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Everything You Need to Know About Renovating a Restaurant

Remodel Your Way to a More Inviting Atmosphere

The restaurant business isn’t easy—especially with shiny new competitors opening their doors every day. To keep up with changing trends and appeal to new customers, industry pros recommend remodeling your restaurant every five to ten years. While planning a restaurant renovation is a lot of work, statistics show that you can net up to a 40 percent increase in sales. 

Below we answer the big questions about planning your redesign, then round up top restaurant renovation ideas to help you breathe new life into your business. 

Restaurant Remodeling Logistics

What’s the Average Cost of a Restaurant Renovation?

The true cost of a restaurant renovation varies based on the size of your business, scope of your redesign and your location. It’s a good idea to run some numbers to determine approximately how much to spend on your restaurant remodel, then use your budget to inform your plans. Consider factors like:

  • Current sales.
  • Current expenses.
  • Am I eligible for financing?
  • What kind of loan terms can I expect?
  • How much can I afford to spend out-of-pocket?
  • How will the remodel impact my cash-flow in the short-term?

Remember that what you spend on your remodel should be in line with your restaurant’s price point. A quick service restaurant doesn’t need to splurge on aesthetics to meet customers’ expectations the way a high-end dinner spot might.

Should You Stay Open While Remodeling Your Restaurant? 

The average restaurant remodel takes six to eight weeks to complete. Unless your plans are pretty minor, you’ll almost certainly have to close for at least part of the work. The prospect of shutting off your revenue stream sounds frightening, but a report by Delaget found that restaurants that closed during a renovation saw a much larger increase in sales once work was complete than those that stayed open. 

The biggest reason to close is that, between the noise, dust and limited use of equipment, you won’t be able to provide the same level of service during a renovation. Poor service does much more to drive away customers than the prospect of waiting for a grand reopening. 

Pro Tip: Minimize the amount of time you need to close your restaurant by finalizing all the details of your renovation before work begins and creating timelines for each task with your remodeling company. 

How Should You Announce Your Restaurant Remodel?

There are two answers to this question, one for your staff and one for your customers.

For Staff: Do the right thing and announce the remodel—and the timeline for closing— as soon as work is set to begin. Many restaurant owners fear that announcing a closing too soon will leave them short-staffed in the lead up as people start searching for new jobs. In reality, giving your staff time to budget for a closing decreases the chance that your best employees will jump ship.

For Customers: Announce your restaurant remodel about a week prior to closing or as soon as contractors start work in areas diners will notice. Throughout the closing, share photos of the transformation on your website and social media accounts to build excitement. Announce your reopening a week beforehand—along with any associated specials.

Choosing How to Renovate Your Restaurant

Remember Your Regulars

Remodeling your restaurant provides a major opportunity to attract new customers, but if you already have a loyal following it’s crucial to consider them in your plans. Regulars who show up weekly—or even daily—think you’re doing something right. So, let them know about your renovation plans and ask them what they’d like to see change—and what should stay the same. 

Know Your Neighborhood

Like any business, a successful restaurant needs to understand their customers. Look up demographic information for your area to see if your customer base has changed since you first opened. For example, if young people are pouring into your area, it could be a smart move to renovate your bar area to appeal to a younger crowd—or add a bar if you don’t have one. The specifics will depend on what type of restaurant you operate, but it’s smart to know who is most likely to walk through your door.

Here are a couple resources for finding this information:

Look for Efficiencies

Good service is just as important as good food to keep people coming back. Use your restaurant renovation to help your staff serve customers faster and with fewer mishaps. 

  • Could you use more seating?
  • Do lines get too long at the register?
  • Are tables located too close to the bathroom?
  • Is your restaurant accessible for people with mobility aids?
  • Is your waiting area big enough to keep people from spilling over?
  • Does your kitchen layout maximize efficiency? What about storage areas?
  • Do wait staff have adequate room to move past each other between tables?

Once you know your problem areas, you can factor solutions into your design plans. 

Pro-Tip: Prioritize updates that would increase seating and create easier access. These changes generally give the best return on investment for a restaurant remodel. 

Smart Restaurant Remodeling Ideas

Restaurant Remodeling Idea Using Bright ColorsFind Simple Fixes

Remodeling your restaurant doesn’t have to mean shelling out for brand new furnishings. You can save a lot of money by working with what you’ve got, using restaurant renovation ideas like these:

  • Paint, stain or reupholster current chairs to give them new life.
  • Switch out light fixtures for something that fits your new look. 
  • Refinish and seal existing table tops to remove signs of wear.
  • Bypass costly décor by painting stenciled images directly onto walls.
  • Paint or use stick-on tiles to revamp the front counter or register area.
  • Collaborate with local artists to find paintings for display that customers can buy.
  • Update hardware like door knobs and any decorative nails embellishing your banquettes.

Don’t Forget the Exterior

Your storefront gives potential customers their first impression of your business. It should convey what people can expect at your restaurant and make them excited to step inside. So, add some exterior updates to your remodel. Ask yourself:

  • Does your landscaping need a little love? Some carefully selected flowers or shrubs can create a much more welcoming atmosphere.
  • Is there room to add outdoor seating? Depending on your location, a pleasant outdoor dining area can mean a significant uptick in spring and summer sales.
  • Are your restaurant’s dumpsters hidden from view? If not, consider building a dumpster corral so your property looks clean and inviting.
  • Is it time for a power wash? A simple, inexpensive deep clean makes your siding and awnings look brand new.
  • Could your door make a bigger statement? Painting your front door a color that contrasts with the rest of the exterior can help draw the eyes of passersby. 

Renovate Your Way to a Busier Restaurant

With these restaurant renovation ideas, you’ll be able to plan a redesign that will keep your regulars happy, appeal to new customers and contribute to a better bottom line. Combined with mouthwatering food and outstanding service, remodeling your restaurant can help you stay competitive for years to come. 

Looking for more efficient ways to run your restaurant when you reopen? Check out our roundup of the best restaurant management apps.