Planning for Design

Bringing in appropriate design consultation early in the planning process of a new restaurant is an important step that will save you time and money.

Here are five things to consider when planning/designing your space that are too often overlooked.

1. Before signing a lease, evaluate existing building conditions: When you are looking at potential spaces, have an experienced architect/designer look at it with you. You will get invaluable insight on how the future space can be used and how much work will be involved in getting it up and running. Many times things have been “grandfathered in” for previous owners but will need to be upgrade to meet the current building code.

2. How much space do you need? Programming/Schematic Design: Early in the design process it is critical to determine everything you will need and how much sq. footage will be required for each item. We’ve all witnessed a chef’s office space being allocated to a closet because it was not properly planned for.  A large open space is very deceiving but your architect/designer will be able to show you multiple layout options to make sure it all fits prior to signing a lease. In addition to 2D drawings, designers now have the capability to show you 3D views and even video walkthroughs making it very easy to understand a whole space. There are many code restrictions to be aware of that your designer will bring to your attention which could greatly affect the layout of your space such as the size and number of bathrooms needed per your occupancy, the distance between tables for ADA clearances, required corridor widths and the placement of egress doors etc…

3. Use Specialists:  Usually it is necessary to bring in outside consultants for the best project results.  Consultants across the industry have experience that can save you time and money later.  They can help you avoid purchasing tables, for example, that don’t meet ADA standards.  They can also get wholesale discounts and rebates.  To ensure for the most successful outcome you want an architect/designer who will use their strong network of contacts in the industry to bring together the right team of financial planners, food service consultants, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, lighting consultants, kitchen equipment vendors, graphic/signage/menu designers, AV/music providers and PR/marketing executives, Green (LEED) specialist, etc…

4. Understand the regulatory boards and permits: Opening a restaurant is no easy task especially when there are so many different regulatory boards to deal with including the building department, health inspector, fire inspector, liquor license board, historical society, neighborhood boards, signage permits, ADA etc… Finding a designer who already has relationships with the powers that be and the process of dealing with them will save you endless time and aggravation.

5. Budgeting/Purchasing: Your design team will create a Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment Budget commonly referred to as (FF&E). This is often a cost many restaurant owners greatly underestimate which usually gets them into trouble or without a budget for appropriate artwork at the end of the project. Bringing in a designer early in the process will ensure that you have properly allocated funds for these items.

Are you planning a new restaurant?  Feel free to call (857.205.3177) for an initial consultation.

This article was written by Nichole Carroll, President of Carroll Design, an interior design firm that specializes in restaurants and interior design.

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