While the news that Cafe Montmartre is closing its doors made waves after it was confirmed by the owners Tuesday, it wasn't a complete surprise. It was known for some time that the business was for sale.
Other well known Madison restaurants are for sale right now -- some openly, like the venerable Nitty Gritty on Frances Street, some under-the-radar.
Take, for example, this unnamed spot that's for sale in the 53715 zip code (near campus and Regent Street): "Located near Campus & Kohl Center, this historic restaurant/bar, renovated in '07, is a perfect business opportunity. Full Kitchen, established clientele, outdoor smoking pavilion, original bar, some antique fixtures. Owner ready to move on, bring an offer. Confidentiality agreement required."
The website propertydrive.com, reached through a link on the Madison Central BID website, lists five restaurant/bar businesses for sale in central Madison. Two are named outright -- The Nitty Gritty and Flavor of India, on the Square.
Three others are just described, in terms specific enough to be tantalizing but vague enough so that the venue is not 100% identifiable.
Businesses change hands all the time, of course. But often when a business is for sale, it's not named outright except to serious potential buyers. Unlike selling a private residence, where signs, photos and open houses are a matter of course, information about businesses that are for sale are more often cloaked with a "Confidentiality agreement required" statement. Owners don't want to upset staff or potential customers.
This can create a guessing game of sorts. Take this for-sale listing for an unnamed Madison business listed on businessbroker.net: What is the "eclectic European-style market cafe" with "pastries baked on-site" that also serves "reasonably priced lunches and fabulous chocolates" in a first floor space in "an architecturally award winning building" that is for sale? Anyone? Would it help to mention that it also has off-street parking spaces?