Guide to Renovating Your Restaurant

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How to Renovate Your Restaurant

Are you looking to incorporate more trendy designs into your restaurant, or are you going through a rebrand? Regardless of your reasons, a restaurant renovation has many benefits, including attracting customers, increasing your restaurant’s value, and getting an updated look.

Whether you’re looking to refresh your bar or restaurant to evolve with changing consumer demands, you’re facing maintenance issues, or you’ve received feedback from staff and customers, it might be time to consider a renovation. According to The Restaurant Times, studies have shown that restaurants that have completed a renovation tend to see a 10-20% increase in sales. So, how do you determine if it’s the right time to renovate your establishment?

You should start by asking yourself these questions…

  • How long has it been since your last renovation? Typically, restaurants should update their operations every 5 to 7 years. If you have not updated your restaurant recently, it might be time!
  • Is anything in need of a maintenance repair? Don’t wait to update your equipment until it’s about to break. You don’t want to put yourself in a worse situation by waiting too long to replace equipment, which will cost you more in the long run.  
  • Could your restaurant attract more customers if you gave it a facelift? Are you only targeting a specific crowd? A renovation may help you reach a broader market, ultimately increasing your sales!
  • Could a renovation increase the overall efficiency of your operations? A renovation will allow you to update your operations to increase your overall efficiency and one great way to do this is by installing a self-serve beverage wall (more on that later)!

Our guide to renovating your restaurant will help you complete this exciting project. Learn what you need, how to prepare, and why self-pour technology is an excellent addition to your renovation.

1. Do Some Research

As with any big project, research is the first step to ensure the renovation goes as smoothly as possible. Researching gives you an idea of the necessary changes and helps you make informed decisions. Here’s a checklist for renovation research:

  • Visit locations near you: Find and visit the most successful restaurants in your area. Gain real-life stories and inspiration from them. If possible, speak with the owners. Ask them about their renovations, what worked and didn’t, and which contractors they used.
  • Observe your space: Identify opportunities that will boost the customer’s experience. Consider how you can make your space more functional for your servers, too. Determine whether the changes are cosmetic or if you will need to do major renovations. 
  • Gather feedback: Talk with guests and servers about your current operations. Get feedback through comment cards, email marketing, comments on social media, or surveys. It’s a great way to learn how customers feel about your establishment.

2. Find the Right Contractor

It’s vital to find the right contractor during your renovation research process. They’ll help you create ideas and design the layout, and they’ll understand your vision, timeline, and budget. 


Contacting people in your network is a fantastic way to find the right contractor. Industry professionals might have a list of contractors you can reach out to. Choose a contractor that’s received high praise from people you know.

3. Hire a Designer

You can handle decorations yourself, but there are many benefits to hiring a designer. They will help you create your desired look and find decor to make your restaurant stand out. Your designer can also work alongside your contractor to create a seamless and cohesive space.

4. Set Your Budget

As the saying goes, “You need to spend money to make money.” This holds true when you are renovating your bar or restaurant because it is going to be expensive! Unfortunately, there is no way around that. However, being intentional and educated about your budget can mitigate additional expenses. Here, we are going to give you some insight and suggestions to help you develop your renovation budget.

First things first, you need to prepare yourself. Renovations are not typically cheap, nor are they easy. If they are, you might be doing something wrong. So, before you get started, take a deep breath and know that you must be mentally and financially prepared for both the expected and the unexpected.

Tip: Don’t spend more than you can afford. Unexpected hurdles can pop up, cost money, and slow down the process. Your estimated budget should be less than what you can afford.

How Much Does It Cost to Renovate a Restaurant?

Get a rough estimate of what your renovation will cost. Create a flexible budget that covers your expenses, changes, and contingencies. The cost of your renovation depends on a few factors:

  • The extent of your renovation
  • Your restaurant’s size
  • Your timeline
  • Labor and materials costs in your area 
  • License and legal fees
  • Technology and equipment upgrades
  • Interior and exterior furniture and decor
  • Custom finishes, materials, and furnishings
  • Marketing costs
  • Time of year

Run the Numbers

Your contractor and designer can help you understand the renovation’s mechanics and logistics. They have experience working with budgets and have access to resources that can help you along the way. Consult with your contractor and look at a renovation calculator to determine the cost per square foot. Your designer can assist with decor expenses and choosing affordable yet durable materials.

Financing Your Restaurant Remodel

Research various financing options, such as a restaurant refurbishment loan, that can help you pay for your remodel. A restaurant refurbishment loan can help you finance your renovations. Find out if you are eligible for the loan, its terms and conditions, and interest rates.

Tip: If costs become too expensive, consider breaking down the renovation into different parts so you aren’t doing it all at once. For example, update the kitchen at a different time than the dining room.

Be Smart With Your Money

You can make all the changes you want with an unlimited budget. But with limited finances, you must be mindful of the money you spend. Choose cost-effective options where possible while prioritizing quality when necessary.

For example, you can choose affordable wall art and decorative rugs, but you may want to splurge on things like kitchen appliances, durable seating, and tables that will increase the value of your property.

5. Create a Timeline

It’s important to consider the timing of the renovation. On average, bars and restaurants should complete renovation every five years or so. Following this timeline keeps your decor fresh and minimizes fixes and updates. Also, you may want to complete your restaurant remodel during off-peak seasons to limit losing out on business.

Tip: If your company doesn’t have slower months (which is a great problem to have), you still need to find time to update your location. Schedule your renovation during the night or off-hours to prevent turning customers away due to the construction noise and mess.

Here are some more timeline-related tips:

  • Plan from back to front: Decide on an opening date and work from there. Plan your relaunch during peak season to boost revenue during the busiest times of the year. 
  • Predict the duration of the remodel: The time differs per establishment. On average, restaurant remodeling takes four to 12 weeks to complete. 
  • Create a flexible timeline: Estimate more time for renovations than needed in case of delays.
  • Closing your restaurant: Decide whether you will close your business during renovations. You can only make profits if you remain open, but doing so may be a safety concern. 
  • Informing your customers: Let your customers know you are planning to renovate. Giving them notice allows them to make alternative arrangements and look forward to your relaunch.

6. Get Your Permits and Approvals

You must get various permits and approvals to ensure that your renovations follow local regulations and will keep everyone safe.

Restaurant Renovation Inspections and Permits

Get your permits and approvals early when renovating your restaurant. Businesses must follow specific requirements to renovate their establishments legally. The town, city, or state government generally determines the conditions.

Contact your municipality after completing the planning stage and drawing up your designs. Getting the necessary approvals, inspections, and permits can take a few months. Failing to follow requirements could result in significant fines, so it’s best to square everything away early. Check with officials to determine whether your renovation project needs licenses or permits.

Health and Fire Department Approvals

Officials must complete health and fire safety inspections when you renovate your restaurant, especially if you’re changing your kitchen. Since kitchen fires are common in restaurants, inspectors prioritize them so they are up to code.

Many areas need range hoods above gas and electric ovens, stoves, and fryers. Officials also inspect grease trap and wastewater management systems to ensure oil and grease do not enter your plumbing and the public sewer system. Most towns also specify the walls and floors you need to keep your area clean and prevent bacteria.

Local health and fire departments will ensure you have an adequate supply of fire exits and working fire alarms. They will also check to see if your electrical wiring is suitable. Checks typically happen toward the end of your build and could result in costly changes if you don’t get everything right the first time.

Interior and Exterior Building Permits

You’ll also need to get building permits to renovate your restaurant. Following zoning regulations and gaining approvals from your local government ensures your project is legal. Here are some renovation jobs that will likely require a permit: 

  • Improving restrooms
  • Removing walls
  • Extending existing structures
  • Adjusting your plumbing
  • Updating your HVAC system 
  • Installing new electrical wiring
  • Moving sinks
  • Creating an outdoor dining area

Signage Permits

Breathe new life into your establishment by updating your restaurant’s signage. You must get specific permits and follow local sign ordinances to give your business the revamped look you’ve been dreaming about. These regulations will determine the size, location, type, and lighting of potential signs you can install. It’s best to check with your local guidelines before putting your sign up.

7. Focus on Necessary Fixes and Improvements

Prioritize fixing equipment and updating your technology before dipping your brush in paint. After all, your food and drinks are what bring customers to your restaurant. Before stressing about the decor, prioritize updating ovens, stove tops and walk-in fridges. You can also install self-pour technology to make operations more efficient. 

8. Start the Design Process

Finally, it’s time to let your creativity shine, and your designer can help. You should consider your goals before getting started. Ask yourself what you want to achieve and how your design choices could help you reach your goals. Here are a few things to include in your design process:

Optimize Your Layout

Change the layout of your restaurant to maximize your space and create a practical flow. Add more seating but allow space between tables and chairs for customers and servers to move. Make your layout between the entrance, bar, dining room and restroom easy to navigate.

Refurbish Your Furniture

There is no need to throw away all your furniture — you can refurbish your much-loved furniture that is still in good condition. This can help you save money while giving your restaurant an updated look. For example, you can paint, varnish, repair, or sand wooden furnishing to elevate its natural beauty.

Renovate Your Bar

Renovating a bar is another great way to add value to your restaurant. Make it a statement piece to attract those who want to unwind with a drink. Add durable barstools, mirrors, and lights to draw attention to your bar. 

Give Your Exterior a Makeover

Update your exterior by aligning it with your interior. You can repaint your walls, add canopies, and get fresh plants for a modern look. If you’re opening an outdoor seating area, make sure to use weather-resistant materials like aluminum for outdoor seating. 

Stay Authentic

While change is good, stay true to what makes your restaurant your restaurant. Mix trends with your vision to create a unique dining experience.

9. Add Unique Features

Add personality to your establishment with special features and decor. Below are a few features you can add to your renovation checklist: 

  • Live plants and flowers
  • Modern light fixtures
  • Statement art pieces
  • Mirrors
  • Seating options like sofas and booths

10. Invest in Self-Pour Technology

Self-pour technology is an excellent example of a unique restaurant renovation. It’s a versatile solution that offers many benefits, including helping you:

  • Create a new look.
  • Become more efficient.
  • Solve spatial issues in your establishment.
  • Simplify your operations.
  • Employ less staff. 
  • Boost your beverage sales. 
  • Shorten wait time for drinks. 

Here are some more in-depth benefits of these systems:

  • Design: A benefit of self-pour systems is that their design can be customized to fit your restaurant. The intrigue of pouring their own beverages will draw customers in. The novel experience will keep them coming back for more.
  • Spatial benefits: Redesign the interior of your bar and restaurant with self-pour technology. Knock out that old clunky bar and increase the size of your dining area. You can open up the interior and seat more guests. It gives you a unique flow and creates a memorable dining experience.
  • Operating efficiency: Self-pour technology gives you an exciting look that draws in more customers, leading to increased profits. It also boosts productivity, allowing employees to focus on other tasks.

If you’d like to see more statistics on self-pour beverage walls, fill out the form below to access our case studies. Our case studies provide information on locations utilizing self-serve tech and how it’s impacted their overall operations.

11. Market Your New Look

Now that your renovation is complete, it’s time to market it! It’s important to get the word out that you’ve just updated your restaurant, as this will get old customers excited and bring new ones through your doors! There are several ways to communicate your new renovation to consumers:

  • Create a marketing plan: Map out your marketing plan before advertising your new look. Identify your target market, your marketing budget and the channels you will use. 
  • Optimize your website: Take this time to update your website, too. Add images of your renovated restaurant, market your opening specials and announce your relaunch date.
  • Get social: Reach clients by advertising your remodel on social media. Add images, captions and contact details to attract customers. 
  • Host events: Prove your restaurant’s versatility by hosting events. You can host wine and beer tastings, New Year’s Eve parties and charity events. 
  • Offer specials: Attract customers with specials a few weeks after your relaunch. Offer happy hours, BOGO specials and half-priced deals.

For more event ideas, check out this post with a list of event ideas to give you some inspiration!

Elevate your guest’s dining experience with a self-pour technology system from PourMyBeer. Guests can pour their own drinks, and our systems support various payment options that smooth your operations and boost customer satisfaction.

If you have any questions about adding self-pour technology to your restaurant as part of your renovations, contact us directly at or fill out our contact form.

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Ambler, PA 19002

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