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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4 6 • 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 CONSTRUCTION CONTROL: rant client. If it's too high, he will come back with some value engineering, such as cheaper tile or less expensive nishes. Three-quarters of the time, though, customers provide him with a total amount to budget, and he works around it. It's also important to have discus- sions with the landlord before breaking ground, Spiegelglass says, because there may be things the property owner will pay for, share the cost of or roll into the rent to help tenants pay it off incremen- tally. Often, these kinds of things add value to a building in the form of a patio or a new roof. Project planning plays a crucial role in staying on budget, says Matt Vetter, vice president of Schafer Construction, a general contractor in Brighton, Mich., and that leads to fewer headaches. When mapping out a project, he details mile- stones by the month, week and day. He never skimps on the time he spends on this; it typically takes around 90 days to plan for a ground-up construction project and 30 to 45 days for a conversion. "It's time well spent," he says. But before he even gets into the planning, Vetter has a sit-down meeting "to make sure we're the right t for the client and vice versa. If you're not get- ting along at this stage, you're going to butt heads through the whole construc- tion project," he says. Next, Vetter digs deep into the client's vision. What's the concept they want to produce? What type of restaurant do they want: freestanding or in a mall? "We get to the nuts and bolts of what the client wants to see," he says. "Once we can weed that information out, we can start playing with budgetary numbers and design." Ideally, Vetter says, clients come to him before they've even selected a site. This allows him to help with due diligence on site selection, too, since the ground the restaurant's built on can have a huge impact on the site's costs. FIVE CHALLENGES OF BUILDING A RESTAURANT Dairy Queen has built restaurants for decades, but the Bloomington, Minn.-based quick-serve chain still hits pitfalls in the construc- tion process. These pitfalls, though, mostly come down to uncontrollable factors, says Steve Karsky, director of construction. Examples include the weather and the ground at a jobsite. But for the most part, Dairy Queen carefully manages the construction of its restaurants. Karsky directs it all with help from a project coordinator, a construction manager and three construction consultants. The latter are each assigned to a project and are available 24-7 to the contractor. Before a project starts, the construction manager solicits three to ve approved general contractors to bid the project, then qualies and negotiates those bids and makes a recom- mendation to the franchisee, though the franchisee makes the nal decision on contractor se- lection. The team also helps with the permitting process. It's important from day one, Karsky says, to have "tight communication; if you do, you'll pretty much solve any problems." Plus, Karsky and his team stay involved, making three inspection trips to a ground-up project. "We really take the franchisee by the hand and walk them through the process because many of them haven't built commercially before," Karsky explains. Dairy Queen builds 85 percent of its new restaurants from the ground up, and the team spends about four weeks in the planning process because, says he, it "will make or break a project." Construction typically takes three to four months. For conversion projects, the planning takes six to eight weeks and construction two to three months because the basic infrastructure tends to already be in place. To minimize any shocks, Dairy Queen runs feasibility studies on new sites and conver- sions so it can approve the sites before breaking ground. But even then, Karsky says, "there are still surprises." It's often the utilities that cause headaches. Utility companies are becoming harder to deal with, Karsky says, even in smaller metropolitan areas. Most of them are getting bigger, so they become more bureaucratic, and there's often a delay getting people out to the jobsite. "You have to start everything early," he explains, because a small delay will create a ripple effect on everything and everyone involved. Dairy Queen: Construction Via Teamwork That contingency plan is vital. "You'll often use that, but you don't want to go over it," says Joe Giordano, senior director, franchise and company development at Denny's, Spartanburg, S.C. "Every project is going to have some sort of surprise. So every project tends to use that reserve money, and that's built into your loan." Construction projects that don't start with a realistic budget will run into trouble, Giordano says. "You need to have your budget be realistic. Break down every single part of the project, and get realistic quotes and budget estimates from contractors and subcontractors." Once Spiegelglass develops the budget, he discusses it with his restau- Image courtesy of Dairy Queen

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