Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 2017

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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6 0 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 7 How To The first step is engaging a designer and architect and maybe an engineer, which you should do about six months before you plan to have work start because you could be meeting with them for several months, explains the director of operations for Englewood Construction, Lemont, Ill. Then, the architects might take six to eight weeks to create their work. Next comes submitting for permits (which usually happens at the same time as the contractors are bidding), and that can take two to six weeks. If you don't start this part of the pro- cess early enough, you might rush the people you hire, "and that's when things get missed," Taylor says. Ideally, a restaurant starts its bidding process for a contractor in No- vember or December "because there's a lull in the construction side and they're starting to plan their work for the com- ing year." If you wait until the spring, prices can escalate 10 to 20 percent, he says, "so get the contractors when they are quiet." And if you do end up pushing your work to the spring, try to lock in the "winter prices" with your contractor. Once you've approached contractors — typically three or four — it tends to take two to three weeks to receive bids. Once you've chosen a contrac- tor, materials, equipment, and even fixtures need to be ordered and delivery dates must be set so the timing goes as planned. However, even the most careful planning can't account for unforeseen challenges. "But it's always a good idea for contractors and restaurateurs to build in a what-if factor," Taylor recommends. Do Pre-Closing Work Saladworks is a fast-casual chain of 95 stores. Business booms during the warmer months. The chain is doing full renovations of 17 stores this year, with one already completed (in Southamp- ton, Pa.) and two finished in 2016. For these, the company determines the quietest month for each store's business and starts early since finding the right architect and designer can take 90 to 120 days, says CEO Patrick Sugrue. Once he has the design, he plans the remodel at least four months out. Those four months are needed for permitting, ordering materials and scheduling service providers, he says. The current remodel requires stores be closed for 7 to 14 days, which is a challenge for Saladworks, which sees its most loyal customers up to 17 times a month. "If you're going to be closed for two weeks, you're giving them eight or so opportunities to go and try somewhere else," Sugrue says. "And your team members have time to find another job." To protect against losses, the con- cept invested in a Saladworks branded food truck, which it puts outside renovat- ing stores. This allows it to capture about 50 percent of its usual sales and keep some employees working. "It's also like a billboard to let people know there's something going on," Sugrue says. Before any remodel takes place, Sugrue has franchisees do a countdown to closing and reopening. He makes sure the franchisee can get the food truck, makes sure they know where the nearest Saladworks is to refer custom- ers to if they can't get the truck, and ensures they have a tight plan so they know the dates of everything, because The remodeled Aria restaurant in Atlanta. Photos by LuAnne DeMeo

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