When it’s time to hire an architect, designer, or other contractor to remodel (or even build) your restaurant, you will be faced with a contract whose terms will impact both your operations and your budget. Having a lawyer review your contract can help you anticipate the items — from warranties to the project schedule — that might cause trouble as you move ahead.
To help you understand the potential dangers and points of negotiation on such agreements we have taken an existing contract and annotated it. We gathered the input of professionals from different sides of the restaurant design process in order to highlight some of their key concerns or areas of interest.
Our commentators are:
Thomas Clarke, attorney with the firm Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley. RMKB’s extensive business litigation expertise reaches into almost every conceivable aspect of the business world: From pre-litigation advice in order to assist in business decision-making, to the full spectrum of litigation proceedings.
Stephen Langford, President and Principal Architect of Stephen Langford Architects. Stephen Langford’s firm has provided architectural and interior design services for restaurant and hospitality projects for 30 years. Their project types range from fast-casual to fine dining for national restaurant clients and single-project entrepreneurs with projects located throughout the U.S.
Bill Lee, restaurant owner. Bill Lee started out in the restaurant business at 14 as a dishwasher. In the past 39 years, he has started seven restaurants. Today, he owns Bahama Billy’s Island Steakhouse in Carmel, California.
Russ Savrann, attorney on the Hospitality, Beverage, and Franchise Team with the firm Graham & Dunn. Russ Savrann has represented large restaurants in lease and build-out negotiations, license agreements, permitting, and other key operational issues.
Richard Sisnerose, President of Presidio Design Group. Richard Sisnerose has more than 30 years of experience in the food-service industry, including having worked as food-service consultant with several design firms over the years. With an educational background that includes a degree in architecture, he creates facility designs that are both functional and visually stimulating.
This sample contract is not representative of all consultant agreements in the restaurant industry. This is an example of a custom contract and happens to come from a food-service designer. Many architects use the standard AIA (American Institute of Architects) contract, which, like this one, tends to favor the consultant. We offer this document as an example of the sort of items you might come across in your agreements with consultants.
Of course, the notes on this contract represent only a partial list of concerns, and there is no substitute for a thorough legal review of the specific contract before you. Thomas Clarke, a lawyer whose work encompasses restaurant contract issues, cautions that everything in a contract merits careful review.
Read our sample client-consultant contract.
Do you have stories about working with designers and architects? Send your comments to the restaurant advisor John Foley and he’ll address them in his discussions.