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Designing & Specifying a New Foodservice Operation

Planning a New Foodservice Facility

The task of planning a new facility or a remodeling project is complex. It requires interaction between management, the fooservice designer and architect to clarify objectives and outline the “scope of work” necessary to complete the project on time and within budget.

Concept Development

The plan to open a new foodservice operation starts with the owner/ operator’s enthusiasm but ultimately begins with the process of Concept Development. Although some of the components of Concept Development are beyond the scope of this article, it is a precondition to the Facility Design phase of the project. Concept Development lays the foundation of the business and requires a comprehensive business plan that determines the Menu, Market, Capital Investment, Management Team, Food Production Methods and Food & Beverage Control Systems. It also develops a strategy for growth and (ROI) return on investment. In order to complete the business plan, a Market and Financial Feasibility Study must be completed. The Market Feasibility study analyzes the demographics, traffic patterns, local economy, competition and eating habits of local patrons. The Financial Feasibility Study projects profit and loss, financial statements and a cash flow projection and analysis. Regardless of the operators experience or background, employing a team of professionals is highly recommended, and from a functional standpoint, necessary. Once the Business plan is in place, the Design & Specification phase can be formulated.

The Purpose of the Design Function in a Foodservice Project

To more thoroughly explain the purpose of the design function, let’s assumes the construction of a new facility. Initially, a project manager or architect obtains requirements for plan approval from the local building, fire, and health departments. National codes establish a base line, but local requirement always prevail; and will vary in different municipalities. If an architect is not required, the project manager or someone else assigned must take on the role of managing the design and specification process. With any new facility, architectural drawings are necessary in order to demonstrate compliance with local and national codes and to obtain permits. HVAC, electrical, plumbing, waist and lighting plans are normally included.  Final drawings provide the road map for the general contractor and subcontractors to bid from and follow in order to complete the project as specified.

Selecting an Architect and Foodservice Consultant

Since most architects are not kitchen designers, a foodservice consultant must be hired to work in conjunction with the architect to communicate foodservice equipment and furnishing requirements that must be integrated with the overall plans. These requirements are established thorough managements interaction with the consultant and architect. Some architectural firms do specialize in restaurants and retail establishments. They are staffed with kitchen specialists, interior designers and the more prominent firms focus on chain restaurants and retail stores providing complete Concept Development and Design packages. The typical independent operator; however, will have access to local architects. It is advisable for the architect to have some restaurant background. It is always best to contract the foodservice design agreement separately and not include it in the architect’s scope of work; otherwise outside consultant fees will be charged. A separate foodservice design agreement will allow for more control over the design process that requires a great deal of interaction with the consultant. Another option to an independent foodservice consultant is to utilize the design capabilities of a restaurant equipment distributor. If they have AutoCAD capabilities and design personnel on staff, they may offer the most economical approach by discounting design fees on the equipment purchase based on the size of the final contract. The possibility of the distributor inflating prices to offset the discount can be reduced through the bidding process. Interior Design can also be contracted separately; however, most architects have the capability of providing this service as well. Foodservice designers and distributors may offer interior design as well. In this case you may or may not find the same results with a separate interior design agreement. It would be advantageous to discuss interior design capabilities with all parties offering this service before making a final decision. Interior design is a critical area that ties in closely with the theme you are developing. The end result must satisfy Concept Development requirements no less than everything else.

The Design Process

The Design Process is interactive and the foodservice consultant must be sure to understand the plan objective and adjust for any changes as they occur. The operator should also be sure to communicate objectives and changes clearly to insure that the design process is in sync and on track with the goals of the business. A foodservice operation fits the definition of a manufacturing concern and the same principles of design apply. Space, work flow and efficiency are key principles to the design process.

Phases of Designing & Specifying a Foodservice Facility

A. Initial agreement between the owner and the Foodservice consultant and architect

B. Functional Space Analysis

  1. Receiving
  2. Storage & Handling
  3. Preparation
  4. Cooking (Including Steam & baking Equipment)
  5. Wait Stations & Service Areas
  6. Furnishings & Front of the House (Furniture & Décor)
  7. Smallwares & Supplies
  8. Signage

C. Initial Design & Budget

D. Plan Development and Engineering

  • Specifications
    1. General Conditions
    2. Workmanship
    3. Equipment Specifications
      1. Equipment – (Buy out Items)
      2. Custom Fabrication
  • Agency Approvals

E. Scope of Work

  • General Contractor
  • KEC, Kitchen Equipment Contractor
  • Equipment & Furnishing Installation

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