Restaurant Development & Design

MAY-JUN 2018

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 8 • 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 • M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 8 Consultant's Take as absolute. Once you actually place the order, then you'll get the real lead time. It could be several days or even weeks later than what you'd been expecting. Other times, restaurant operators assume that if a product is available to- day, it will be available tomorrow. That isn't always the case. I've had clients confirm with the manufacturer that a particular stone was in stock, then wait weeks to actually place their order. By that time, the stone wasn't available. The client then had to choose between buying a product that they didn't actu- ally want or delaying construction. Unless there's some in-house expertise, I'd recommend owners avoid these problems by handing ordering off to another party. That can be the general contractor, who will take on this work for a small fee, or an owner's representative. These companies have experience with the entire construction process and can help operators get the product they want when they need it. Keep Your Operations Team Involved Remember that you're not just building a restaurant for customers. You're also building it for the people who work there. You want a facility that makes it easy for your employees to do their jobs. To get an employee-friendly design, many owners seek feedback from their operations team during the design process and at the beginning of construction. While that's good, it's only a start. Owners should also have their opera- tions team visit a site in in the middle of construction. This will give them the chance to understand how the facility will work in the real world, not just on paper. Once operations teams are in an actual building and see how and where people will actually do their jobs, they'll more than likely find problems with the design or at least ways to improve the flow of work. While fixing a problem during con- struction will increase your build costs, you could easily pay double to solve the same problem once construction is com- plete. At that point, the problem may just be too expensive to fix, leaving you with a facility that doesn't run smoothly. This can slow down service, costing you customers and money. It could even drive away employees who get frustrated with working in a poorly designed space. Train Off-Site After a facility is completed, many new restaurants will bring their employees in for a week or two of training. Dur- ing that time, money is going out for utilities and salary but not coming in. Factor in the possibility that the building inspector could demand changes before issuing a certificate of occupancy, and a restaurant could be ready to go for a full month but not generating any money. While you can't control the build- ing inspector, you can control training. I'd recommend owners try to train their employees off-site, just before con- struction is scheduled to be completed. That way, you can have your restaurant earning money as soon as the building is ready to go. There are several ways you can do this. If you're part of a chain, training can take place at another restaurant, maybe during off hours. If that's not possible, look into renting a space for a month and setting up a temporary kitchen. There are plenty of spaces in malls, strip malls, of- fice parks and even warehouses that have the utility hookups you'll need to set up a temporary kitchen. Getting the equipment for one of these kitchens could be a challenge. Chains could consider investing in a spare kitchen package that could be moved from site to site as needed. Smaller operations could talk to their manufacturers' reps about training possibilities. While it may be hard to arrange, if you can pull it off, your restaurant will start paying for itself as soon as possible. Set a Deadline for Design Changes If there's one thing I've learned in my many years in construction, it's that no set of drawings is perfect. There will always — and I mean always — be changes. That being said, owners need to set a firm deadline for changes to the design and make sure the team sticks to it. Tell your architect and engineers that all drawings must be final by the deadline — no matter what. Not having this deadline can lead to all sorts of problems. In construc- tion, a single change can impact many other areas. The later these changes are made, the more might have to be done (or undone) to implement them. This can add to the project's final cost and push back the construction schedule. In the end, it's easier to just avoid these problems by being clear to your team about what is expected of them and when it's expected. These aren't the only things to look out for in order to ensure a suc- cessful project. You've got to get good, thorough feedback at site visits; stay in touch with your GC and more. But by following this advice, operators can set themselves up for a smooth construc- tion period with as few surprises as pos- sible followed by a timely and prosper- ous opening. +

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