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The Book

Restaurant Dealmaker: An Insider’s Trade Secrets For Buying a Restaurant, Bar or Club

by Steve D. Zimmerman, president/owner of Restaurant Realty

Learn my trade secrets from being a front-line restaurant, bar, and club owner/operator, as well as my extensive experience as a buyer and seller of many restaurants, bars and clubs.

Who Benefits

Throughout the book,  I share my experiences and knowledge from my 21+ years of restaurant experience, and more than 30 years of real estate experience. Having worn many hats as a restaurant, bar, and club owner/operator, buyer, seller, landlord, and broker, I want to share my years of experience to make it easier for prospective restaurant, bar or club buyers to learn how to effectively purchase a business. My goal is to help a buyer understand the key things he, or she, needs to know in order to minimize mistakes and to make a successful, well-thought-out purchase. I want this purchase to have a strong chance for success, subject to buyers operating the business properly after they take ownership.

About The Book

For a 45 year period (1950-1996), my family owned and operated: (a) Zim’s Restaurants, the largest independent non-franchised restaurant chain in San Francisco, (b) Nearly 35 restaurants, bars and/or clubs in Northern California including Zim’s Restaurants, Z’s Bountiful Buffets, Kibby’s Drive Ins, and Casa Carlita’s Mexican Restaurants, and, (c) Miscellaneous other operations, including many cocktail lounges.

Today, I own Restaurant Realty Company, the largest restaurant, bar and club business brokerage in California. I have personally sold over 1000 restaurant, bar and club businesses, and I have completed over 2,500 business valuations since 1996.

Endorsements & Raves

“Steve Zimmerman is the consummate restaurant, bar, and club dealmaker. Fortunately, he has codified is many years of broad experience in this book, one that will serve as the “bible” for restaurant and related acquisitions. It is the ultimate guide for the industry.”

— William P. Fisher, Ph.D., Darden Chair, University of Central Florida, and former Professor Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Also CEO, National Restaurant Association, and of American Hotel & Lodging Association

“I have been acquainted with Steve Zimmerman for 15 years. Steve knows the restaurant and related real estate business inside and out, and when I sell a restaurant, Steve is the first, and only, person I call to handle the listing. Restaurateurs are a unique breed, and Steve’s intimate knowledge of the industry ensures that maximum value is achieved for his clients. His book is a must buy for the first timer, or the seasoned pro.”

– Noah Alper, founder of Noah’s Bagels (a $100 million company) and business consultant

“I met Steve in 1995 when he represented the seller of Art & Larry’s Deli in San Rafael, CA. This was one of Steve’s first brokerage transactions, but his creativity and tenacity were the keys to completing this transaction. The location became our third Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria, and we have operated successfully there ever since. Ten years later, Steve represented the owners of a premium San Francisco property where we were able to open another Amici’s. Although this was a complex transaction, it was completed both quickly and smoothly. No one understands the restaurant brokerage business better than Steve Zimmerman. This terrific book is required reading for anyone considering buying or selling a restaurant or bar.”

– Peter Cooperstein, President, Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria, one of the highest sales-volume-per-unit independent pizza chains in the country

“Whether you already are a veteran restaurant owner, buying one, considering buying one, or even just thinking about it, Steve Zimmerman’s latest book “Restaurant Dealmaker—An Insider’s Trade Secrets for Buying a Restaurant, Bar, or Club,” is a must.  His father owned a chain of well-known restaurants in San Francisco, and Steve began his restaurant career at age eight stacking cheese and scooping out hamburger patties. Steve has had every job possible in his 20 plus years in the restaurant business.
Today, Steve is owner of Restaurant Realty and has been personally involved in over 800 restaurant/bar transactions and has performed over 2,500 valuations of restaurants, bars and clubs. He is, indeed, an insider and this book proves it. Ten very full chapters cover every aspect of purchasing, selling and operating a successful restaurant, bar, or club. As the old saying goes: “If it’s not in Steve’s book, you really don’t need to know it.”

– Tom West, founder and past president of several large business brokerage firms, and also a founder, past president, and former executive director of the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA). He is also the founder of Business Brokerage Press, the leading publisher of educational and informational publications and services for the Business Brokerage profession.

“I became acquainted with Steve over 20 years ago, and have retained him as a recognized expert on restaurant evaluation issues, as well as due diligence and standards of professional care in restaurant brokerage and sales. I have also represented him in brokerage and general business matters on a regular basis. Steve’s knowledge and experience in the restaurant business, as well as his highly focused brokerage practice, has made him the top expert in California in these areas, and a highly valuable resource to the industry. His clearly superior qualifications have made him an undisputedly qualified expert in arbitration and litigation. He is uniquely qualified to share his expertise with restaurant owners, buyers, sellers, and owners, and the perfect person to author this book. I highly recommend it as an invaluable resource.”

– William G. Priest, Jr., Attorney at Law; Professor of Real Estate Law at Lincoln Law School; mediator, arbitrator and temporary Judge Pro-Tem at Santa Clara County Superior Court since 1980; and a founding member of California Association of Business Brokers

“I have known Steve for about 20 years, through his participation in the California Association of Business Brokers (CABB) and the International Association of Business Brokers (IBBA). Steve has created a great niche in our industry, and has been very successful in our profession. His knowledge in the restaurant and bar arena is far superior to most (if not all) of us in the Business Brokerage profession. This is due, not only his tremendous experience in selling restaurants and bars over the years, but also because of the knowledge about the restaurant and bar operations he learned as a young man while working in his father’s restaurant businesses.
Steve has created a unique business model that he unselfishly shares with other business brokers in the numerous workshops that he has presented at our professional conferences over the years. A very smart businessman, he is always willing to share his ideas and knowledge at our conferences, and is the model of a successful business broker and entrepreneur. His book will be a very valuable asset to those in the restaurant and bar industry as they think about investing in, expanding, or exiting the businesses.”

– Ronald (Ron) Johnson, M&AMI, CBI, CBB, Chairman of ABI, Past President of the CABB, and 2007 Chairman of the IBBA

“The much-referenced phrase “location, location, location” is no longer viable in the restaurant industry: there is too much competition. Today the mantra is: location, the right concept at that location, and the right sales-to-investment ratio. Contrary to popular belief, restaurants are no more prone to failure than any other business; it’s just that the industry tends to attract a lot of high-level risk takers. Anyone who spends the time to read and study Steve Zimmerman’s new book will get an excellent education in terms of owning and operating a successful and profitable restaurant.”

– Charles M. Perkins, President, The Boston Restaurant Group, Inc.

“As a long-time successful entrepreneur preparing to enter the restaurant business, I was aware that this was a very different business—and I was far from confident about how to proceed. What did I need to know as a prospective buyer? What was the smartest way to proceed? Fortunately, I must say how pleased I am that I ended up with an advanced copy of Steve’s book. Every one of my questions, and much more, were answered, with great depth of information. Bottom line—If you’re considering buying a restaurant, bar, or club, I highly recommend this book.”

– Ted Hunter, author and radio talk show host,

“I recently purchased a large multi-million dollar café/bakery operation, and Steve handled the transaction for me, as well as the sellers. His knowledge of the business was helpful in making the due diligence process easy, and Restaurant Realty’s expertise in completing hundreds of deals was evident in the smooth way the business closed escrow. I strongly recommend Steve’s book to any serious buyer or seller who wants to learn the fine points in getting the deal done.”

– Sunny Bajwa, owner, Basque Boulangerie, Sonoma, CA

“I have known Steve for the past twenty years. He has done more than anyone else I know to create a robust marketplace for the purchase and sale of restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have recommended Steve’s services frequently to clients due to his knowledge, integrity and work ethic. This book is a “must read” for the restaurant entrepreneur.”

– Edward N. Levine, owner & CEO at Vine Solutions Inc. (a leading restaurant accounting and consulting firm) and owner of Left Bank Brasseries & LB Steak. Previous positions were interim CEO at Gordon Biersch Brewing Company, and CFO, Il Fornaio Restaurants

“With 20 years in the bar and restaurant industry, and having opened numerous places from scratch, I know the intricacies and details involved in getting it right the first time. I have also worked with Steve as a buyer and seller of my businesses. Steve’s book provides you with the guidelines you need to open your own successful business and more importantly, it provides you with the key questions you need to ask.”

– Greg Medow, owner of Hobson’s Choice Bar and Flanahan’s Bar, and partner in many restaurant and/or bar businesses, and previously owned Indigo Restaurant/Bar and Jade Bar


“A few years ago Steve conducted one of the most popular and informative webinars we’ve ever had on Decades of experience as both a restaurant operator and business brokerage professional give Steve a depth of knowledge and experience that would greatly benefit anyone seeking to make that crucial decision of whether or not to buy a particular restaurant or bar. I will advise our members to not even consider buying a restaurant, bar. or club without first reading this book.”

– Jim Laube, Founder & President,

“I have worked with Steve Zimmerman over the years in several restaurant sales transactions. I would certainly work with him again as I respect his professionalism, knowledge, and overall integrity. He is an experienced operator of restaurants, understands the business, and has the know how to manage and close his sales transactions in a timely manner. I highly recommend Steve’s book as an excellent resource and guide when seeking knowledge in selling or purchasing a restaurant.”

– Ray V. Bartolomucci, Founder and President of Strizzi’s and Rigatoni’s Restaurants

“Steve was a guest lecturer in my class for over five years, and did an excellent job teaching several hundred culinary students restaurant: valuation, site selection analysis, lease analysis, the basics on how to write a business plan, and several other pertinent business subjects. Steve’s book covers many of the items he taught at the school, and his fine track record as a successful restaurateur and top restaurant broker supports the excellent material he discusses in the book. This book is a “must read” for all restaurant buyers and sellers.”

– Chef Larry Michael, Senior Chef Instructor,
California Culinary Academy

“I have known Steve Zimmerman for 25 years, and worked with him for the bulk of that time. I have found him to be an invaluable resource for both buying and selling restaurant real estate for my own company as well as for clients of my consulting business. Restaurant Realty’s extensive listing of properties at any given time is a veritable candy store for current and would-be restaurateurs. Steve’s personal commitment of time and expertise to every deal helps make most transactions and closings smooth and painless. I know of no one with more experience in the field of buying and selling restaurants than Steve Zimmerman.”

– Michael Dellar, Co-Founder, President & CEO, Lark Creek Restaurant Group, a $50 million plus sales company

“I have worked with Steve Zimmerman for over a decade on various accounting and legal matters. Steve is, undoubtedly, an expert in his field, and his background as a restaurant owner and operator, landlord and broker, is evident by the comprehensive job he has done in preparing this informative book—a must for all restaurant, bar, and club buyers and sellers.”

– Thomas Velladao, Esq, CPA, MS Tax, Uboldi, Heinke & Velladao LLP

About the Author

Steven Zimmerman

Steven Zimmerman has personally sold/leased over 800 restaurant, bar or club businesses, many commercial buildings and completed over 2,500 valuations since 1996. His real estate experience also includes sales, acquisitions, management and ownership of numerous properties throughtout California including restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings and single family homes. Prior to starting Restaurant Realty Company Steven had over 20 years of restaurant experience and was President and CEO of Zim’s Restaurants, which was one of the largest privately owned restaurant chains in the San Francisco Bay Area. Steven is a graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Business Administration and Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. He holds a California State Real Estate Brokers License (Lic. ID#01310250), State of California Lifetime College Teaching Certificate, and he has earned the industry’s top designations for advanced education which include: the Certified Business Broker (CBB) designation awarded by the California Association of Business Brokers and the Certified Business Intermediary (CBI) designation awarded by the International Business Brokers Association. Steven has lectured at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and has taught management courses at San Francisco City College Hotel and Restaurant School and the former School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management at Golden Gate University. Steven has been a regular guest lecturer at the California Culinary Academy (CCA) in San Francisco for several years and he currently teaches the principles of business brokerage to other real estate brokers. He is a member of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, California Restaurant Association, Cornell University’s Hotel Society, Cornell University’s Real Estate Council, California Association of Business Brokers (CABB) and the International Association of Business Brokers (IBBA). Steven serves on the CABB Board of Directors and Education committee and he serves on the HFLA (a non-profit institutional lender) Board of Directors and is Vice Chairman of the HFLA Business Loan committee. Steven has been a regular speaker at the International Association of Business Brokers international conferences.