Update or Gut the Restaurant Space You’ve Just Leased?


You’ve just leased a space for your new restaurant. It’s showing its age, however, and it needs updating.

Or you’ve just leased a restaurant that most recently served Mexican food and you plan to open a Japanese/sushi restaurant.

Do you gut the place and start over, or do you just update it?

The answer, of course, depends on your budget as well as your timeline because complete renovations cost more and take longer than simple space updating.

The answer also is affected by what you intend to do with the space, and what preceded you.

Taking the example above, changing a Mexican-themed restaurant to a high-class Japanese/sushi establishment probably call for a full renovation.

Moving a family restaurant to a Mexican restaurant, however, probably can be done with a relatively simple update of the space’s décor.

Whether you decide to gut the space for a full renovation or perform a simple update yourself, read below for some tips on saving money.

• Decide upfront what is absolutely critical to do and what can be left to later or taken off the to-do/want list entirely. Then make sure that the must-haves are done, leaving the would-like-to-haves for later, if your budget can accommodate them.
• Go for the high-impact elements that make a big difference in your restaurant’s décor as well as functionality for the biggest bang for your buck. Renovations that “just” include new paint, lighting, landscaping, upholstery, and finishes can make a dramatic difference at an affordable cost.
• Know what your menu’s average price point will be and then look for design elements, fabrics and materials that reflect that. If, for example, your average entrée comes in at $50, you could opt for the more expensive tile, rather than the budget WHAT.
• If renovating, think about what you could add that could add revenue. If the space doesn’t have a bar and your vision for you restaurant will accommodate it, consider adding a space to sell alcohol. (Remember, however, that bars tend to attract a younger, louder clientele. If you want to add a bar but you still want to attract a more refined crowd, consider a wine bar, for example).
• Always, always, always factor in unexpected expenses. They always come up, whether you’re updating or undergoing a full renovation. Place some wriggle room in your budget. You’ll never be sorry that you did so.
• Speaking of budgets, if you’ve decided to update/renovate while keeping your restaurant open, remember to factor in any lost sales you may encounter because you need to close off sections of your restaurant as the update progresses, or you need to close it entirely for a few weeks while you update.

Jones Baker is not your typical architecture firm. We help our clients – which include many restaurants – with the help they need in creating a unique identity for their establishment, one that helps differentiate them easily from their competitors. Whether your restaurant is in Dallas (as we are), across the country or across the world, if you’d like to learn more, contact us at 214-426-5600 or send us an e-mail via our online contact form.

Image courtesy of tiramisustudio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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