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 • 6 7 mixed-use developments as well as individual restaurants within them. It recently completed work on Houston's Memorial Green, where Jonathan's The Rub, a comfortably upscale New American eatery by chef-owner Jona- than Levine, anchors one of two of ce/ retail towers. This was a case where the building was constructed prior to its main restaurant tenant being selected, posing design and construction chal- lenges for the Jonathan's team, ac- cording to Stephanie Wherry, technical designer on the project. "The kitchen is one of the biggest issues because it has so many require- ments; there's so much that needs to run into and out of it," Wherry says. "Depending where it's located within the site, where the restaurant is within the building and where the shafts to the roof are, it can be dif cult to gure out how to route that out without disrupt- ing other tenants and/or compromising interior design. For Jonathan's, we had a shaft, but its placement and our timing were bigger issues. A salon next door was already far along in construc- tion before we began, and access to the shaft was on their side of the wall instead of on the restaurant's side. We had to contend with trying to go inside a space that wasn't ours, a space that was already constructed, to do what we needed to do." When considering spaces in mixed- use developments, start by determining if the community's demographics are right and whether a particular space has suf cient capacity to meet revenue goals, Wherry says. With those boxes checked, the biggest question to ask is, "How am I going to get the kitchen, HVAC and mechanicals I need in here to make my concept work?" Chavez agrees, noting that many times, retail landlords put in systems that fall well short of what restaurants with full kitchens need. "Yes, they're designed for restaurant tenants but often more for simple cafe or sandwich opera- tions that might have 10-foot hoods," he explains. "Our cookline is 38 feet long and generates a lot of exhaust. Add in air conditioning and makeup air, and it's a big load to manage for air qual- ity. In some cases, we've had to install special air-cleaning systems and/or route exhaust down to a garage or up several stories to a rooftop." That's not just an extra develop- ment cost, Chavez notes; it's also an ongoing maintenance challenge. "In mixed-use situations, having the right service company is critical," he says. "Access can be dif cult, and you need to be sure to use technicians who are knowledgeable and experienced in these settings. If not done correctly, or if they can't get proper access, you risk grease res and/or smoke and odors in the restaurant, which is both unsafe and a big turnoff for residents, work- ers, shoppers and others utilizing the development." Understand Operational Implications More mundane but important con- siderations for potential restaurant tenants in mixed-use developments include the proximity of receiving areas and dumpsters. "True Food's menu is all fresh. We're constantly getting deliveries, par- ticularly of fresh fruits and vegetables," Chavez says. "In a mixed-use develop- ment, our employees typically have to travel farther to receive orders and take the trash out. It's different than just having a dock and dumpster right behind the building, so we have to plan for and manage that in terms of labor as well as safety and security." While walkability is a major draw of mixed-use environments, car parking still matters. Adam Schwegman, partner and senior vice president of retail leas- ing at North American Properties, which develops hospitality-driven mixed-use communities, says prospective restau- rant tenants often overlook parking. "You may have residential den- sity above you or right nearby, and more customers seem to be arriving via ride-sharing services, but you still need to think about where parking is and what route customers will take to get from their cars to the restaurant," Schwegman says. "Parking is shared and usually a bit farther away. But the šip side is that we nd a lot of groups will decide to head over to a mixed- use development as a destination in its own right and decide where to dine after they park and walk around a bit. So now the restaurant is part of this larger place that's walkable and offers a variety of retail, entertainment and dining options." North American Properties typi- cally dedicates at least 25 percent of its retail space to restaurants, which play a critical role in creating the desired vibe and catering to key customer groups, according to Schwegman. While restau- rants represented by brokers familiar with local markets and new development plans often reach out, North American proactively seeks concepts that its team feels are "the best, the brightest and that bring something unique to the project," he notes. If it's a concept that hasn't previously opened in mixed-use devel- opments, Schwegman rst suggests they nd a good contractor and/or architectural engineer with experi- True Food Kitchen opened a 7,100-square-foot unit at Ballston Quarter in Arlington, Va., in May. Replacing an outdated mall, the new mixed-use site includes residential and of‚ce towers, a public plaza, restaurants and boutique retailers — even a food hall and ice arena.

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