Sometimes I feel as though JH Greene’s project managers could write a novel on all they’ve seen in the high-end restaurant construction space. Although much shorter than a novel, this blog paints a picture of some of the big lessons we’ve learned over time.
- Makeup Air
The concept of “makeup air” is more of an HVAC professional’s area of attention, but an important consideration for a construction manager to confirm. Without outside air (or makeup air) to offset the air being consumed, areas can have poor air quality, doors can slam, and ventilation can be flawed creating odors or uncomfortable temperatures. Restaurants have pretty unique mechanical needs with smoky cooking processes, odor elimination, and OSHA standards to consider. A good general contractor will engage a mechanical partner and engineer who knows their way around the restaurant space and can navigate that type of project with the help of their previous experience to confirm enough makeup air is being introduced.
2. Cooling Requirements
Another mechanical focus is the precise attention to temperature regulation needed. With high temp equipment in the kitchen and outdoor open-seating areas, cooling can be a big factor in patron comfort and employee productivity. Positioning equipment and fixtures properly with underground lines is an area to optimize not only for project execution, but also for the longer-term success of the restaurant.
3. Ample Preparation for Inspections
If inspections aren’t scheduled properly, this will present inconvenient delays to an opening date. Since building codes vary by location, specific requirements inspected will depend on where you are. However, any unclear areas can be answered by the local government offices. Important areas to concentrate on include:
- Commercial kitchen code requirements
- Restaurant restroom requirements
- Accessibility requirements
- Exit sign requirements
- We’ll also tell you what you need to know about:
- Health inspections
- Inspection grades and health department restaurant ratings
- Fire inspections
Although it seems second nature within a renovation project, clarification is critical to ensure that the correct products will be installed on a project. For example, certain brands of HVAC equipment, lighting packages, casework, kitchen equipment, flooring, etc. have to be confirmed. Product spec via a website is commonly seen from the manufacturer and physical samples are required for many items. There is a good level of consideration needed to approve submittals by the client/architect prior to job start. In many instances, jobs can have an accelerated timeline and submittals sometimes go on longer than anticipated. This is a recipe to hold up a job’s progression substantially, and should be prevented through adequate preparation on approvals. Many times, subcontractors try to substitute products with comparable items, which can be disastrous if not caught prior to installations.
5. Design Preparation
Execution is easy. It’s more the design and preparation beforehand that can shape a project’s success. A good architectural/MEP package is key. Any areas that are lacking should be stressed to the planning/design team to tackle any ambiguity in favorable time (prior to construction execution). A “point and shoot” project fulfillment without clearly defined drawings isn’t something that has gone favorably in our experience.
6. Recognizing consumer behavior and natural flows
Convenience to the customer and understanding their needs is at the foundation of any successful restaurant. New design concepts help entice diners and add to the ever-important aesthetic appeal. To have a sleek appearance while also allowing a smooth operation and function isn’t always as easy as it seems, but always is a valued consideration in the high-end restaurant construction process.
Does the space plan have a natural flow of movement? Are there any blockages that could potentially present an obstruction during a busy time?
7. Relationship with Co-Tenants
It’s likely that your restaurant will not be in isolation, even if it is in a stand alone building. Neighboring businesses are actually a consideration during construction to begin a positive relationship, even pre-opening. These organizations can help feed business through promotion during the business’ infancy stages. This can only happen however if a positive relationship is fostered during the construction project, ensuring there is no inconvenience to their business.
Although these findings are limited to solely our experience, it’s always nice to have a good set of watch-outs to protect a project’s performance metrics.