How much does it cost to design a restaurant?
By Natasha, Founder of Blue Feather Designs
This is the first question I am asked by potential clients; I wish I was able to give one figure to everyone, it would certainly make life simple! But the truth is, the answer to the question is not straight forward. There are many factors that influence the cost of your design, and no two restaurants will have the same cost base.
I have put together this blog, to hopefully provide some clarity and guidance around this quite complex topic. In size order of expense, here is what costs you need to take into account:
Although this is not directly associated with the design and fit out costs, it does have an understandably large impact on your total budget. Look at total rent and rates and how this may change with the build of the restaurant. For existing restaurants this may not change, but for new ventures, installation of extra equipment for example in the kitchen, will certainly impact your service rates. Make sure you have thought this through in terms of affordability. If you are buying a new premises just remember that rent and rates will differ significantly based on the location. So high traffic areas such as central London for example will have much higher rent and rates than a property in the outskirts of London.
In addition to this your largest overhead will be staffing costs. Based on what the menu is you should have a reasonable estimate on how many staff you will be employing and what that cost will be. If you are very new to this, I would strongly advice seeking expert advice to create a well-informed business plan. Staffing costs will also be dependent on the type of service you plan to offer, for example fast food and casual eateries will have lower staffing costs than high end establishments that will require additional waiting staff and hosts.
Call in the experts
I often work with a number of professionals in order to execute a project, this will again differ each time depending on requirements.
- Architect/ planning professionals to help with council regulations and permissions
- Structural engineer – if there are any structural alterations required to the property
- Interior designer – to help you with design and fit out
- Quantity surveyor – help with quantifying amounts of materials required (This is normally provided by either the interior designer or the main contractor, but check this is the case!)
- Project manager – every project has the necessity for management, to reduce costs this may be something you want to do yourself, but be warned that it can be a full-time job!
- Main contractor – to carry out the fit out, the scope of works and what they will provide needs to be clear and contracted at the start of the project.
- Air conditioning and ventilation – always hire experts for this and ensure you obtain relevant warranties. The need for good HVAC systems is even more important following the COVID-19 pandemic. These are disruptive elements, so ensure the scope of work is clear from the outset.
- Fire safety – sprinkler systems and fire alarms, will need a sign off at the end of the project to comply with building regulations
- Other electrical services will include internet and Wifi, EPOS system and sound systems dependent on your requirements. Again, it is recommended that this is detailed and planned prior to work starting as the wiring etc can be disruptive in most cases.
- Architectural elements – such as a new shop front, new windows or even new roofing. These are all items that will come about as you go about the build and are large costs that should be considered from the outset.
Once you have identified the menu you will be able to make informed decisions on what equipment is required in your bar and kitchen. It is really beneficial for your head chef to work with you on this aspect as they will have their own preferences on preferred equipment. Just as in residential kitchens, commercial kitchen equipment will vary in cost depending on brands you select. Ensure your most used items are of a reasonably high quality as you would not want to be replacing these items more than you need to. Also consider costs of servicing and maintenance. Remember a lot of preloved equipment can be bought easily on the market to help you reduce costs, but they will not come with any associated warranties.
Also consider the overall design of the kitchen to help you make decisions. For example, smaller kitchens may benefit from having under and over counter equipment, whereas larger kitchens may be able to have larger stand-alone fittings. Kitchen design is a blog post of its own, but do plan your kitchen in advance as services will need to be planned and considered in advance.
Joinery and Bespoke Fittings
Your designer may specify bespoke joinery such as a bar, shelving or fixed seating within the main area of the restaurant. The cost of these items will be higher than anything “off the shelf” but will make best use of the space you have available. Choices in materials will dictate the final costs. What you should be aware of though, is these may be harder to budget for as most companies will have to conduct site surveys and templates to provide an accurate costing or quote for bespoke fittings. It is also worth noting here that lead times for these items will naturally be longer and this should be accounted for in the procurement process.
Design Furniture and Finishes
This is the final element but obviously the most impactful. The choices you make with regards to floors and wall finishes is what will essentially create the atmosphere of your restaurant. Having open conversations with your designer about budgets, will mean they can help you create the interiors you want and the price point you are able to afford. The sky is the limit with costs here, but hiring an interior designer will help you create the magical space that is so enticing to customers. At the end of the day customers mean income and income will help you cover these costs!
Finally, I would always add at least 15% to the total of your calculated costs as a buffer. Even more if your property is old or listed as there are always unexpected costs. Giving yourself this allowance to begin with will make sure you don’t have to make compromises in the design and will all in all, mean a less stressed out investor!
Preloved & existing materials
I have mentioned this a few times now, but you can save costs with purchasing preloved furniture and equipment. On the flip side if you are refurbishing an existing restaurant, do not lose sight of existing elements such as aircon, lighting etc, that you may be able to reuse to reduce costs. Obviously, all equipment should be serviced for safety and efficiency when purchasing an existing property but in many cases I have seen, most of these items are perfectly useable. Even if you decide you want to change particular units, the services to these points will save a considerable expense on the construction side. Anything you do not want to use, consider sites such as Gumtree and Ebay to sell off equipment and furniture not so much for the income, but more to avoid these items going to landfill. Never forget one man’s junk is another man’s treasure!
How long does it take to design a restaurant?
I thought I would answer my second most asked question here too. Sadly there is no definitive answer to this either, as the time it takes will be dependent on so many factors;
- How much of the existing restaurant is remaining?
- How complex the new design is?
- How much structural work is required?
- How long your local planning department take to grant authorities?
- How fast your main contractors work
As a general rule though, from experience, I always tell clients to allow at least 6 months for the design and fit. This is a very basic estimate as I said. If you engage the services of a project manager, they will help guide you on timelines and order of work.
Hopefully that has given you a good foundation to start the design process. For someone embarking on a project for the first time, it can seem like a lot to take in, however difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations! If you feel overwhelmed or need to talk things through, feel free to hit the contact button below, I would love to help!
About The Author: Natasha, a London based Restaurant Designer. LEARN MORE HERE.