Restaurant renovations can be profitable, increasing sales between 7% and 20% when done right.  A restaurant remodel can cost between $100,000 and $1 million, on average, but this is a major overhaul.

When restaurant remodel costs are this high, you have to worry about keeping the establishment closed for a long period of time. The larger the renovation, the more money that’s lost due to the restaurant being closed.

If you’re just starting your restaurant plan and want to begin somewhere, consider this key checklist:

restaurant plan

1. Devise a Plan

All of the remodeling tips in the world won’t be able to help your restaurant as much as your patrons will be able to help. Speak with your peers and customers, ask them what they believe needs renovating.

You can use a survey to help better understand what’s lacking or what’s liked about your establishment.

The plan should also adhere to your:

  • Target audience

  • Vision

  • Brand image

You may also want to consult with a brand management specialist that can help you create a final plan for your renovations.

2. Determine Your Budget

You have your “master plan,” but now it’s time to come up with a budget. Determine if you’ll be:

  • Seeking a loan for the renovation

  • Using savings

You can call around and get estimates for the restaurant planning. Work with an architect, designer or contractor that is well-rated and able to determine the true costs of remodeling your space.

remodeling tips

3. Prioritize Key Issues and Plans

You have your budget, but you may realize that the costs of everything are too much for your complete vision to be brought to life. This is when you’ll want to jot down all of the items that you think are critical.

These are critical issues that many of your customers may have.

I recommend starting with the repairs and safety items on your list. If a roof is leaking, make the repair before expanding the waiting area and knocking down internal walls. Safety and critical repairs should always be the first items checked off on your remodeling checklist.

4. Consider All of the Latest Trends

Before your plan is put into action, you’ll also want to look at key design trends. You'll want to know the new trends in your sector of the industry and what your competitors are doing to lure in more customers.

These trends are often interior design trends, and they should be a part of the budget. Keep in mind that your projected budget is never your real budget. 

renovation planning

When Should You Renovate Your Restaurant?

Renovations occur ideally before the restaurant has been opened, but older restaurants will want remodeling advice, too. Remodeling is a massive undertaking, and you don’t want to interrupt your patrons with the sound of hammers and drills while they sip on wine.

The ideal time to renovate is during the low season because you’ll lose revenue while the business is closed.

If you have to renovate and keep your business open as much as possible, you may want to switch your operating hours. Perhaps the renovations will only occur during the morning hours before the lunch crowd comes in.

The renovations will occur at a much slower pace, but you’ll be able to keep customers coming in and lose less revenue as a result.

If the renovations don’t require the business to be closed, ensure that the areas being renovated are sectioned off so that visitors do not get injured. The issues with remaining open during this time are:

  • Lower profit margins

  • Lower quality of service

  • Less room for patrons

When you close during the renovation, you’ll be able to put all of your focus into it and offer the same level of customer service when your regulars are allowed back into the space.

But you do risk your customers going to competitors to try their food.

One way to avoid losing customers is to have a “grand reopening,” and use the remodel as a major selling point. Customers may come back to the restaurant to see the beautiful work that you’ve done.

Alerting customers to how long you expect to be closed will help. This should be done well in advance and not the day you’re closing. 

There is one school of thinking that can help you avoid a costly remodel in the future: businesses should always be under constant renovation.

If you follow this thought, you can upgrade and update the look of the establishment throughout the years rather than in a small timespan. When you do this, there’s less downtime and a continually-evolving restaurant.

restaurant renovation

5 Key Restaurant Remodeling Tips to Boost Business

Renovation planning should start with what’s known to work in the industry. And what’s known to work to bring in more customers and revive an aging business is:

  1. Update the colors. Your restaurant’s façade is very important, and if it’s old and dated, this is not going to leave a good lasting impression on your customers. Update the façade's colors so that they’re relevant and current. The right color will help increase your brand recognition by 80%, and the cost of an exterior remodel is typically between $2,500 and $3,000

  2. Furnishings. It’s tricky when trying to update your furnishings. You may update pieces that regulars really love about your business. But when tables, chairs and other pieces of furniture are worn or outdated, replacing them can provide a whole new look and feel for your business. Refinishing is one method of refurnishing that’s an option if you want to save money but still want an updated look.

  3. Flooring. Restaurant flooring is one that has changed a lot over the years. Choosing to go with an ageless wood or tile flooring is often the best option. Carpeting is not ideal because spills will lead to stains. You also have to consider that there’s a higher repair rate for carpets than tile or wood flooring. The costs may be extensive, but wood or tile will be durable and can be virtually indestructible as well.

  4. Lighting. I recently went to an old diner in town, and while I can see that there was once an appeal to going there, it feels more like a cafeteria than a diner. It's cold, too bright in some areas, and too dark in others. Lighting is a crucial part of an interior, and it’s this lighting that can change a patron’s mood in an instant. Ambient lighting may be good for some restaurants, or you may want recessed lighting which you can control with a dial. The space also needs to be properly illuminated to allow customers to properly navigate without the risk of falling.

  5. Bathrooms. A major expense but often a necessity. Bathroom remodels should be done to make an old, dated bathroom feel more inviting. There's nothing worse than going into a restaurant bathroom that is dated, dingy and takes away from the entire brand image that your restaurant is trying to portray.

If you continue remodeling your establishment throughout the years, you’ll be able to keep up with the times without being forced to close for long periods of time. When undergoing a major remodeling, make sure to weigh the costs, account for lost revenue and always assume that the costs will be much higher than what is actually budgeted out.

Don’t forget to use the remodel as a chance to promote your business. You can often be featured in a local newspaper, receive new customers and boost your brand all by remodeling your establishment.