Every successful restaurant must have three things. Great food. Great service. Great ambiance. When all three come together, you increase the chances of filling all those empty chairs at every meal. There’s more to running a restaurant than knowing how (or what) to cook.
Good design makes your kitchen and front of house operate more efficiently and profitable while providing your customers the ultimate dining experience. A good dining room layout will seamlessly accommodate flexible seating, efficient and discreet wait stations, and storage out of sight of the dining patrons. Here are some things to consider when looking for a new location.
Have a business plan.
A good business plan will help you avoid making random decisions that will lead to costly mistakes. The plan should identify both you target audience and your competitors and outline your strategy for bringing your products and services to market. A well written plan is invaluable in seeking financing for your business because it shows lenders (or investors) that you have considered startup costs, projected sales, and an advertising budget. It also helps you stay on course towards reaching the goals and objectives of your business.
Keep the initial lease term short, but make sure you have the ability to re-new the lease. You are spending a lot of money on equipment and tenant improvements, and you don’t want to have to move when the lease runs out.
Check the hours of operation as they may be restricted by zoning or deed restrictions If you choose to serve alcohol, is a liquor license available?
Consider negotiating these common concessions often found in a restaurant lease:
Evaluate the Existing Space
How many seats do I need to fit in order to make the numbers projected in your business plan? How many seats can this space accommodate? Is there proper emergency egress? Is there enough room for the kitchen I need to prepare the food on my menu? Is outdoor seating allowed without affecting the required number of parking spots and toilets.?
The dining room may be the heart of the restaurant, but without a well-designed kitchen to prepare the food, there’s no sense in opening your doors. To know exactly what equipment to purchase you need to decide on a menu. If the existing space was a Chinese restaurant or bagel store, you probably don’t have the right equipment to open a pub. Have an experienced kitchen equipment supplier evaluate the existing kitchen layout and consider buying re-conditioned equipment. Ventilation for smoke, grease, and odors is essential for a restaurant. Check to make sure there is room and proper clearance for your kitchen exhaust. Will the existing utilities work for your new layout? What type of POS system will you install? Is there a place for my dumpster and grease bucket(s)?
The number of toilet rooms required by law is based on the number of seats and the square footage of the restaurant. Toilet rooms, like the entrance and the rest of your restaurant, must be ADA accessible. Grab bars alone don’t guarantee a toilet room is accessible. Fixture clearance are specific to the layout.
Having convenient parking is critical, especially if you are not in an urban setting. Make it easy to park and people will come back a second time. Local zoning requirements for parking at a restaurant may vary from the previous tenant.
Signage, Branding, and Visibility.
Check to see if you need a separate sign approval? Zoning rules will tell you the allowable size and whether there are restrictions on illumination and colors.