Thursday, April 19, 2012

Restaurant Space Planning

Restaurateurs rely today on restaurant/food-service designers and consultants, architects and interior designers to help draw customers to their restaurant. Restaurant space planning is one of the important factors in creating a thriving restaurant. The food-service designer/consultant helps the restaurateur capture their vision in the proper planning of the space.

Proper, expert food-service space planning, will help the success of a new restaurant.

Development of a strong idea, or concept is a major part of creating that successful restaurant. First, conceived by the restaurateur, then developed further with the food-service design team. The concept must encompass every facet of the operation with the objective of creating as much of an efficient space as possible along with a clear, consistent idea to the public.

As the concept evolves, the team makes decisions, regarding the menu, the service, the prices and mood of the establishment. The role of the food-service designer is to begin the process with a concept layout, then bring in a team with architect and interior designers if necessary, and an equipment company for a comprehensive development of the restaurant concept.  The food-service designer often manages all aspects of the process to progress on schedule.

The restaurant space plan needs to balance diner comfort and experience with operational efficiency, whether it's a newly constructed freestanding building or an existing tenant space. This is the role and focus of the restaurant/food-service designer. The architect knows structure and city code. The interior designer knows branding, and how to give the environment personality, but their expertise usually is not menu development, or food-service operations and efficiency. The food-service restaurant/designer will enlist the architect and interior designer, or the architect (in new construction) would enlist the food-service designer for the space planning of the business.

How does the food-service designer determine equipment needs, kitchen space or dining room, storage and service area space? The restaurateur's concept, income requirements, budget and size of the space will all determine this. In addition, the designer will carefully plan the traffic patterns for kitchen and wait staff, as well as for the diner.

How does the food-service designer determine the flow and space requirements for electrical and mechanical equipment? These design decisions are crucial and will highly affect the start-up costs if not taken into consideration. The food-service designer addresses and includes these in plumbing and electrical drawings. They understand the space required for water heaters, transformers, electrical panels and HVAC units, and meticulously place these items in areas that will not interfere with functional efficiency.

Opening a new restaurant can be difficult yet exciting. The way in which the space is designed can help or hinder the success of the restaurateur. The challenge is to open on time with a complete, well-designed and constructed project that meets the owner's vision and budget goals. This will give the restaurateur a step up as they establish their restaurant within their budget in a very competitive market.

Frank, Food-service Consultant / Designer, Author of  How to Open a Restaurant: Due Diligence
Book - How to Open a Restaurant

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