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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J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 9 • 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 • 4 9 restaurant? There are some key things to consider because starting a conversion can be like opening Pandora's box. In theory, a conversion project should take one-third or even half the time compared with building a restaurant from the ground up. In reality, though, construction on a conversion project could take a lot longer, says Vetter, be- cause "there are always unknowns, and sometimes it can be massive." To try to minimize these jaw-drop- ping moments, Vetter likes to explore a site in the planning stage — to do some demoing and look under -oors or in ceil- ings. "The key to any construction proj- ect is minimizing risk," he points out. Common problems with conversion projects include mold, rot, infestations, chewed wires, asbestos, leaky windows and dated electrical systems, says Marker, who actually charges a higher contractor fee for conversions because of all the unknowns. Converted locations also require more -exibility on the part of the project teams, says Taylor. "You can save money in second generation, but you'll have to make some compromises, including with your operations," he explains. "Sometimes, you'll †nd more unseens than anticipated with a conver- sion, and there are times — not too often — that it's a lot more extensive than you anticipated and a lot more expensive," Giordano says. "But the good news is that doesn't happen often." It's signi†cantly less expensive to do a conversion — typically 55 percent to 65 percent less, Giordano explains. "That's why franchisees †rst look for a conversion, but every site is speci†c," he says. "If you feel your sales are go- ing to be strong, you can spend more on construction." Conversions can also cost more, says Marker, if they happen in exist- ing restaurants. If the restaurant has to close down, work's often done around the clock to minimize income loss; if the restaurant remains operational, work is usually done at night. In both cases, she says, contractors can cost more. The existing infrastructure is also something that can signi†cantly delay a project in conversions. "Structural issues are typically the largest concern with items such as column placement and roof construction," says Giordano. "Other challenges include utility capacity and placement; odd-shaped buildings, which cause design inef†ciencies; and multi- story buildings." + Denny's often uses local architects to help navigate local codes, like with the locations pictured. Images courtesy of Denny's

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