Restaurant Development & Design

WINTER 2014

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

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Collins' confdence in Moe's ability to hold the line on costs stems from the chain's ambitious growth plans. With 56 new res- taurant projects on the docket for this year, Moe's can command favorable prices due to its ability to buy in bulk, she says. The company already operates more than 500 units in the U.S. and abroad. That kind of volume, Collins says, "enables us to keep [construction] pricing at current levels with no increase or well below market and what others may be experiencing." Tiffany Vassos, director of IT and construction with Blaze Pizza, a California-based chain that offers fast-cooked, custom- ordered pizzas, offers a similar assessment. "A robust economy means more construction, and pressure on pricing will certainly be present," she says. "One of our strategies is to offset costs through growth. We're building 45 new Blaze Pizza restaurants in 2014, and becoming more effcient with each one." Like Collins and Vassos, Chuck Taylor, director of opera- tions at Englewood Construction, doesn't foresee a big jump in materials costs, but offers a cautionary labor outlook. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that as of August 2013, construction employment was still down 25 percent below peak levels in April 2006, including 47 states at more than 10 percent below peak levels. "Labor costs have really fuctuated in recent years, which make them an ongoing concern. After 2009, a lot of subs and GCs scrambled just to stay billable," Taylor says. "We saw in- credibly cheap bids. Many subs had to lay off people during the recession, and many tradespeople got out of the business." Two years later, the situation started to change. "In 2011 Construction labor costs in some markets have soared. When building Williston Brewing Co. in Williston, N.D., where energy-industry construc- tion is booming, Englewood Construction had to bring in sub contractors from out of state and make deals with hotels to house them. Photo courtesy of Englewood Construction

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