As a Commercial Realtor (as well as a Business Broker), and a former restaurateur, I understand and agree with you. Mall or shopping center landlords are the worst, from my perspective. They don't understand food, and frankly, most people that open restaurants are too trusting about these things, until they get hit over the head. I have had to fight with tenants about wanting to ask for exclusivity from the landlord, because they don't want to cause friction!
The thing that the landlord's don't get is that they think Retail is Retail is Retail. They don't get that, if you buy a sweater at Macy's, then go to Eddie Bauer's and see another sweater, you might buy both; but if you go to McDonalds and eat a Big Mac, you ain't necessarily going to go to Burger King in the same mall and eat a Whopper there, as well! All they care about is filling a hole in the storefronts, rather than whether any particular one succeeds.
In the Malls in Baltimore (and I am certain elsewhere), another problem is that tenancy is , so to compensate, the landlords are pumping rents up 40%, 50% or more, with each renewal. That is driving even more stores out of business that were doing quite well, in spite of the economy.
Finally, any of you who is in a shopping center or mall, and not part of a national franchise or brand, be very concerned. The move over the past several years is branding. You could have the most successful independent operation in the mall, and the landlord will frequently find a way to price you out, or find any other way he/she can to get you to leave, if he/she can bring in a national brand. Starbucks, William Sanoma and other have been responsible for supplanting local operators in that way, all over the Country. And restaurants are absolutely the biggest target on the hit list. In a bad economy, the landlords think the big brands can withstand that kind of adversity more than independents; and they look to the brands to bring traffic (people) to the mall or shopping center, that locals or independents can't bring in.
I agree, John. It is a sad scenario.