As COVID-19 shutters manyrestaurants around the country, one company is exploringopportunities to acquire vacant or closed restaurants and bars withkitchen space.

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Cordia recently launched adivision called Virtual Dining Brands to consolidate its virtualconcepts. The company's virtual restaurants are intended to scaleaggressively. The company already has two active onlinerestaurants—Vegas.Pizza and KO Sports Bar and Grill—operating now.It also has a burger restaurant called Supreme Burger that isslated to launch soon.

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Peter Klamka, CEO of Cordia, whoowns a restaurant and is involved in the nightclub industry in LasVegas and Los Angeles, actually began building his off-premisebusiness model last year as he noticed more of his food salescoming from delivery. But COVID's restaurant closings have made hisbusiness plan even more relevant.

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"In my restaurant in Vegas, Ihave a big commercial kitchen," Klamka says. "Using these deliveryapps, I can run ten restaurants out of this out of thislocation."

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Some of those restaurants couldbe attached to celebrities. Klamka, who says he has worked onlicensing agreements with Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson and PresidentTrump, and is planning celebrity-branded delivery restaurants aspart of this new division.

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"We have a couple of celebritycontracts that we're negotiating," Klamka says. "I'll have fiveconcepts that you can leverage and take out anywhere. The otheropportunity is catering. For people who are going back to theoffice, catering is becoming important. They [employers] don't wantthe employees going out."

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In Vegas, Klamka says he has beenable to test which celebrity restaurants are more popular. "You canalso test the concept," he says. "This is my laboratory, asdelivery becomes the primary way people are starting to getfood."

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Cordia is also working with anational food distributor to allow for the ordering of necessaryingredients by potential operators around the country. "We can takeover a closed Subway and be in business tomorrow, generatingrevenue through Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, Seamless and all ofthose apps," Klamka says.

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Cordia, which will generaterevenue through the sale of ingredients to its licensees inaddition to potential royalties, believes that landlords willwelcome activating vacant spaces. He is targeting spaces with 1,500square feet. Along with Subways, Klamka thinks strip center Chineserestaurants and spaces inside of office buildings (which can becatering hubs) are viable targets for Cordia. 

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"Our goal is to take over closedspaces," Klamka says. "We won't need improvements. Parking is more important to us."

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The company forecasts a mixtureof Cordia owned stores and licensed partners in its plannedportfolio.

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"I have had inquiries fromCleveland, Ann Arbor, Los Angeles and San Diego," Klamka says."We're picking our spots in certain markets. Some of them we'regoing to do, and some of them we will partner with somebody and doit."

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Klamka thinks this is the righttime to push Cordia, given that the costs to go into the restaurantbusiness are less than usual.

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"The real estate and the talentare cheap," Klamka says. "Restaurants are getting evicted, andmalls have extra space with places that aren't going to be sit downrestaurants anymore. So there is all of this extra kitchen spacearound."

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Leslie Shaver

Les Shaver has been covering commercial and residential real estate for almost 20 years. His work has appeared in Multifamily Executive, Builder, units, Arlington Magazine in addition to GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum.