Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2019

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

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2 4 • 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 • J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9 Consultant's Take BY EDDIE NAVARRETTE CEO of FE Design & Consulting Los Angeles Four Tips for First- Time Restaurateurs I n my nearly 20 years of designing kitchens and consulting, I see some very consistent mistakes during the planning stages of a new restau- rant. When owners are eager to put their dreams in action, they often push the smaller things to the side. It's impera- tive, however, to complete the due dili- gence. But what type of due diligence is necessary, exactly? Here are my top four things that „rst-time restaurateurs really need to look at before even thinking about starting the design process. Really check out the infrastructure. I mean, really check. The „rst thing I look at when scoping out a location is the potential hood and exhaust system. Where is the exhaust going to go? This is especially important to „gure out when dealing with apartment and high- rise buildings. Is there a way to vent the space so the ductwork doesn't have to go all the way up to the roof? Downtown Los Angeles features many older build- ings, so this is the „rst thing we have to „gure out. The standards for grease mitigation are also very restrictive here. Is the grease receptor going to be un- derground rather than on the rooftop as required by a government agency? How big is it? Who is going to pay for that? Grease traps represent a much cheaper and easier solution, but I don't always recommend them because they require a lot of maintenance. After dealing with the exhaust and grease situation, it's important to vet the structure properly for ceiling height, bathroom distance and acces- sibility for those with disabilities. In terms of ceilings, the height will have a direct impact on the kitchen's hoods and what kind of equipment will be permissible. For handicap accessibil- ity and making sure your restaurant is welcoming to every community, consult city standards for parking and bathroom size. One factor commonly overlooked is restroom accessibility and distance from the dining area. The landlord may say bathrooms down the hall or in a close building are ac- ceptable to use, but this advice could oppose health department guidelines on distance between the eating area and the bathrooms. Landlords have an interest in signing tenants and getting them into the space, so they may omit information. New owners must ask as many questions as they can and do all the re- quired research on infrastructure layout and current regulations. Futurize the electrical needs. I see so many restaurateurs not considering how much electrical they need. That need has grown because of all the refrigera- tors, espresso machines, ice machines and more that run on electricity. The problem, at least here in Los Angeles, is some of the existing buildings were built as far back as the 1920s. Even those built in the '80s are archaic — built on a single-phase electrical system. There's only so much you can add on to those systems because they max out at a pretty low level. Today, we have three-phase power, which is what most new pieces of equipment run on, although some adapters allow certain pieces to run off single-phase power. It's important to note that if the entire building requires an upgrade to three- phase power, that process can take six months — even as long as nine months. The timeline only gets more ex- treme if the building sits far away from the electrical source. I had experiences where clients were faced with having to upgrade the entire block and had to run power underground through someone else's property.

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