The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: Commercial real estate — not for the faint-of-heart

Ask any business owner about starting a venture, and he or she will tell you that prime real estate is key, especially for customer-driven businesses such as restaurants or retail stores.

Here in Nashua, it would seem like there are barely any perfect spots left for constructing a new business or leasing a ready space in our highly traveled downtown.

But after checking around, it seems there are a few goldmine sites available if you’ve got the money to move on them.

For example, I take my car to H. Daw Service Station at 265 Main St. (sprawling Southern NH Medical Center sits across the street).

Next door to the service station sits a chunk of vacant land at 267 Main St. A gas station used to be there, but the the business mysteriously disappeared. I would guess the lot has been empty for at least 15 years.

My friends were excited to tell me that, finally, something’s going in there. And what might that be? Why, another Dunkin’ Donuts, of course.

I’m not a coffee drinker, so I wouldn’t know a caramel mocha from a butter pecan swirl. But I am addicted to jelly doughnuts, and could easily polish off three right in front of you.

It would appear that a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise never seems to miss making a great profit, but the Boston-based chain is in a race these days with Starbucks, which offers fancier beverages and has twice as many U.S. locations.

A lot of people dream of owning a franchise business, but the start-up costs are not for the faint-of-heart.

For example, according to, this is what you need: The estimated initial investment for a new restaurant can range from $109,700 to a little more than $1.6 million, not including real estate.

OK, so I’m out.

By the way, here in the Gate City, residents sure “run on Dunkins” because there are 15 of the establishments at the moment, according to Google.

Yeah, it’s a bit ludicrous and over saturated when you think about it, but our Queen City friends have even more. I counted 20 franchises for Manchester.

There are two more highly visible spots for a downtown business here in Nashua. The former Collins Flowers at Library Hill (5-9 Main St.) is now for sale at $599,000. It’s a wonderful landmark appropriate for mixed-use or street retail, but parking is not plentiful. Then again, you can’t beat the visibility and prime location.

There’s also a long and narrow beige building I pass often that has been on the market for what seems like forever. The building at 231 Main St., next door to City Hall, used to be a former jewelry and jewelry repair shop.

The building is just a few yards from the iconic John F. Kennedy bust. It’s another amazing location in the heart of the city.

The sale price is $165,000. Again, parking is not the best, but it is “a walker’s paradise” as the broker describes it, and it’s next to Norton’s Classic Cafe.

I envision owning a tiny Greek eatery on the property. It would feature salads with feta, lamb, spinach pita and baklava to go. I know I could make a mint just from the employees at City Hall during lunchtime.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at