Space Dynamics: Plan Layout and Details with your Menu in Mind Make a Difference

Header_Tip4From Tip 1 – We created your Brand Experience
From Tip 2 – We learned about your Customers
From Tip 3 – We explored your identity
Now that you have laid the ground work with your brand, customer research, and identity, you are ready to create your plan.  Your menu has been created – according to your brand and customer and you will need this in order to select the appropriate kitchen equipment. Also, your research of other cafes and dining experiences provides you a good idea of seat counts which is comfortable for customers. In future Tips we will then check the plan against your Performa forecasts. Think of creating a plan at this time as space planning to provide you a good sense of space size, flow, equipment layout, and locational attributes that you will need to create a sound business plan, gather construction costs, understand your infrastructure needs (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing), and create a reasonable schedule for opening.
The first step in laying out a plan is to hire an architect or designer experienced in café and restaurant permitting and design. During this space planning phase, code and other land use issues should be integrated into the plan in order to get a true space size.    Restrooms, exit pathways, accessibility, furniture and casework clearances, and other code variables will all be integrated in order to illustrate for you a reasonable space plan flow and square footage. Having this plan will also provide a potential landlord the assurance that you are a confident and carefully planned café operator – thus providing potentially more negotiating power during the lease negotiation process.
The second step is to now take your plan to a licensed and experienced contractor with café or restaurant references. Having this experience will provide you a sound budget and the assurance that during construction, they are able to pass all inspections by Building Dept. officials. An experienced café architect and designer can provide the contractor allowances and assumptions in which to provide reasonable pricing for budgeting. Asking the contractor to provide bids for different elements such as flooring, lighting, or casework – will provide a range in costs. It is not always the lowest price that is best as there may be items left out of the pricing. Always compare apples with apples to insure you are looking at all assumptions in the pricing. You can ask contractors to have an open book policy allowing you to review all of their subcontractor pricing and invoices. The contractor will charge a profit, overhead, and management fees for their services – and they are well worth those services! Along with the plan, you will have a very preliminary budget in which to negotiate tenant allowances with a landlord and estimate your capital costs for your Performa and Start-up costs.
The third and last step is the scheduling. Working with the contractor, the architect, and your broker (the tenant broker for your space that is negotiating for you), you will create a schedule, based on your plan, final design time, material lead-times, permit preparation and city permitting times, and construction build-out time. Having a sound schedule allows you to plan your new café, negotiate a reasonable lease start date (where you are not under construction while you are paying rent), and possibly negotiate some free rent as well.
Having a well thought out space plan is the basis for lease and space negotiations and site selection, as well as, budget and scheduling decisions and discussions.
Our 10 Tips Jumpstart Café pocket books allow you to write your thoughts in one com­plete book­let and it also prompts ques­tions to con­sider.
Stay tuned every month for valu­able tips. Melanie Corey-Ferrini is the founder of Dynamikspace ( and offers ser­vices from con­sult­ing to full ser­vice café cre­ation.

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