Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Free Virtual Visit, sorry no food.

For anyone interested in following the progress of our latest restaurant design project. I have put together a disc which includes a 3D model of the project in progress, a viewer program that will enable you to walk around the virtual restaurant, and the ever so important "ReadMe" file to explain how it all works.

I will be more than happy to send an email friendly version of the disc, FREE of charge to anyone who requests a copy. Interested?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Just how does it work?

I have had many questions in my email about how the design process actually works. The video shown is a basic breakdown of the process. Please email me for specifics on how this can work for your particular project. I'll be more than happy to detail the process for your needs.
NEXT: a continuation of the post "Playing the Numbers".

Playing the Numbers

Reviewing a history of the past few years, marking the openings and closings of restaurants in Wilmington, the city in which I reside and design for.
I was quite surprised by the actual game of numbers

The following numbers were compiled from information provided by "Dine Wilmington Online" the best source for anything and everything food related in Wilmington and growing to cover all of the U.S.

In 2006, 47 new restaurants opened. 10 of which replaced restaurants that had previously closed.
2 of these listed as new were enlarged versions from prior to 2006. and 3 were the opening of a second location. and finally 7 of these 47 new restaurants were built in a brand new and exclusive section of town called Mayfaire. (remember this name).

Also note, 6 of these restaurants were designed by myself.

In 2007, 20 restaurants closed. of these 8 had opened just the year before.
1 was from Mayfaire (brand new building, built from the ground up).
3 were in an area undergoing massive road construction.

Also note, 1 of these was designed by myself, ouch!

Meanwhile during this same period of 2007 28 new restaurants opened.
6 of these restaurants took over the properties vacated by the 20 that just closed.
1 was opening as a new second location. 1 was added to the Mayfaire property.

Also note, 1 was designed by myself.

In 2008, 13 restaurants closed. of these 4 had been open for only 2 years.
5 were from the exclusive Mayfaire Properties.

Also note, 0 of these were designed by myself.

During this same period of 2008, 19 new restaurants had opened to the public.
Of these 4 have since closed, of these 4, one was a Mayfaire property.

Also note, of these 19 new restaurants, 3 were designed by myself.

As the economy took it's downturn in 2009 the information became quite sketchy. But let's take a look at the numbers we have and what they could mean.

2006- 47 open
10 previously closed
Total 37 new restaurants added to the city.
2007 20 close
Total 17 remain of the 2006 entries
28 new were added
Total 45
2008 13 closed
32 remain from the 2006 entries
19 new restaurants open
Total 51
4 closed
Total 47 restaurants remain from the 2006 entries.

There are several hundred restaurants in the Wilmington area, but just running the numbers for the past three years shows absolutely no change in restaurant counts up till 2009. as I research the new numbers, we shall see what is actually happening.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Restaurants and the Economy

As the current economy wreaks havoc with the hospitality industry I have seen more and more of our local restaurant industry close it's doors. this may seem to some as a death knell for the dream of owning the restaurant of your dreams, but taking a closer look, there is financial opportunity for the taking along every busy thoroughfare.
Restaurants by nature always seek out the prime locations. the previous owners have left behind in these locations the perfect shell for a new restaurant transformation. The incredible infrastructure that had to be built and put into place, ie; proper plumbing, drainage, waste traps, ADA sized restroom facilities, industrial heating and air. vent hoods, fire suppression and the like have already been installed. Once a restaurant has closed, the infrastructure contained within makes it highly unlikely that the building will ever be converted into, let's say, an office. with the mortgage lenders holding so many of these properties, real deals are available out there for buildings that can more easily and less expensively be re-transformed into a winning restaurant, than trying to convert any other type of building, let alone the expensive task of building from the ground up.
Adding to this is the decline in the cost of building materials, The economics of Lowes & Home Depot. Now is the optimal time to consider your plan into restaurant ownership, seek out closed locations that will suit your purpose. contact the mortgage lender and begin a rapport they may be holding other properties with better deals. contact a designer and discuss your plans. generally transformations and simple upfits do not require the expense of an architect or engineer. Getting all of your ducks in a row now, will place you in a better position as the economy makes it's inevitable turn to a more normal state.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Our New Jingle

Just a quick :10 second commercial spot to promote our catchy new jingle for our other website, www.RestaurantsByDesign.com It kinda sticks in your head, so beware!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Size Matters

A caveat of good design, "When working in a large space, the introduction a few large, select pieces, are always better than filling a large space with small pieces". This becomes even more evident in the large space of a restaurant. Unlike residential design, where the separate areas serve distinctly different purposes, the common guest areas of a restaurant should share a cohesive unity.
Visual comfort, puts the guest at ease, producing a state of relaxation that sets the tone for the dining experience to follow. In a large space, design should seek balance. Common areas should exhibit an equal sense of importance and comfort.
Upon entering the restaurant, the guest, (with the exception of a smoking area), should not feel the need to request one area of the dining room as more desirable than another. The room, regardless it's size should appear as a singular area.
Utilizing larger artwork on walls, large lighting arrays and reoccurring motifs, gives the observer a sense of spacial openness, which in turn adds to the aire of comfort. If a guest can appreciate the visual touches from across the room as easily as from where they are seated, they are, in effect, sitting everywhere. Each and every seat is the best seat in the house.

These design decisions should be made early on during the initial design process. enabling the electrician to provide necessary connections for larger lighting arrays and proper illumination of the larger art pieces. I have experienced, time after time, restaurants that missed the importance of these simple design tips, instead, considering the process as a simple matter of decoration, and then attempt to fill the large area as an afterthought, the overall look being cluttered, disjointed and confusing. Not an environment for a pleasurable dining experience.
Great design considers all at once, all as one. From the eye of the viewer, inside looking out, as well as the view from the outside looking in. When all variables are considered, there can never be the unfortunate outcome of afterthought.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Rule of Numbers

I have found with many first time restaurant clients, that they have very grandiose yet impractical ideas about how much seating they will have, when opening their new restaurant. There are several constants that should always be taken into consideration early on, when designing a dining area.
For the sake of example, let's look at a fictitious project, now in the state of an empty box. Logic tells us, the more seats we have, the more guests we can seat, the more money we can make per seating turnover. Well let's add these variables into the equation.
1. The more seats you have filled, the larger the kitchen needed to serve the guests.
2. The larger the kitchen space the smaller the dining room can be.
3. The larger the kitchen, the larger the kitchen and waitress staff.
4. The larger the general staff, the more parking space needed.
5. The more of the parking space used by staff, the less parking space available for guests.
6. The more guests and staff combined, the more restroom facilities will be needed.
7. The more restroom space created, the smaller the dining area can be.

These are all critical considerations that need to be balanced early on, before beginning any thought to table placement.
Let's take a more critical look at variable #7. A.D.A. restrooms, (American Disabilities Act) requires a larger entryway with a minimum of 5'-0" turning radius for wheelchair users. This makes a rather large overall difference in the size of what was once a standard restroom. If not taken into consideration, plan on subtracting an additional 150sq' from your dining floorspace.
Having subtracted for kitchen and Restroom space, the following are additional areas that will determine the actual space available for seating.

1. When laying out tables, a minimum of 3'-0" space needs to be allotted between the seat backs of one table to the seat backs of the adjoining tables. This loss of space can be minimized by placing rows of tables on the bias, or in a diamond configuration.

2. A minimum of 4'-0" is recommended between rows of tables to accommodate not only your food laden waitstaff, but also the movement of guests.

3. One or more waitress stations, depending on the size of the restaurant, will be needed to provide for the needs of seated guests. Providing coffee, tea, soft drinks, water, additional flatware, napkins and the like. these areas need to be close enough to the guests for the server to anticipate the guests needs, but creatively cloaked, as not to be a visual distraction.

4. An adequate sized waiting area adjacent to the hostess station should always be provided for the comfort of the guests in wait, as well as the privacy and comfort of those guests dining. This area will also become useful for those guests taking cell phone calls.

So we can now get a fair approximation of the available dining area remaining. Maximizing this space is now key to maximizing seating numbers.
Booths are always popular with guests, but a group of two sitting at a booth for four will monopolize two excess seats for that turnover. A better way of creating maximum flexibility and the desired atmosphere of having booths is by utilizing the banquet.
A banquet (ban-ket') is a long bench, upholstered much as the bench of a booth, running the length of the dining room. an assortment of 2 and 4 top tables spaced 4'-0" apart can be placed facing the banquet and backed with dining room chairs. This orientation gives you quite a few options for any sized group. Tables and chairs are simply slid together along the banquet creating 2 tops, 4 tops, 6 tops, whatever is needed, without the unnecessary loss of additional seating. this configuration also takes up less floor space than a row of booths while providing more available seating.
Corner booths which accommodate 5-6 guests can be used at each end for large groups, as these larger booths are rarely taken by couples.

These tips, along with the mandatory requirements listed above, should give you the maximum seating numbers allowable to the size of the structure.