restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.
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B uilding a new foodservice operation or renovating an existing one takes careful planning and forethought. Steve Starr, president and chief of starrdesign in Charlotte, N.C., offers some thoughts on how design affects customer perception. "People don't pay enough attention to what we call 'choreographing the cus- tomer journey,'" Starr says. He cites consumer behavior data showing that "within three seconds of walking into a restaurant, a customer should understand where they're supposed to go, what they're supposed to do, and what the restaurant is about," he says. Without that intuitive customer journey, a neurological response triggers discomfort in the customer, which leads to decreased spending. "You're going to be much more guarded about your spending. You're probably not going to order an extra side dish or dessert," he says. Parallel to that is staff flow, which must go hand-in-hand with the customer flow. Starr points to an example of a pizza restaurant that placed its wood-fired pizza oven front of house, near the door. While this may have made for a dramatic entrance, as diners queued up for tables they crossed the path of waitstaff pick- ing up pizzas. Additionally, breezes from the door opening and closing affected the oven temperature, leading to product consistency problems. "A lot of people don't think about how the customer and waitstaff experiences are going to act with one another," he says. For more ideas on building your operation from the ground up, check out the stories on the following pages.