Arrant Construction

How to Build and Design a Restaurant

How to Build and Design a Restaurant

Creating a restaurant offers you a clean slate to initiate restaurant construction, designing it according to your vision. Here’s a step-by-step guide to restaurant design and construction. 

Regretful sentiments often echo among restaurateurs when things don’t go according to plan, especially those venturing into their first restaurant construction project. 

Restaurant construction involves a myriad of tasks, from impressing potential investors to identifying and enlisting the services of experienced restaurant contractors. The minds of restaurateurs must juggle numerous responsibilities. 

In the pursuit of crafting an unforgettable restaurant concept, you’ll find various professionals, including restaurant designers, contractors, consultants, and specialists, all playing vital roles. 

Timelines must be carefully managed, and there’s a multitude of stakeholders involved, all while adhering to industry best practices for restaurant construction. In this guide, we will navigate the key considerations for building a restaurant, incorporating effective strategies to create a captivating and inclusive space for your future guests 

How to Undertake Restaurant Construction 

Constructing a restaurant requires adherence to a distinct set of rules and regulations, which differ significantly from those applicable to residential or other commercial establishments. Restaurant construction necessitates a comprehensive understanding of various codes, encompassing building, accessibility, and egress. 

As you begin your restaurant construction project, it’s vital to address the following key aspects: 

  1. Selecting Your Restaurant Construction Team: Carefully choose your team of restaurant contractors, designers, and construction experts.
  1. Establishing a Construction Timeline: Define a clear timeline for your restaurant construction project to ensure it stays on track.
  1. Choosing the Ideal Location: Determine the location where you intend to build your restaurant, considering factors like visibility and accessibility.
  1. Financial Planning: Develop a robust financial plan to cover the costs of your new restaurant’s construction.
  1. Leasing or Buying: Decide whether you will lease or purchase the space for your restaurant, taking into account your long-term goals.
  1. Permit Requirements: Identify any permits and licenses necessary to initiate and operate your restaurant.
  1. Local Regulations and Building Codes: Familiarize yourself with local regulations and building codes specific to restaurant design and construction in your area.

Restaurant Construction Advice 

When setting out to build a restaurant, you’ll invest your time, effort, and dedication into the project. Here are some major challenges that can be avoided with the right preparation and planning: 

  1. Engage Multiple Quotes and Opinions: Prioritize obtaining quotes and seeking insights from various restaurant contractors or construction companies. This approach may save you money and provide insights into industry standards.
  1. Adherence to Regulations: It cannot be stressed enough: follow all health, building, and regulatory codes diligently. Avoid cutting corners to prevent potential fines, lawsuits, and other legal issues.
  1. Consider Seasonal Variations and Crowds: Think ahead about how your decisions in restaurant construction and design will function in different seasons and in the event of increased popularity and crowds. Experienced restaurant construction companies understand these challenges and can help you plan accordingly.
  1. Flexible Timeline Planning: Understand that construction, in general, is not an exact science. Building a restaurant involves coordinating various teams and stakeholders. Create a timeline with flexibility, as adjustments may be necessary to meet your launch date.

By adhering to these guidelines and collaborating closely with restaurant contractors, restaurant designers, and reputable restaurant construction companies, you can enhance the success and efficiency of your restaurant construction project while minimizing potential setbacks. 

How long does it take to build a restaurant? 

As we said before, building a restaurant that is up to code and embodies your vision can take time. Depending on the type of restaurant, the timelines will look different as well. Building a restaurant construction schedule should factor in your various teams of engineers, contractors, specialists, and designers as well as your budget and resources. 

Projects A to Z estimate that building a new restaurant typically takes about four to six months from start to finish. They mention that on average, quick-service restaurant construction takes about 12 weeks (about 3 months), while fast-casual or full-service restaurants can take about four months to build. 

Now that you’ve thought through some of the specifics of restaurant building, here are 7 steps to transform your restaurant vision from dream to reality. 

Restaurant Construction Checklist 

  • When planning to build a restaurant, the first step is to locate experienced restaurant contractors or restaurant designers who specialize in restaurant design and construction. 
  • Selecting an ideal location is crucial, considering factors such as ample space, high foot traffic, convenient physical placement, and accessibility to utilities. 
  • Examine the availability of essential services, including electrical power, water supply, waste disposal, and more. 
  • It’s essential to carefully read and assess the lease agreement, involving both your restaurant construction companies and a qualified real estate attorney. 
  •  Adhering to building and regulatory codes is paramount throughout the restaurant construction process. 
  • Efficiently organize your equipment layout, consulting with experts in restaurant design and construction for expert guidance. 

Hire a Restaurant Construction Team 

Recent statistics from Cornell University reveal that a significant percentage of restaurants face failure in their early years of operation. In the first year alone, 26.16% of restaurants closed their doors, followed by 19.23% in the second year and 14.35% in the third year. To avoid becoming a part of these statistics, it is crucial to assemble an exceptional team for your restaurant construction project. 

Building a successful restaurant hinges on the expertise and diverse backgrounds that each member of your restaurant design and construction team brings to the project. From the moment construction commences, your team plays a pivotal role in ensuring every aspect of your restaurant’s creation is executed flawlessly. 

Additionally, consider the value of a restaurant architect, who can also function effectively as a project manager. These professionals create essential documents that outline the design intent of your restaurant, ensuring compliance with all relevant building codes, including accessibility and egress standards. 

Restaurant Architect

A restaurant architect remains involved throughout the entire restaurant construction process, from initial concept to project completion. They collaborate closely with all team members, offering unique design perspectives and making recommendations. Often, they can even suggest specialized consultants and vendors that you may not be aware of, enhancing the overall quality of your project. 

As you strive to build the ultimate design team, consider incorporating the following specialists alongside your architect, engineers, and general contractor: 

  • Commercial Kitchen Consultant: These expert designs and oversee the implementation of all kitchen equipment, ensuring efficiency in your restaurant’s culinary operations. 
  • Interior Designer: An interior designer will bring your restaurant’s vision to life, balancing your desires with what customers seek in a dining experience. 
  • Commercial Furniture Vendor: These professionals consult on and implement furniture that aligns with your restaurant’s concept and design. 
  • Lighting Consultant: A commercial lighting consultant guides you in selecting and designing the optimal lighting scheme for your space. 
  • Acoustical Consultant: Specializing in sound management, acoustical consultants install features like ceilings and walls to optimize sound quality within your restaurant. 
  • Millworker: Different from traditional carpenters, millworkers specialize in designing and installing various wood products, such as doors, molding, trim, and paneling. 
  • Graphic Designer: Your graphic designer will create essential branding materials, including logos, promotional materials, and content for your restaurant’s online presence. 
  • Web Developer: A web developer will design and code your restaurant’s website, enhancing your online presence and customer engagement. 

While these consultants may not always interact directly, they collaborate to align your vision and create a cohesive and unified concept and design for your restaurant. By assembling this exceptional team, you significantly enhance your chances of restaurant success. 

Selecting the Ideal Location for Your New Restaurant 

When considering the location of your new restaurant, it’s crucial to factor in elements like restaurant construction, restaurant contractors, and restaurant designers. You might be drawn to a space due to its spacious ceilings, ample natural light, and proximity to a university and public transportation. However, it’s equally important to ensure that the location accommodates the necessary provisions for restaurant design and construction, including exhaust systems for the cook line. 

While some restaurant concepts flourish in bustling urban areas, attracting local workers and students for lunch, the same concept may face challenges if situated as a standalone pad site in a suburban mall. To make informed decisions, consult with reputable restaurant construction companies and experts in restaurant design and construction. 

Assess Utilities and Services for Restaurant Construction 

When considering a potential location for your restaurant construction project, it’s essential to review the availability of utilities and services required for your restaurant concept to thrive. 

Before hiring an engineer, you should inquire about the existing utilities within the building. This will help you determine whether the space can accommodate the equipment needed for your restaurant. 

During the initial planning phase, your restaurant construction team collaborates closely with engineers to examine their sketches and plans. This collaboration provides insight into the utility requirements your restaurant will demand for successful operation. It aids you and your restaurant designer in making informed decisions regarding potential sites and their suitability. 

While exploring different locations, be sure to gather information about the size and location of key utilities, including: 

– Electrical Power 

– Water Supply 

– Sanitary and Grease Waste Systems 

– Sprinkler System 

– Gas Service 

– HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) 

– Hood Ducting, Venting, and Make-Up Air 

–  Fire Alarm System 

Understanding your restaurant concept’s utility needs from the outset is crucial. Determine whether the chosen space already has the necessary utilities in place and, if not, clarify who will be responsible for installing them. 

In some cases, landlords may cover the costs of bringing in essential utilities such as electricity, sewage, or water, especially if these additions benefit future tenants as well. However, any specialized services like Wi-Fi or cable required for your restaurant’s layout modifications will typically be the tenant’s responsibility. 

Once you’ve selected a location, your restaurant construction team will use the engineer’s recommendations to identify any missing utilities. They will then develop a comprehensive plan to ensure these utilities are integrated into your restaurant design and construction project. 

Examine the Lease 

Similar to architects, lawyers have their areas of expertise, often with distinct specializations. This is especially relevant in the realm of real estate law. 

Engage a real estate lawyer to scrutinize the lease agreement and discuss it with your team involved in restaurant construction or your chosen restaurant general contractor. They can pinpoint aspects within the lease that might influence your daily restaurant operations or offer insights into how it could affect your restaurant design and construction plans. 

For instance, within your lease agreement, there are typically two essential components: a lease outline drawing (LOD) and a work letter. 

The lease outline drawing serves as a visual floor plan of the premises, clearly demarcating the “lease line.” This lease line establishes your leasable square footage, which directly influences your rental calculations. Additionally, possessing a lease outline drawing can assist in anticipating any zoning or licensing regulations that might come into play during restaurant construction. 

Conversely, the work letter is a written agreement jointly signed by the landlord and tenant, outlining details concerning the outfitting of the tenant’s space. According to The Watchdog, a respected resource in real estate project management, a work letter is defined as follows: 

“A work letter is a written agreement jointly signed by the landlord and the tenant, outlining various aspects related to the customization of the tenant’s space. It sets the building standards and provides a breakdown of specifics, such as the number of light fixtures, doors, partition sizes, and all other interior elements that the landlord will install for the tenant. The work letter can either be a separate document or an exhibit attached to the lease. Typically, the lease is executed before all items in the work letter are negotiated and agreed upon.” 

Take a thorough look at your lease, focusing on specific clauses that could impede progress. Then, consider proposing any necessary addendums that maximize the utilization of your designated space for restaurant construction. 

Ensuring Code Compliance in Restaurant Construction 

When it comes to restaurant construction, it’s crucial to adhere to building codes without cutting corners. These codes, including egress and accessibility requirements, play a significant role in ensuring the safety and compliance of your establishment. 

Egress codes dictate the number and size of exit routes a building must have in case of emergencies like fires. The specific number and size depend on the room’s square footage and dimensions. It’s worth noting that commercial egress codes differ from residential ones, so consulting with experienced restaurant designers and contractors is essential to stay in compliance. 

Accessibility codes are equally important, ensuring that your restaurant is wheelchair friendly. This involves installing ramps near stairs, maintaining appropriate hallway widths, and selecting flooring materials that don’t hinder wheelchair mobility. 

Neglecting building codes can have costly consequences. For instance, if you try to narrow a corridor or reduce restroom size to gain extra space, you might find yourself in legal trouble down the line, facing a lawsuit from a physically challenged patron who can’t access the restroom. 

To avoid such risks, it’s imperative to follow building codes diligently during the restaurant design and construction process. Rely on the expertise of restaurant contractors and designers who can guide you in meeting and even exceeding these standards, safeguarding your business from future setbacks. 

Selecting the Right Layout for Restaurant Construction 

When considering the layout of your restaurant’s kitchen equipment, it’s essential to prioritize not just operational efficiency but also the overall design of your establishment. The coordination between your chosen kitchen equipment vendor and the restaurant architect or designer is crucial in this process. 

In the initial stages of restaurant design and construction, there may be a question of whether to start with the kitchen layout or the broader design of the restaurant’s interior. This decision isn’t set in stone; what matters most is the seamless communication and collaboration between your kitchen equipment vendor, restaurant architect, and restaurant contractors. 

The process of building a restaurant involves multiple stakeholders, each contributing their expertise. Maintaining an open and ongoing dialogue among all parties ensures that your project aligns with your original vision. 

For instance, when you collaborate with a kitchen equipment company to devise an ideal layout, they may pass it on to your restaurant architect or restaurant construction team. While the proposed layout might appear to optimize the placement of kitchen stations in relation to prep areas, storage, and dishwashing, your restaurant architect might identify the need for additional spaces, such as a manager’s office, employee lockers, and room for a water heater. They might also highlight compliance issues like cramped pathways and dead ends. 

Starting over is not necessary. By leveraging the expertise of both the kitchen equipment vendor and the restaurant architect, you can work together to develop a layout that satisfies all requirements, ensuring the success of your restaurant construction project. 

Tailoring Restaurant Design to Your Restaurant Type 

Designing a restaurant that aligns with your restaurant type is crucial. Depending on whether you run a Fast Casual Restaurant, Quick Service Restaurant (QSR), Fine Dining Establishment, or something unique, your restaurant design and construction must cater to its specific needs. 

For Fast Casual Restaurants, the focus should be on creating a layout that encourages a smooth customer flow. Your design should guide patrons from the entrance to the service counter, through the service line as orders are prepared, then on to payment, beverage stations, and seating. 

In the case of Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs), optimizing space is key. With a smaller footprint, an efficient kitchen layout design is essential to accommodate essential equipment in limited square footage. Similarly, the customer seating area must maximize seating without feeling cramped. 

Full-service restaurants have their unique requirements. These establishments lack service counters or defined service lines. Instead, they prioritize ample customer seating, often with server stations nearby. Well-planned walkways should traverse the floor plan, facilitating easy movement for servers delivering orders from the kitchen to tables. 

Tailoring your floor plan to suit your restaurant type is vital. Consider the initial actions you want customers to take upon entering. Ensure your restaurant design and construction naturally guide patrons through various service points, enhancing their overall experience. If you’re looking for expert guidance, you can engage with experienced restaurant contractors, designers, and construction companies. 

The Path to Success in Restaurant Design and Construction 

When it comes to restaurant construction, assembling the right team of restaurant contractors and designers is essential. The process of building a restaurant may seem challenging, but with the right professionals, it becomes a rewarding endeavor. 

While you may have a clear vision for your restaurant, it’s crucial to recognize that restaurant design and construction require a collaborative effort. Just as Rome was not built by one-person, iconic establishments like Gramercy Tavern, Jaleo, or Toro were brought to life by a dedicated team. 

To ensure your restaurant’s success, start by conducting thorough research within the industry. Connect with experienced restaurant construction companies, find the right restaurant designers and contractors for your project, and place your trust in your chosen team. By doing so, you’ll position your restaurant for success well before its grand opening.

So, what are you waiting for? Contact Arrant Construction for build and design a restaurant in Houston & Dallas, TX.

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