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5. Go directly to the source. It’s not for the faint of heart nor the inexperienced, but Blauberg is a firm proponent of taking those plans straight to the tradespeople who will build the restaurant. He interviews several plumbers, electricians and HVAC specialists and asks for quotes based on the drawings. Then he circles back and finds a general contractor, who brings in carpenters, deals with permit issues and supervises the project.
He says going directly to subcontractors saves on the markup the contractor normally takes for pulling together the experts.
6. Plan and equip the kitchen to maximize efficiency. “It’s all about economy of motion in the kitchen,” Blauberg says. “The cooks on the line should not have to walk great distances to get ingredients.” Similarly, oven doors situated next to above a range should be hinged correctly to allow access. He advises researching the available equipment and zeroing in on the most innovative products, then shopping around for the best prices. He sometimes calls manufacturers directly and asks them to recommend distributors who are willing to cut him a deal, especially when he plans to buy multiple pieces. And he prefers units like programmable combi ovens for consistency and efficiency.
“When I go into a restaurant and create menus and recipes one of the biggest questions I hear is ‘what happens when you are gone? How do we maintain this quality level?’” Programmable equipment helps ensure consistent results.
7. Make the design work for you. You should begin by deciding whether you need an interior designer or a decorating service. The cost difference might be tenfold, so it’s a question worth asking, Blauberg says. Some spaces simply need an updated color palette or furniture, advice a decorator can offer.
Regardless of who designs the interior, the owner should be involved in choosing the finishes with an eye to the long run. Metal tends to be more durable than other finishes, for instance, and some fabrics are more stain-resistant than others.
“Instead of saying, ‘Here’s $2 million. Build me a restaurant,’ Blauberg advises owners to get their hands dirty in the buildout process. “The more involved you are, the more aware you are of the costs,” he observes. “Restaurant buildouts are expensive.”