Facility Considerations For The Aspiring Restaurateur

As an aspiring restaurateur, you’ve no doubt already heard that it’s all about “location, location, location.” Where you establish yourself will have a lot to do with how much success your business will enjoy. If you are relying on strong pedestrian traffic, consider whether or not nearby businesses will generate foot traffic for you. You may encounter unusually restrictive ordinances that make an otherwise secure site less than ideal, such as limitations on the hours of the day that trucks can legally load or unload. The site should provide convenient, adequate parking as well as easy access for customers. Neighboring businesses may influence your store’s volume, and their presence can work for you or against you. Check with the local planning board to see if anything is planned for the future that could affect your business, such as additional buildings nearby or road construction.

Your Dining Area

Layout and design are also major factors in the success of a restaurant. You need to take into account the size, layout, and flow of the dining room, kitchen space, storage space, and office. Typically, the dining area accounts for the majority of the space in a restaurant. This is where you’ll be making the bulk of your money, and it’s also a makes up a large part of your image, so don’t cut corners when designing your dining room. While the design and layout will lean heavily on the concept of your restaurant, try to keep things as flexible as possible. For example, to accommodate the different groups of customers, use tables for two that can be pushed together in areas where there is ample floor space. This gives you flexibility in accommodating both small and large parties in the same space, without impacting customers’ and servers’ ability to move about comfortably.

Your Production Areas

Too often, the production area in a restaurant is inefficiently designed. Arrange your food production area so that everything is just a few steps away from the cook. Your design should also allow for two or more cooks to be able to work side by side during your busiest hours. You must keep in mind that a facility has to have state approved plans, and they may need to be plans prepared by an architect or engineer. You should contact the local or state department of commerce building inspector to determine if you need a state-approved plan. Also, check with your local municipality to be sure the property is zoned for a food service facility. But as you navigate the state mandates, keep a keen focus on the flow of your layout and where people will be moving about. Ensure that your servers don’t have to cross production paths, for example.

Your Plumbing

It is next vital to put some thought into facility planning for the different areas of your restaurant. There are significant plumbing considerations in the kitchen area, and almost anything going wrong with your plumbing can cause at least a temporary closure of your restaurant. Several different types of sinks are needed for utensil washing, hand washing, or utilities. Many facilities will require a sink to allow for pre-washing. A commercial dishwasher and a prewash sink may be installed instead of the three or four compartment sink. Handwash sink faucets must be foot, knee, or wrist-operated and are required adjacent to the utensil wash sinks or dishwasher. They are also needed in all food preparation areas. All sinks must be provided with hot and cold water under pressure through a mixing valve faucet. All new restaurants must have a utility or mop sink. An air-gapped food preparation sink must be provided if you need to wash fruit and vegetables, pre-chill hot foods, or to quick thaw foods under running water.

Sewage and disposal are another consideration. Depending on the food you are cooking, a grease interceptor may need to be provided. Also, facilities on the public sewer will require an interior or exterior interceptor and all private sewage systems require an exterior grease interceptor. Wells and septic systems must be designed to code. For new constructions, contact a licensed plumber and licensed well driller and be sure the plumber is informed about the future kitchen and seating expansion plans so he can size the septic system accordingly: this will avoid unnecessary expenses in the future. Your plumbing plans must be approved, and can be checked and installed by a licensed organization like A1 Service Plumbing in Orlando.

Restrooms are another important consideration. Public restrooms must be provided, and the number of fixtures in each restroom depends on the seating capacity of the restaurant. For example, restaurants that have seating for 15 or less need only provide a single unisex restroom. All restroom fixtures must be commercial and restrooms must be handicap accessible. Customer restrooms must be located near the customer area, and doors cannot open into any food preparation, storage, or serving area. An employee restroom may be required for walk-up or food court facilities, and all restrooms must have exhaust.

Inspections and Permits

Finally, food service facilities must have a permit issued by the health department before opening for business. The permit must be posted for public view. Each restaurant must employ a state certified restaurant operator or manager. The certification must be displayed for the customers to see. The health department will review your plans and give suggestions for changes need to meet codes. A pre-inspection is conducted before the date your facility opens. The application for a permit is completed and submitted to the health department. Regular inspections are completed annually or as often as necessary to ensure standards are maintained. Violations that are an immediate danger to public health must be corrected immediately. You can see there are many considerations to bear in mind if you are planning to start a restaurant. Failure to maintain the proper standards and to meet the codes will be costly down the track. If your premises is closed following an inspection, there will be a loss of revenue and possible fines.

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