Restaurant Development & Design

NOV-DEC 2018

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

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N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 • 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 • 2 9 have to start with menu and spend a lot of time observing the restaurant's operations and trafc patterns. Talk to the people doing the work and ask a lot of questions. Make sure you understand not only what is being served but how much. Understand the product mix. Study the product mix by daypart very carefully. There is no way in the world to do a good job at this by sitting at your desk. You can't redesign a really good kitchen without observing the existing one. Get others to help. Most equipment manufacturers have good reps and R&D people who can review existing equip- ment and practices and offer ideas. Observe the menu execution at older locations as well — not just new ones. This might be the most important guideline to follow. Problems at newer locations are the result of The Creep. Often, people don't remember how it was — and possibly still is — being done at an older location. Just about every concept began in a simpler way and evolved. Acquiring this institutional knowledge can build a strong argument in favor of doing things simply. It can also provide valuable intel about why some change was needed. Do not work on kitchen design without considering the rest of the building. I know this may sound obvi- ous, but I have seen kitchen design be- ing done completely outside the context of the overall building or space. It's easy to say "I need this" and "I need that" when there are no repercussions to deal with. Understand the business model and costs for the entire investment. The biggest single mistake I see many de- signers make is not understanding the big picture. The investment cost for the entire unit has to work for the model. Give and take on the entire project is needed to make this happen. Get some hands-on experience by doing it yourself. I know a lot of restaurant executives who rarely, if ever, work in the restaurants they lead. What a huge missed opportunity. If you don't like working at a restaurant, then chances are, you're not so good at designing them, marketing them or selling to them. A few years ago, I was working for a, let's just say, "very aggressive founder." One day, while looking at a design I had done, he said, "Have you ever run the expo line at one of our restaurants, Sparky?" When I said no, I hadn't, the conversation was over. I went to one of the restaurants that afternoon, started learning and remembered exactly why I have been in the restaurant business my entire career. I love it. Once you have done all the up- front work of observation and research, you can share your list of must-haves and want-to-haves. The things you didn't put in — the items "missing" from The Creep — can now be discussed in a way that forces a productive conversation. When in doubt, arguments that favor the guests rst can usually get everyone on the same page. + When reviewing a concept like Tijuana Flats, Simpson suggests spending time observing the restaurant's opera- tions and traf•c patterns.

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