Restaurant Construction: 8 Things to Know Before You Begin

Jamie Jacobs
Jamie Jacobs joined APX Construction Group in June of 2020 specializing in interior design, marketing, event planning, and business development.
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  • So many people dream of opening their own business until they face the reality of the financial investment, the logistical delays, people backing out of helping, needing a ton of equipment, and, well… you get the point.

    Roughly 30% of new restaurants are found to fail within their first year of opening. And while this number is pretty good compared to other small businesses, you still don’t want to see your restaurant fall in that statistic.

    One way to set your business up for success is to be fully prepared before construction even begins. Consider these 8 tips before undertaking a restaurant construction project.

    1) The Contractor You Choose Makes All the Difference

    To avoid becoming a part of the 30% of restaurants that don’t see it past year one, you need to work with the best possible restaurant construction team around. In this case, working with the cheapest contractor is rarely a good idea. You get what you pay for, you want high-quality design-build services that set your restaurant up for success.

    Prioritize working with a general contractor that specializes in commercial construction. They will know the specific details that will make your building successful more than someone who mainly works in the residential space.

    restaurant construction

    You’ll also want to partner with a restaurant architect who will collaborate with the contractor to bring your restaurant construction project to life.

    Finding a top-quality, highly-rated construction company and architect will ensure you’re always kept in the loop about your budget, timeline, and design choices.

    2) Location, Location, Location

    Location can be one of the most difficult details to solidify before restaurant construction begins. You want to find a spot that’s in an easily-accessible, well-trafficked area. But you also don’t want to pay a sky-high amount of rent that comes with the territory in these areas.

    Try your best to find a happy medium with the location while keeping your restaurant’s target audience in mind. Some concepts will work better in a more secluded neighborhood, while other restaurants thrive in dense urban areas near office parks.

    Extensively research the locations you’re most interested in. Ask yourself these questions:

    • Is it accessible?
    • Does this accommodate more car or foot traffic?
    • What other types of restaurants are in the area?
    • Is there a need for my business in this area?
    • How easily could you reach customers in this area?

    3) Consider Remodeling vs Building New

    If you want to start a restaurant in a highly-populated urban area, it might be incredibly expensive to build a new restaurant from the ground up. Plus, depending on how dense your city is, there might not even be much room.

    Remain open-minded and consider renovating an older building instead of building a brand new space. And remember, if you go this route, choosing an excellent commercial remodeling team is still of utmost importance.

    restaurant construction blueprint on a ladder

    4) Building Codes Aren’t Optional

    Plan to fully follow all building codes for your county. Skirting building codes can leave you with hefty legal fines, and worse, leave your patrons and employees in danger.

    There are a few necessary codes you’ll need to follow:

    • Egress Codes: These outline how many ways of exiting a building must have for people inside to use in case of a fire. This number will depend on each room’s square footage.
    • Accessibility Codes: These are the requirements you must fulfill to be wheelchair compliant. These involve including ramps adjacent to stairs, making hallways a certain width, and ensuring flooring doesn’t impede wheelchair use.
    • Fire Codes: Fire codes ensure your business is equipped with safety measures in case of a fire. This can include fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms, and smoke detectors.

    If you work with a reputable commercial contractor, they will ensure your restaurant meets all required building codes and that you have all the necessary licenses and permits.

    5) Prioritize a Functional Layout

    There are quite literally a lot of cooks in the kitchen in any restaurant. When you’re taking on new restaurant construction, you want to make sure you design your space to be functional and accessible for employees and guests alike.

    The last thing you want is to be a couple of months past opening and realize how crowded and nonfunctional your kitchen is. Be sure your kitchen equipment vendor and architect work closely together to coordinate the layout of all your equipment.

    6) Set a Realistic Budget

    Many remodeling projects cost more than people think they will. It’s wise to communicate openly with your construction company to get a clear expectation of how much your project will cost.

    In order to keep yourself from going over budget, you may have to pivot directions or swap out nice-to-haves with something more affordable. This is another area where working with a respected restaurant construction team will be invaluable. Experts in the industry will be able to point you in the right direction so you aren’t overwhelmed.

    7) Choose a Design That Matches Your Menu

    Glass of wine at dining table

    The ultimate goal is to create a space that transports your guests into a completely different environment from what’s outside your doors. Be sure you design your interior to match your menu and your restaurant type (fast-casual, fine-dining, etc.).

    Serving homestyle Southern food in a space that’s decorated like a beach will be clunky and confusing. Try to keep your layout simple so that your customers know exactly where to go when they enter your doors, whether that be a host stand or a service counter.

    8) Build During the Slow Season

    Most restaurants experience a slow season where they typically have lower attendance and sales. Determine what the slow season is for your region or city, then plan construction during this time period if possible so that you don’t lose out on the business from your high-volume season.

    A Restaurant Construction Team You Can Trust

    All 8 of these considerations are vital before you break ground on a new restaurant build. Most of these details can be handled by a reputable, experienced commercial contractor, so prioritize working with a great team before anything else.

    At APX Construction Group, we specialize in commercial construction, and we have the design-build and construction management services you need to have a successful experience.

    Contact us today to tell us about your restaurant, and we’ll be happy to help!

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