Guide to Renovating Your Restaurant
How to Renovate Your Restaurant
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)!
While it may be time to upgrade your establishment, it’s important to consider several factors before jumping straight in. First, think about what the reasoning is behind your plans to renovate. Renovating a restaurant can cost anywhere from $150 to $750 per square foot, so you’ll have to think strongly about your budget and what you can afford.
Whatever the reasoning behind your renovation may be, we’re here to walk you through the process from start to finish. From researching and creating a budget to designing and marketing, you’ll find everything you need to know to successfully renovate your restaurant below!
Do Your Research
Once you’ve decided that it’s time to renovate your restaurant, you’ll need to do proper research to ensure that the renovation goes as smoothly as possible.
Visit Locations Near You
The first step when conducting research for your renovation is to find the most successful restaurants in your area. Once you’ve created a list of these restaurants, it’s time to visit them. Taking a trip to these locations will help you gain real-life experience and give you inspiration for your establishment that would otherwise be difficult to find online. If possible, you should even try to speak with the owners at each restaurant that you visit. You can ask them about their renovations, learn what worked for them and what didn’t, and ask about their experience with the contractors they used. If they have good things to say about the contractors, you should ask for their names so you can get in contact with them.
Observe the Space
Once you’ve done enough research at other locations, it’s time to conduct some at your own operations. Take a look at your space and watch how your customers act. Are there areas where it’s hard for customers to get around? Could anything be adjusted to make the experience better?
Now that you’ve looked at your space from the customer’s perspective, it’s time to watch from the server’s perspective. Are your servers struggling to get to customers? If anything seems off, it probably is. You don’t want to overlook the spatial alignment. Now is the time to improve your layout and design, as this will benefit both your customers and servers in the long run!
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Although watching your customers and staff is a great way to learn about improvements that you can make, it’s even better to talk directly with guests and servers about the different aspects of your operations. You can ask your customers for feedback through traditional comment cards, email marketing, or surveys.
While it’s great to ask customers directly for their feedback, some might be too shy to share. A great way to learn how customers feel about your establishment is to see what your customers are saying about your restaurant online. Conducting a social media audit will give you the most insight into how your customers truly feel about your business. Look through the comments on your social media channels and see if there is a common theme on any aspect of your operations that customers don’t love.
Find the Right Contractor
This is arguably the most important step of the research process and finding the right contractor for you is crucial. Your contractor will work with you to create the ideas and design the layout so they must understand your vision, timeline, and budget.
A great way to find the right contractor is to reach out to people in your network. Most likely these industry professionals will have a list of names that you can reach out to. It’s easier to find and select the right contractor when they’ve received high praise from people you know!
Develop a Budget
As the saying goes – “You need to spend money to make money,” and this holds true when you are renovating your bar/restaurant because it is going to be expensive! Unfortunately, there is no way around that. However, by being intentional and educated about your budget, you can mitigate additional expenses. Here, we are going to give you some insight and suggestions to help you develop your renovation budget.
First thing’s first, you need to prepare yourself. Renovations are not normally cheap nor easy, and 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.
How to Estimate the cost of Renovation
The cost of your renovation will depend on how extensively you plan on renovating, the size of your establishment, your timeline, and the cost of labor and materials in your area. Foodservice solutions company, Notch, developed this list of financial factors that you should consider:
- Current sales / expenses
- Whether you’re eligible for financing
- The loan terms you could expect
- How much you can afford to spend out of pocket
- How the remodel will affect your revenue in the short/long term
- If the renovation will increase your restaurant’s bottom-line
Run the Numbers
One of the biggest costs of your renovation will be hiring someone to help you. Deciding on the right contractor who can come in and understand all of the mechanics and logistics of the renovation is an important decision and can be expensive. The good thing is that these individuals have experience working with various budgets and have resources that can help you along the way. To ensure that you’re financially sound, consult with your contractor and look at a renovation calculator to figure out the cost per square foot.
Be Smart with your money
Think about all the changes you need to make at your establishment. Some will be expensive and necessary, others cheap and effective, so be sure to take a step back and be intentional with your budget.
Prioritize the issues that must be addressed and create a budget that will help you maximize the return on your renovation. For example, if you need to knock down a wall to create an easier flow within the restaurant, focus your money there instead of on expensive cosmetic changes.
You can make affordable changes to your restaurant that will give you the facelift you need. These changes can be as simple as adding new lighting/decorations, painting the walls, or even creating an inexpensive modern look by exposing brick walls or ceiling beams. These small changes will help give your establishment a fresh new look that customers will love without breaking the bank!
At the end of the day, it is going to cost you money, and that’s fine! But be intentional with your budget. Don’t rush the decision process. Run the numbers and find the best bang for your buck!
Create a timeline
Now that we have established what our budget will be, timing is everything. It is important to consider the timing of the renovation changes that you need to make. On average, bars and restaurants should do some sort of renovation every 5 years or so. This allows you to continuously keep up with the times and not fall behind with a laundry list of fixes and changes to make. It is also common practice for these establishments to plan to complete their renovations during their slower months.
When building out your timeline for your renovations, work from back to front. Decide on a date that you want to reopen, maybe a holiday weekend or a weekend that you expect a lot of traffic, and work back from there. The last thing you want is to lose out on revenue during one of the busiest times of the year! However, as we mentioned earlier, things will likely arise that will slow the process down, so be sure to give yourself a cushion! If renovations are scheduled to take one month, do not plan on starting to renovate exactly one month before your target date because it’s likely that you will not make it in time. Give yourself some additional time to be safe. This way, when your renovation inevitably takes longer than you expected, you will still have time to complete it before your grand reopening.
Another largely important thing to consider in the timing of your renovation is communication and outreach. Communicate with your customers when you are going through the renovation process. Tell them what you are doing and when they can expect to return to your location. Post to social media, send them emails, flyers, or texts if they are in your loyalty programs. Just because they cannot come into your establishment for some time does not mean that you cannot interact with them! Promote your Grand Reopening and make a big deal about it. People will be stoked to come in and see what you have done!
Restaurant Renovation Inspections and Permits
If you’re considering renovating your restaurant or bar, remember to start getting your permits and approvals in advance. Businesses in most states and municipalities must follow specific requirements to renovate their establishments legally. These requirements are generally determined by the town, city, or state government.
Once you complete the planning stage and have the designs, contact your municipality immediately. Getting the necessary approvals, inspections, and permits will generally take a few months. Since failing to follow requirements could result in significant fines, it’s best to square everything away early. You should check with your local officials if you’re wondering whether your renovation project requires any licenses or permits.
Health and Fire Department Approvals
Health and fire safety inspections are required when renovating your restaurant, especially if you’re changing your kitchen. Kitchens are among the most common locations for fires to occur within restaurants, so it’s no wonder why inspectors prioritize ensuring these rooms are up to code.
Many areas require range hoods above gas and electric ovens, stoves, and fryers. They will also inspect your grease trap and wastewater management systems, ensuring oil and grease don’t go into your plumbing and the public sewer system. Most towns also specify the types of walls and floors you should use to keep your area clean and prevent bacteria growth.
Outside the kitchen, your 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 in a suitable condition. These checks typically happen toward the end of your build and could result in costly changes if you don’t get everything done right the first time around.
Interior and Exterior Building Permits
Aside from passing health, safety, and fire inspections, you’ll need to obtain building permits to renovate your restaurant. Following zoning regulations and gaining approvals from your local government is necessary to ensure your project is legal. While it depends on your area, some renovation jobs you’ll probably need a permit for include:
- Improving restrooms
- Removing walls
- Adding onto your existing structure
- Adjusting your plumbing
- Updating your HVAC system
- Installing new electrical wiring
- Moving sinks
- Creating an outdoor dining area
Updating your restaurant’s signage is a fantastic way to breathe new life into your establishment. You just have to acquire 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.
After you’ve developed a budget and created a timeline, you can start the design process. When beginning the design process, a key step before starting any renovations is to ensure that you’ve made a detailed floorplan and outlined everything from start to finish. This includes who your architects will be, what furniture you plan to use, and the overall type of experience you want to create. Your floorplan and design plan will allow every member of the team to remain on the same page throughout the entire process. Also, having a set design plan will help you save money as it’ll allow you to stick to your budget.
Two important things to note when developing your design plan are…
- Revamp the exterior – Don’t forget that the outside of your establishment is just as important as the inside. If the outside looks a bit run down, customers may steer clear of your restaurant and go somewhere with a better exterior.
- Don’t change too much – While change is a good thing, too much change can impact your restaurant in a negative way. Customers want your restaurant to feel familiar. They don’t want to walk into your restaurant only to find that nothing looks the same.
Once you have your entire design mapped out, you’re ready to start renovating your restaurant!
If you are considering renovating your restaurant, think about adding a self-pour beverage wall to your current operations! You won’t be disappointed. Whether you are renovating to create a new look, become more efficient, or solve spatial issues in your establishment, self-pour technology is the most versatile solution out there! It will help simplify your operations, resulting in needing less staff. Self-pour technology will also significantly boost your beverage sales since guests never have to wait for drinks and can pour and sample every drink by the ounce. This leads customers to have a great tasting journey!
One of the greatest things about self-pour beverage walls is that their design can be customized to fit the personality of your establishment. This gives you the unique opportunity to blow your customers away with creativity, as opposed to just repainting the walls or adding new lights. Customers will be drawn in by the intrigue of pouring their own beverages, and the novel experience will keep them coming back time and time again.
By using self-pour technology, you can redesign the interior of your bar/restaurant to be more spacious. Knock out that old clunky bar and increase the size of your dining area, this way more guests can come in and enjoy! With the versatility of our self-pour walls, you can open up the interior of your restaurant to have a unique flow.
Self-pour technology not only gives you a fresh exciting look that will draw in more customers but it’s proven to increase your profits by approximately 50%! Operators who make the switch to a self-pour setup see an average increase in sales by 45%, a decrease in labor cost by 20% or more, and less than 3% waste in their establishments!
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.
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Marketing Your Renovation
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, but the best way to increase visibility is to market it online via your different social media channels. Showcasing pictures of your newly updated restaurant will leave customers wanting more! Write engaging captions and keep customers in the loop. Tell them when you’ll be reopening your doors and any specials that you’re offering.
Not only should you market your restaurant online, but you should also host some special events to help with getting the word out. You can host a Wine Wednesday or Trivia Night and offer specials to guests. Post about your event online to generate buzz and excitement! Your customers will want to come out and support you, so make sure to communicate with them.
For more event ideas, check out this post with a list of event ideas to give you some inspiration!
If you have any questions about adding self-pour technology to your restaurant as part of your renovations, you can get in touch with us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out our contact form below!