CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On a cold day in NoDa, a hungry group of morning people wait for tasty treats to come out of this window. Little do they know that behind the brick, the crew at Reigning Doughnuts operates in just 88 square feet of space.

"We had a storage closet... We're like okay, what can we do with this closet,” questioned owner Jeff Tonidandel. “Yes, We make everything to order in the closet."

Jeff Tonidandel said the bite-sized bakery happened not only because they had the space for it - it's shared with his Growlers and Crepe Cellar restaurants - but because they couldn't find a new place to put it.

"Real estate's definitely tightening up for restaurants and its getting expensive," Tonidandel explained.

Commercial real estate broker Michael Emig agreed. 

"You're starting to see an inventory shortage with commercial real estate,” Emig said. “And price per square foot on a retail commercial front are definitely increased right now."

That's likely why he said he's starting to see a trend of business owners focus efforts on opening smaller storefronts.

"It’s very low overhead. Not big of a risk as opening a 1,000 (or) 2,000 square foot store. Not a lot to lose! More to gain,” added Emig.

The gain for Tonidandel is not just another restaurant under his belt, though – it’s a chance to also brighten up an itty-bitty section of a neighborhood his family loves so much.

"This was kind of a little dark corner. It’s now lit up, people are hanging out here, having coffee and doughnuts. Just add to the neighborhood, create a good vibe here and have fun with it,” Tonidandel said. 

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