People Involved in Opening a Restaurant

January 6, 2010
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Who You Will Run Into & Questions You Should Ask Them

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So you have made the decision to open a restaurant, whether it be a privately owned or franchise restaurant, and you are ready to get the ball rolling in the construction process. Obviously the first step in any business plan is to figure out what kind of budget you have and how much of your money is going to go to each step of the construction. Knowing who to talk to in the beginning and who to keep in contact with throughout the years of your business will most certainly help to determine your future success.

Know the Rules & Regulations

No matter where you decide to build your restaurant, there will be zoning laws that affect the type of businesses that pop up around you and that affect your taxes. Not only do you want to choose a lot that is in a commercial zone, you also want to build your establishment near businesses that will bring more traffic to your area, such as movie theaters and malls. City officials and the zoning department will let you know if you chose an appropriate location, but you will also need to be checked out by the Environmental Protection Agency before starting construction.

- Ask your city utilities department when you need to set up an account. Before the construction of your restaurant is finished you will need to start paying for gas, water, electricity, cable, trash, etc.

Construction is Underway

The first step you need to take is to meet with a consultant and a commercial kitchen designer. Depending on the kind of food you plan to serve and how big your operation will be, these two people can help you to figure how large your kitchen needs to be and what equipment is absolutely necessary. Next you need to find an architect and an engineer. Your architect will draw up the plans for your restaurant and the engineer will let you know if the building is according to code and ready to be put up. Your architect, interior designer and general contractor will work closely to make sure that your ideas come to life as accurately as possible. Your interior designer should have an extensive portfolio and if they know your general contractor or architect from a previous job you know you’re in good hands.

What comes next?

It’s time to start pouring the foundation and putting up the walls. You will have two different carpenters – framers and finish carpenters. The framers are responsible for putting up the body of your restaurant, while the finish carpenters work on all the final details. The only thing these two types of carpenters won’t take care of are the insulation of the building and the roofing. Your electricians and technicians will make sure that all of your wires, electrical outlets, and lighting are done correctly. The interior of your restaurant will slowly come together as your painters, carpet layers, and interior designer add finishing touches. The last thing to take care of before final inspections are done is to have a landscaper take care of the outside décor and to hire a graphic artist to design all of your menus, business cards, gift cards, posters, to-go menus, gift certificates, and flyers.

Once your final inspections are done, you are ready for business!

EXTRA TIPS:

- You must run your plans by the Department of Building and Safety, your County Health Department, and the Fire Marshall.

- Did you know that Mission Restaurant Supply offers commercial kitchen design services?

- Make sure that your interior designer has an extensive portfolio. Most of them have a contract that requires half of the money up front, so if you become unhappy with the job they are doing you could be out a lot of money.

- Research, research, research.

- Selecting glossy paints saves time when cleaning or repainting, and provides a nice glow in your dining room.

- For cleaning purposes, try rugs instead of carpet.

- Try zero scaping outside of your restaurant to cut back on allergens, bugs, and cost of upkeep.

- ALWAYS ask for references.

QUESTIONS TO ASK:

- Interior designer & architect: Have you worked on restaurants before? What is your proposal on how to save money? Do you have a portfolio?

- Food service consultant: What is the absolute necessary equipment? What equipment will make my kitchen run most efficiently? What equipment can I go without or buy later?

- Equipment dealers: Do I have to pay shipping on large orders? What kind of warranties do you offer? What are the most trusted brands and why?

- General contractor: Are all of your licenses up-to-date? Do you have your certificates of insurance? Have you worked on restaurants of this scale before?

- Graphic artist: Do you have a portfolio? Do you have your own software? Do you do web design as well?

MORE RESOURCES:

- A restaurant construction checklist by Mosser Design:

- Pre-opening checklist for foodservice operations by Food Service Resource:

- Business licenses according to state and industry:

8 Responses to People Involved in Opening a Restaurant

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