In this video, Craig Danto shows the construction phase of a restaurant that has been designed with a circular path – so servers can exit the kitchen one way, going out to the front-of-house with cooked food – and staff can enter the kitchen in a different doorway, carrying used plates to the dishwashing area.

This is a great example of a restaurant’s design and floor plan that not only shows where everything will be placed in the kitchen, but also what makes sense as a traffic-pattern within the restaurant, and takes into consideration new COVID requirements and codes.  

New restaurant owners typically know what they want to cook, but they often haven’t thought through everything they will need for preparing food on a large scale, including equipment, the workflow in the food preparation process, service areas, and how this will all fit into a restaurant space that includes the kitchen area and the front-of-house.

It’s important to create a space that allows for patrons to sit (or drink) comfortably, and for staff to serve and clean tables efficiently. It’s also critical to have the right construction and meet code requirements for food pick up and / or deliveries.

Both interior and exterior design and construction plans are needed to address these items for a new restaurant. And the person who does these designs needs to be fully aware of all the requirements and issues, to ensure compliance with current building codes that are specific to restaurants.

In addition, designs should take into account what makes restaurant construction different from other types of construction. There are strict code requirements for restaurant construction in the state of Florida, including everything from water supply and waste disposal to construction materials and finishes.

Restaurants use more energy

One example of knowing about restaurant construction is being aware of energy consumption and power needs. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “restaurants consume three times more energy per square foot than other commercial enterprises.” This is because of the equipment usage and long hours of operation for six or seven days a week.

Average energy consumption in a full-service restaurant is as follows:

  • Food Preparation – Cooking consumes approximately 35% of the energy a restaurant uses.
  • HVAC – Commercial heating and cooling uses up approximately 28% of energy costs.
  • Sanitation – Sanitation equipment and water usage are responsible for 18% of energy costs.
  • Lighting – Keeping the lights on uses 13% of a restaurant’s energy consumption.
  • Refrigeration – Refrigeration energy costs are approximately 6%.

For this reason, restaurants in the United States typically spend 3-5% of their total operating costs on energy. And it’s important to build the need for all this power into the design requirements for construction.

Building codes for hoods and grease traps

One of these codes is the requirement for hoods; more specifically, mechanical exhaust ventilation is required for commercial deep fat fryers, broilers, fry grills, and many other ranges, ovens, griddles, barbecues, rotisseries, etc. In addition, these hoods often need to able to remove grease, smoke, steam, vapors, heat or odors. And there are very specific space requirements for these hoods and systems.

The design of your restaurant needs to have all these requirements taken into consideration first, so that adequate planning is done and costs are figured for budgets and financing.

Proper plumbing and strict code compliance

Restaurants also have specific water and water disposal requirements. For example, a water temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit is required for industrial dishwashers (using 180-degree water for the final rinse cycle).

In addition, the kitchen area often requires one lavatory facility for washing hands and at least one mop basin. And there are specific needs for floor drains, grease traps and waste piping in the kitchen area – again, those codes and requirements need to be included in the design phase for proper space, construction estimates, and cost estimates.

Lighting and sound

While many people may not think about lighting as an important issue in a restaurant, it is a key component for creating an atmosphere that people enjoy – and one that is safe for movement and for reading a menu, seeing food, etc.

Sound is also a consideration, as construction materials can alter or contribute to the amount of noise within a restaurant. Hard surfaces will create a noisier atmosphere, for example, and a design for the dining area that includes more fabrics, a different flooring, and even the ceiling will impact the sound levels.

In the kitchen area, equipment use, movement, cooking activity, and food preparation can create so much noise that employees can’t hear one another. It’s important to design this space so that decibel levels aren’t so high that it’s difficult to work or get the orders correctly cooked and served.

Other space issues, such as ADA compliance

There are additional code considerations for the design and layout of a restaurant, such as ADA compliance. As of March 2012, all new construction and alterations must be compliant with The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), so that people with a range of disabilities can enter and eat at a restaurant.

Design factors include wheelchair-friendly access inside the building, within the dining area, as well as access to restrooms. Restaurant designs need to include these accommodations, as well as others.

Taking into consideration all these factors: ADA compliance, lighting, sound, plumbing, hoods and grease traps, as well as energy use, it’s critical to have a design and floor plan that meets code, meets your needs to cook and serve, and is an enjoyable space for the public.

If you don’t have a floor plan or design yet, contact us. We’re excited to help you with the design phase so that your dream to build your restaurant can come true!

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