Deep Dive: Big Questions to Ask Before You Consider a Restaurant Renovation Project

Do you feel like your restaurant interior is starting to stagnate? It just might be time to renovate! Studies show that, in order to stay relevant, a restaurant should freshen up its look every 5-7 years. Here are a few things to consider before freshening up your restaurant interior design.

Renovation can be simple like painting the walls and printing fresh new menus or it can involve a larger scope like changing the footprint of the space to offer more seating and increase staff productivity. Whatever your renovation needs, this project requires ample forethought and planning to ensure minimal customer impact and an elevated return on your investment.

Restaurant Interior Design Project

QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE GETTING STARTED

Before you dig in and embark on a large renovation project, you need to take several things into consideration to make this a positive experience for yourself, your staff, and your customers. Seek out honest answers to these questions:

  • Can I afford to be closed for an amount of time? If so, what is a target timeframe?
  • If I am closing for a time, when is the best time of year to close?
  • How can I minimize impact on my staff if we close for a short time?
  • How can I cater to my loyal customers and still freshen things up to invite new?
  • Is there enough parking to handle increased patronage?
  • Does the exterior (building, walkways, landscape, etc) need to be refreshed as well?

Asking yourself these questions will likely spur further questions and conversation which is beneficial to ensure everyone is prepared for this transition.

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR STAFF

As you are aware, your loyal staff members are priceless. Minimizing the impact on them by involving them in the process as much as possible from planning to execution. Knowing they are understood and that their needs are important goes a long way toward future loyalty.

Poll them with questions like:

  • How can we increase kitchen efficiency?
  • Does waitstaff need any changes in space?
  • What services or items do waitstaff often hear customers request?

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE DESIGN TEAM

Once you have decided to move forward, finding the right design team that will work with you and for you, keeping your overall goals and ROI at the forefront of the project is vital for a successful renovation.

Start by being completely open and forthright with them at your initial meeting. This one task will set the tone for the entire project.

Questions they will be expecting are:

  • Is the budget feasible?
  • Can you stay open during remodel OR How long will we be closed?
  • Is there money added in for contingencies?
  • How will this increase revenue?
  • How will this better the customer experience?
  • What if the remodel gets off track?
  • What works, what can you keep?

Also, in the design process you will want to consider a few additional conditions of your space:

  • Is there enough seating currently?
  • Is my current location up to code and ADA compliant? A substantial remodel can trigger the need to address current code conditions, if not compliant and potentially increase the overall construction budget.
  • Do we provide enough bathrooms and again, are they up to code?
  • Is there enough waiting space?
  • Are there often lines at the register?
  • How efficient is the kitchen and service areas?
  • Are we maximizing the ability to accommodate private parties or functions and potentially increase revenue?
  • Do we have the ability to add a bar for revenue as well as a place for customers to wait?

Asking these questions is a great way to vet out a design team for your renovation. They should be able to answer any questions you have and help put your mind at ease along with offering solutions to issues you aren’t sure about.

FINAL THINGS TO CONSIDER

Before pulling the trigger on this restaurant interior design project, there are a few final things to consider as you head into the renovation. Have you polled your customers? Let’s face it, if your customers don’t come back after the renovation, then it will be a complete waste of time and money. Get their input on how you can improve, helping them also feel a part of the process. Also, read any recent reviews of your location on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. Reviews are often blatantly honest and give you an insight into what your customers do and don’t love about your place. Finally, remember your loyal customers. They are going to want minimal change to the location because they already love you! Consider how you can put them at ease. For instance, you could offer loyal customers a special, invitation-only pre-opening dinner where they can preview the new space before the general public.

Customer impact, staff awareness, lost revenue, these are all heavy things to consider when starting a restaurant renovation project. At IGroup Design, we love talking with potential clients and helping them flesh out any and all issues that could potentially derail a project, keeping an eagle eye on an overall return on your investment.