The restaurant and nightclub business has more than a fleeting connection to the entertainment business. And no one knows this better than Athan “Tom” Prakas, president of The Prakas Group. The 52-year-old owner of the Boca Raton-based commercial real estate brokerage company, which specializes in restaurant and nightclub sales and leasing, represented Danny DeVito as the exclusive broker for the actor’s chic South Beach restaurant, DeVito South Beach, which opened in June 2007. Prakas also recently brokered the sale of the glamorous La Vieille Maison, Boca Raton’s most famous French restaurant for more than 30 years. ]
A 25-year veteran of the restaurant and nightclub industry, Prakas has owned and operated 27 restaurants, nightclubs and sports bars during his career in Ohio, Atlanta, and South Florida. And this experience guided him toward establishing the Prakas Group in 2000.
Since then, he and his 16 agents/brokers, many of whom are also veterans of the restaurant and nightclub business, have completed more than 200 transactions. Revenues from sales and leasing at the Prakas Group in 2007 were around $70 million, compared to around $60 million the year before. “With the month of January behind us, it seems like our sales are the same as last year,” notes Prakas.
Although The Prakas Group is best known for brokering sales and leases for restaurants, nightclubs and other hospitality businesses, only about 30% of sales are from leasing commissions, said Prakas. Another third comes from the sale of commercial properties, land or real estate, rather than a business, and one-third comes from sales of businesses, mostly restaurants and nightclubs.
Prakas has arranged many transactions in South Florida over the last eight years, with some outside of the region, but he is most well-known for his work in Delray Beach. In fact, the Prakas Group has done 42 deals in that northern Palm Beach city and brokered 23 of 26 restaurant leases on Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach in the last four years.
And last fall, Prakas teamed up with The Finance Group, a mortgage broker that is now a division of the Prakas Group. It
finances deals, mostly in the restaurant and hospitality industry, between $3 million and $10 million.
In 2006, Prakas opened an office in Orlando, and The Prakas Group in January 2008 brokered a lease for a 10,000sf space for Valentino’s Vin Bar, a restaurant chain that started in Las Vegas. The Orlando location is the former site of Lee’s Lakeside restaurant on the south shore of Lake Eola in downtown Orlando, which has been closed for a couple of years, said Prakas. The restaurant is expected to open in another three to four months.
On Jan. 1, 2008, The Prakas Group became a partner with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. It has taken over the organization’s business opportunity Web site, which is designed to help clients who want to sell their small businesses, including restaurants, for less than $150,000. The Web site is called RestaurantBizSales.com and is run by Prakas’ wife, Donna. “It was a service we saw a need for,” said Prakas, because so many small businesses today get their start on the Internet.
Hortense Leon // Florida Real Estate Journal