I was speaking with a restaurateur in the design stages of building the first of what could grow into a small group of eateries on
The first problem here is if you are unsure in the early stages, get a second opinion and explore other options.
Architects and where they fit in the restaurant development process is a complex topic. In the eight restaurants I owned I only used an architect for one of those projects. That would have been number 9, but instead it turned out to be the one that never opened. This was just coincidental but the architectural highway does lead one down a road that adds substantial costs to any project.
I am fortunate since Kranston has a fantastic eye for design and interpretation. I have a fair feel for design and have always known what I wanted but have difficulties when putting those visions on paper. Kranston can take what I think I see and turn it into a restaurant plan while adding her thoughts on what I really see.
Whenever we began a project we would develop an idea through brainstorm-conceptualization. We would work on our concept by hunting for ideas. Then the adventure began. Exploring concepts and comparing them to ours and extracting design elements we liked took months.
Kranston began eventually developing story boards with a collage of pictures, samples of wood, color charts, fabric, flooring, counter top materials and other design elements fitting together to establish a possible look and feel for the restaurant.
The name of the restaurant was always chosen first. Without a name, a concept is orphaned with no identity.
Photos of the chairs, the tables, the silverware and the plates would each be included in the boards. By the time the design concept were done, a sample menu had been created and included to make sure the food resembled the feel of the space and the story was beginning to form. In my world, comfort food doesn’t sit well with stark, contemporary modern. Any more than sushi works with a rustic lodge theme.
In all of our journeys the completion of the concept boards and the acquisition of a potential space intersected at the precise time. In most of our restaurants we managed to remodel under the radar so we could work as the general contractor hiring tradesmen to complete the project.
But in some projects we needed plans and approvals from county and city agencies. Enter the architect. Wrong. Enter a draftsman or designer that has the credentials to stamp plans. One of the little known secrets in many counties and communities is that a draftsman can not only design your plans but can also stamp them for building department, health department and liquor agency approval.
In the movie, “It’s Complicated”, starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin there were two important points made. The resurgence of the Croque Monsieur and the fact many modern day architects use a computer program to design. And so do certified draftsman.
So before you go the architectural route, new owners may want to explore the possibility of finding a draftsman with the talent to interpret a story board and stamp the plans to begin the approval process.
And no matter what road you choose, make sure tat the proposal the architect or draftsmen/design presents has a clear definition of change orders, design change charges and has a financial cap on the project as your cost over runs could bury the project before the first nail is pounded. Take it from one who knows.