In the United States alone, there are nearly 1 million restaurants, each trying hard to
differentiate itself from the next. Not an easy task. In fact, there are so many considerations
when it comes to launching a new concept—from branding (your biggest concern) right on
down to the silverware. And believe it or not, there are million-dollar corporations just winging
it, wanting to build ﬁrst and ask questions later. Bad idea. Here, a few proven restaurant design
methodologies relevant both for the mom-and-pop start-up as well as the multi-national mega
chain pursuing renovations and growth.
RESTAURANT DESIGN BUDGETS
Starbucks has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to perfect what we see today in its latest
restaurant prototype. It’s wishful thinking to think it could be duplicated for the cost of what
you could build a single unit today. But many companies think this way. To be successful, you
must consider the “soft” costs of development. Mega chains, like Darden, can afford sevenﬁgure salaried executive vice presidents and teams of hundreds working on a new concept.
It’s believed well over $10m (“soft” costs) was spent developing just the prototype plans for its
heralded Season’s 52 concept. Darden is the world’s most successful casual dining restaurant
chain, so it’s fair to think they weren’t just burning money with their investment.
Can a new prototype be created for less than $10m? Of course. However, it’s less likely that
the next billion-dollar brand can be conceived for less than the cost of opening a single unit.
At a minimum, you can expect to spend a lot more in the years to come correcting the
mistakes of the under-funded prototype. There’s a saying, “Measure twice and cut once.”