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Build Out Your Bistro: How to Pick a Restaurant Construction Company

jackhammerOwning a restaurant and becoming a restauranteur is a dream of many. But before you make people happy one bite at a time, you have to get the restaurant built.

If your restaurant plans are in the final stages and all you need is a contractor, the work is not done yet.

In this post, we’ll share some tips on how to find the right restaurant construction company.

Take Your Time with the Selection Process

Finding the right contractor for your restaurant will require a lot of research on your part. You shouldn’t settle for the first construction company you find in the yellow pages.

Nowadays, there are many ways to check the legitimacy of a construction company.

If you’re already in the business, then you might have many connections that can refer you to a contractor. You can ask your suppliers or fellow restauranteurs for a reputable contractor.

Word of mouth is still a powerful thing.

Although getting a contractor referred to you is an option, this might not work for everyone. Always come up with some options on your own before you settle for a contractor.

Take your search online and search for construction companies that specialize in restaurants. Not all commercial contractors have the expertise to build a restaurant.

Most businesses have a website these days, so make sure you check theirs out and look through their previous projects. If they don’t have a website to show their projects, you might want to steer clear of them.

Or openly talk to them about why they don’t have one. But, a professional and legitimate construction company will most likely have a website.

You Need to Prepare The Materials Before the Meeting

Once you weed out construction companies and you have a few choices, you have to prepare for the initial meeting.

A restaurant construction project is a bit more tricky than any other type of construction project.

For example, do you really want a big kitchen and a smaller dining area? Probably not. You want to build a decent size kitchen and have a larger dining space so you can maximize on revenue.

On top of that, you should examine current dining trends to determine what people are looking for in a restaurant. Are they turned off by big restaurant chains? Do they want a restaurant that sources their ingredients locally?

Keep all these things in mind before your meeting with potential contractors.

Before the meeting, you should bring in your floor plan materials as well as an equipment list. You could send these to them beforehand, so they have everything they need before the first meeting.

It might also help them make a better pitch if they know what you’re looking for.

Compare Contractors & Estimates

Yes, picking a contractor that fits your budget is very important, but it shouldn’t be the only deciding factor.

Check for chemistry and rapport when you meet with the contractors. Do you like how they treat you? Do they respect your vision?

Are they communicating with you in a way you understand? Keep in mind you’ll be working with them for several months. So, if you don’t have chemistry, the professional relationship might not work.

Now that you’ve sorted that out, it’s time to pay attention to the estimates.

Make sure you ask important questions about the estimates. Ask them to break down each cost so you can reference and compare others.

You need to look at an estimate in detail to see what you’re actually getting. Looking at the overall total won’t help you with the bigger picture.

Some contractors might be cheaper, but they could be using lower quality materials.

The Contractor Pays Attention to the Compliances

While most commercial construction projects require you to have a number of permits, restaurant construction projects are a bit riskier.

Restaurants have to adhere to health codes, safety, and be ADA Compliant. They need to have the appropriate parking and entrance accessibility for people with disabilities.

You must comply with the local health department and be on good standing with the fire marshall.

Restaurant projects also require the kitchen to have specific mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP).

The restaurant construction company you select for this project must know all about these requirements. They should know the difference between “front of house” construction and “back of house.”

If you want to know how important compliance is to the contractor, you should quiz them a little bit. But in order to do that, you must be knowledgeable about the subject.

Once the contractor knows what your expectations are, it will keep them on their toes.

Do a Background Check on the Top Choices

After you’ve selected a lucky few contractors, it’s time you perform a background check on all of them.

Depending on the area where you live, contractors and builders are required to have specific licenses and permits. Make sure your potential contractors are up to code with all of their licenses with the specific local authorities.

Check to see if their licenses and permits have ever been revoked or suspended. Also, check to see if they’re insured. The contractor you choose should be insured to protect both of you in the event of a liability.

Check Their References

The last thing you should do is check their references personally. They shouldn’t be opposed to this if they’re proud of their work.

Call a few restaurant owners that have worked with them in the past and ask them about their experience with the contractor.

If they have anything negative to say, ask them to elaborate more on the issue. Also, asked them how the contractor handled the situation.

You can also check some online reviews, such as Yelp or Google, as another point of reference.

Make Your Restaurant Construction Easy

Picking a restaurant construction company might seem like a long and difficult process, but you’ll be glad you did your homework.

Select a contractor that has experience in the industry, is concerned about the compliances, and is happy to share their past work.

For more building tips, check out this section of our blog.

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