Times of challenge create opportunity – and while the pandemic has presented plenty of hurdles for restaurant operators, it is also revealing new possibilities for those with the resources and flexibility to snap them up. Case in point: A number of large restaurant brands are planning aggressive franchise expansion right now. According to a recent Restaurant Dive report, lower taxes, milder weather and more relaxed Covid restrictions have made the South and Southeast U.S. attractive targets for restaurant expansion lately. Shake Shack, for one, announced that it will be adding up to 50 new locations in 2022 – its largest expansion to date. Even for independents and smaller chain restaurants, there are opportunities. As restaurants have closed during the difficult months of the pandemic, some are leaving behind real estate pre-configured for drive-through business, along with heavy-duty equipment that may be available at a reduced cost. With an excess of restaurant real estate on the market, look for more preferable terms from landlords as well – particularly in higher-end locations that may have been out of reach pre-pandemic. Finally, if you’re open to less conventional arrangements, consider other restaurants or even complementary businesses that may want to join forces via sub-leasing arrangements or other partnerships that can help you both bring business in the door.