A Step-by-Step Guide to Successfully Design and Build Your Restaurant Construction Project

April 7th, 2022

Ready to Build Your Restaurant? Here's Some Helpful Steps to Guide You

As owners of fast food franchises, restaurant chains, coffee shops, high-end dining, and other food establishments start to dream up their menus and the ambiance they want for their dining experience, there are a lot of details that need to go into the functionality of their restaurant with scale and seating, kitchen equipment and set up, flow of foot traffic with your servers and traffic in your parking lot and if you have a drive-thru. This can also vary from full restaurant designs, to tenant build-outs, restaurant renovations and fast food remodels for various food establishments. Below is an outline of valuable construction process knowledge for a new restaurant construction project or renovation and what you should expect from your restaurant builder.


What to Expect During the Pre-construction Phase of Your Project?

During the site selection process, soil borings are performed by a geotechnical engineer and a geotechnical report is created from these borings. The geotechnical report will tell your construction manager what needs to happen below ground to make sure your building doesn’t settle or heave. If the site has sub-standard soils, the Geotech will provide options of ways to fix the soil and bring your site to a buildable standard. Some methods of fixing your soil include excavation of unsuitable materials and replacing them with buildable soils, wider spread footings, or stone columns to support the building.


Architectural and Design Services for Restaurants and Fine Dining

Our Marcus Architecture & Design Group (or the architect you are already working with) will coordinate with us as the contractor and you as the owner to develop a set of drawings that suits your wants and needs. This happens through a series of meetings between all the parties. At these preliminary design meetings all topics are discussed from budget to overall building size, to the needs and wants of the restaurant. This initial design period is meant to funnel all thoughts and ideas into a preliminary design to be reviewed again by the owner. We love this stage of design and always tell our clients ‘there are no bad ideas’ – this is the stage to dream and explore options.

After a preliminary design is agreed upon, we will develop and present a project budget. If the project is tracking “on budget” then we would proceed to engineering. If the project is over budget, we would then look for ways to “value engineer” the design and features to bring the budget to a suitable cost.

Once the design and preliminary budget are agreed upon, your restaurant project moves into full architectural design. This includes civil, structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering. As a restaurant general contractor, we work with all the engineering professionals and our design team (or your architect) to coordinate these drawings through weekly design progress meetings. This is done to make sure all aspects of your project work together and that nothing gets missed. Typically, during a restaurant build the kitchen equipment is purchased by the owner. At this point we work with the owner’s kitchen equipment supplier to make sure all the electrical and plumbing connections are where they need to be, and spaces are sized appropriately. Also, the architect will locate all the equipment on an equipment schedule and floor plan that will become part of the construction documents.


Getting Accurate Pricing for Your Construction Project

After the design process is complete, a set of construction documents which includes drawings and specifications are issued for construction. Our estimating department uses these drawings to put the project out for bid. Projects are typically put out to bid for 2-3 weeks, allowing subcontractors adequate time to price their scope of work and get any pricing for there specific materials. After all bids are received, a vetting process takes place to make sure all the bids are complete and to specification. After this process is complete, low compliant bidders are selected and entered in the project estimate. At this point the project estimate is complete and presented to the owner. Once the owner agrees to the pricing, the project is scheduled to start construction on your restaurant build.


The Ins and Outs of Commercial Building Permitting

After the design of your restaurant is complete, we work with the local jurisdiction on permitting. This includes, building permits, state plumbing plan review, and any other permitting required by your city, county, and state authorities. This can be done by the owners, but with permitting becoming more extensive, it is recommended to let our Marcus team guide you through the permitting process.

Before construction starts, each subcontractor is awarded a subcontract for their scope of work. This references the project schedule, drawings and specifications, and the cost of their scope of work. At this point subcontractors will order materials as required and shop drawings will be reviewed through the “submittal process.” Every subcontractor that arrives on our jobsite is required to follow Marcus’ safety procedures which meet or exceed OSHA requirements.


What is the Submittal Process in Construction?

Each subcontractor typically has several items that need to go through the submittal process. Most materials and sometimes install procedures need to be submitted to the general contractor and architect to be reviewed before materials can be ordered and work proceeds. This is done to ensure that the products are what the architect specified and/or the owner requested and meets code requirements. The submittal process starts once subcontracts are under contract and continues throughout the project. At the end of the project, owners will have a submittal log that shows what products were used and warranty information.

Transparent Communication Ensures a Successful Restaurant Construction Project

Once your restaurant project is under construction, weekly meetings are held to coordinate construction items such as scheduling, progress, material deliveries, and other required coordinated activities. These meetings are also used to update subcontractors and owners. Typically, these meetings are held onsite and are followed by a site walk through with the owners. We understand that not everyone is able to be present every week so Marcus Construction provides virtual meeting options along with distributing minutes for each meeting to keep each party in tune with the current status of the project.

After the weekly meeting is complete, owners walk the jobsite with the project team and can review progress, ask questions, and request changes as they see fit to improve usability and add features as allowable by the design. These changes in the design and building result in a change order. Kitchen equipment is typically installed towards the end of the construction schedule, and we find owners often want to install their equipment themselves as a cost savings measure – but this can certainly be done by our installation crews as well.

Once your project is near complete and able to be used for it’s intended purpose this is called “substantial completion.” At this point we move into punch list and closeout phase. Usually, a pre-punch list walk through takes place with the contractor, architect, and owner. After the walk through, a punch list is created and issued to subcontractors to complete or fix. This is 2-4 weeks long depending on the size of the project. After the punch list items are completed, a final walk through with the owner takes place to make sure all work is complete and to satisfaction. Finally, we then work with the local building official to get the final “Certificate of Occupancy.” After this is received your project moves into the warranty period. This typically lasts for one year and covers any defects in craftsmanship or material failure.


Marcus Construction has 65+ years of experience working with organizations in whatever way makes your project most successful. Whether that be the general contractor for your restaurant, senior living facility, or retail building construction project. Our focus is to work side-by-side and develop an approach that meets your needs, your design, your budget, and your timeline while delivering quality and safety that exceeds your expectations.


Are you a restaurant or franchise owner and need help designing and building your restaurant project? See firsthand how Marcus Construction has helped clients like Dairy Queen, Qdoba, Caribou Coffee, Domino’s and many more.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Successfully Design and Build Your Restaurant Construction Project

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