concept was to establish trust with the owners. The broker working with Gloria’s previously owned and operated his own restaurant, and this experience proved pivotal to the newly developing relationships, because he understood the politics involved with a family-owned restaurant and how to work with each side of the business.

CBRE took time to listen to our client and understand their goals and objectives, then incorporated that feedback into an expansion strategy. CBRE was transparent and kept an open dialogue with the owners throughout the process.

As such, CBRE was able to establish a strong, trusting relationship with Gloria’s owner. Retail real estate is about relationships with not just developers and landlords, but, in this situation, also the owner and his family.

Stick to the Strategy

After understanding the owner’s vision, we sat down and created a map to achieve this goal. This included seeking market research on the areas the owner wanted to expand into. We worked to determine if the concept would be successful in a location before we even looked for space. This also included keeping both the client and our team on track with the strategy and staying focused on the location and timing of each new opening.

Leverage Relationships

CBRE’s relationships with landlords and developers, combined with our market and industry knowledge helped our team organically secure Gloria’s new locations in Dallas, Houston and Austin. We used these relationships to identify hot locations before leasing signs even went up.

CBRE’s reputation in the market also helped ensure that the client secure optimum space and retail store frontage.


Since beginning our relationship with Gloria’s in 2006, CBRE has:

  • Opened more than seven Gloria’s throughout the state of Texas, averaging one new location every 18 to 24 months.
  • Secured on average $80-$100 per square foot in tenant improvements, as well as an abundance of retail store frontage per location.
  • Opened locations in Austin and Houston with plans for further growth in those markets.

“Since we have been using CBRE for our real estate for the past several years, we have been exposed to better opportunities throughout the markets that we are pursuing. Their relationships within the industry are unmatched, and they have been great negotiators on our behalf. I also feel that I am able to trust them implicitly, and know that they have my best interest at heart. They truly place emphasis on the relationship and not the deal.”

— Jose Fuentes, Owner of Gloria's Restaurant

Lessons Learned

  • Always apply the golden rule in real estate transactions – and not just with your own clients. How you treat the party on the other side of the table will benefit you in that transaction and may lead to a deeper relationship in the future.
  • Strong relationships with landlords and developers are necessary to maintain and exceed client expectations in gaining the best possible locations at the best prices.
  • Sometimes it’s not just the company, but the individual representative that matters. While a company might offer lots of experience and a solid platform, it’s the experience and personal relationship of the representative you’re working with that sometimes matters most. In this case, having a broker with experience owning and operating a family chain of restaurants brought important insight, understanding and trust to the relationship, which in turn led to a successful roll out.


Image Credit: MSC Design LLC, Gloria’s Restaurants, Studio Art’s Desire