Not every entrepreneurial idea is transferable to every community, but it is always nice to at least consider the possibilities. For that reason I'm suggesting you think about multiple businesses occupying the same space…I've decided to call it a Co-BIZ!
The example I saw, that seemed to be working very well was in Urban, Illinois. I was in town for a University of Illinois Extension conference Nov. 17th and stopped by the Flying Machine at 208 W. Main Street, Urbana, IL (find more about them HERE). The Flying Machine is an upscale coffee bar, but in addition they share their space with Pizza-M that specializes in gourmet pizzas. (Find more about Pizza-M HERE). They do not "split" the space in two. Instead they seamlessly blend the two into one space so it looks like just one large space with lots of food and drink options.
Unlike a Co-op, this Co-Biz is two distinctly different businesses under one roof. According to the owner of Pizza-M they were fortunate enough to find a building owner that agreed to negotiate two different leases, one for each business owner. Then they split things like utilities etc. which makes the overhead costs much easier to handle for each business.
For many downtowns in rural America attracting businesses that can afford to build-out, lease and support buildings that were designed for a much different business style in the 1880's to 1960's can be a real struggle. Looking at the idea of multiple businesses occupying the same space until each are ready to expand into their own building is a unique idea. Something that I think is worth considering.
To make things easier, I would suggest getting separate legal counsel to negotiate and draw up a contract up-front that defines exactly how the space will be shared and how costs will be divided. I would not recommend that a Co-BIZ be agreed to on a handshake. Partnerships of any kind are difficult and better to negotiate terms during the "honey moon" period than wait until you run into issues.
Note: Coffee was excellent and the pizza was sublime and gluten free. Oh, and one more thing they also serve craft beer. If you are in Urbana, please stop by.