Article :: "Design for Profit" by Frank Stocco
Opening your own restaurant is as exciting as it is challenging,
from the conceptual stages to the first drink and meal served. What you achieve
in the conceptual stages of your restaurant will certainly have a major impact
be it good or bad. “Due diligence” is the operative phrase. Taking the proper
steps can insure success and prevent entrepreneurial suicide. Think about all
the tasks to be accomplished before the first meal is served.
Here’s the concise
list of steps to opening a restaurant:
- Site selection
- Space negotiations
- Facility design
- Menu design
- Logo design and marketing
- Equipment purchasing
- Opening day
Each one of these categories has its own specific list of tasks.
You must commit to due diligence. To say any one aspect is less important than
another is a grave mistake.
A great design is more than just the big-wow-factor when you first
walk into a restaurant. A great design team will insure that four of the five
sensory experiences (seeing, tasting, touching, hearing and smelling) are achieved
with excellence. This along with the sense of tasting, provided by the staff,
is what will create the total dining experience for the guest. People go to
restaurants today to be seen, heard, entertained, eat and drink. One aspect
is as important as the other. This sensory design style can be achieved with
the smallest of venues, be it a coffee shop, a school cafeteria or a high end
restaurant. Great design is vital to the success of every food service establishment.
There are several types of designers that may be involved in a food service project,
including the architect, food service consultant / designer, graphic designer and interior designer. There may be additional designers required: audio/visual,
lighting and mechanical designers to name a few. Most of the designers will
fall under the umbrella of the architect. The key component for the designers
is the ability to interpret the vision of the owner/operator. With that being
said, the owner must have a clear foundational understanding of their concept
How do you start a restaurant? Take the proper steps:
1. Understand your concept and vision. Document it in detail. If you do not know what you are trying to achieve, your
design team will not know. In the beginning stages there are two design firms
to bring on board. The first being an architectural firm and the second a food service
consulting/design firm. I highly recommend these firms are hired independently.
This eliminates a conflict of interest.
2. Begin by interviewing several architectural firms. The architectural
firm you hire must have restaurant design experience. There are so many food service
code issues to deal with that an inexperienced architect will create a nightmarish
scenario for your food service designer and all the tradesmen. The architect that you hire will assemble or assist you in assembling the remainder of the
design team other than the food service consultant. Whether you are building
from the ground up or occupying an existing space, an architect is vital and
typically required by the municipality. The architect will design and allocate
space according to your concept and vision. Be ready to be part of the design
process. Communicate to the architect the necessity to achieve all the sensory
experiences previously mentioned. Always be active in every part of the process.
It is not unusual to review several drawings. Continue the drawing process until
your vision has been realized.
3. Interview and hire a food service consulting/design firm which takes the architectural space and makes it functional with a great layout.
The food service designer will be involved with the entire space, including the
bar, kitchen, the side stations, seating and even restrooms. The food service
designer then will specify each piece of equipment according to the food served,
create mechanical plans for the architect and contractors, design construction
installation elevations for the equipment installers, produce bid documents
that will ensure competitive pricing, complete a quality assurance punch list
and participate in fully developing your concept and vision. Hiring a food service
designer is absolutely imperative. With the exceedingly high cost of real-estate
and labor, improper utilization of space can cost you success.
Why hire an independent food service consultant/designer? Because if they have integrity their sole function is consultation and design, as opposed to those also selling equipment which can create a conflict of interest. A great designed facility will use every square foot of space strategically and efficiently. You want a professionally laid out space to accommodate a good lean crew not a track team running your restaurant. The whole sensory experience is affected by the quality of the design. Customer and employee friendly environments are achievable goals. Let the food service designer have an understanding of your budget and they will draw and specify equipment accordingly. You then can decide with whom to make your equipment and furnishing purchase through a competitive bidding process.
The combination of a great architect and food service consultant/designer will ensure that you will achieve the big-wow-factor in a very efficient space based on seeing, feeling, touching and hearing. And with the excellent professional staff that you assemble for the sense of taste, you will have created an unbelievable culinary experience.