Did somebody say remodel?
You’ve been incubating this idea for months, maybe years: the great commercial kitchen remodel. Your kitchen staff has been asking for it, your front of house staff is dreading it and your banker has a smile on her face because she just made this month’s business loan goal because of you. Before you wrestle the remodel monster, read through the combined wisdom of all of us at 24/7 Restaurant Parts have gathered from our customers over the years. It could save you time, money and grief.
Maybe it’s not an all or nothing situation
This might come as a surprise to you, but construction projects don’t always hit their target completion date. Many pieces have to fit perfectly and your contractor isn’t in control of all them. Before posting the “Closed for remodeling” sign, talk to your contractor to determine whether phased construction is possible – basically, completing a chunk at a time. This usually isn’t an option for very small commercial kitchens and can cost more than a complete kitchen shutdown project, but when you add the money you’re losing by being closed for an extended period of time, the employees you might lose while being closed and the overall cost of the project, you might still come out ahead with phased construction.
One more permit, please!
It’s not just the building inspector, fire marshal and health department who sign off on new construction or renovation anymore. These days, plans for any renovation project are subject to approval by your state’s Department of Homeland Security. Your contractor should know the process, but the wait time can be lengthy and should be factored in to your overall schedule.
Move it out!
If you’re keeping some or all of your appliances, consider storing them offsite. The more crowded a construction area is, the higher the risk of damaging valuable property. Reserve a storage unit for longer than you think you’ll need it (see section about missed completion dates above). It’s better to pay for an extra month of storage than to have to find a place for your property because your unit has been promised to someone else. If you plan to install new appliances, an auction is a quicker way to sell inventory than a Craigslist ad; one day and it’s done.
You’re [not really] fired
If you’re completely shutting down for renovation, talk to your state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Depending on the duration of your renovation, you may be required to lay off your employees. You know the closure is only temporary and your employees know that, too. But just how long is temporary? Some employees may qualify for unemployment benefits and some employees may need to find a temporary job. Being supportive of your staff through the renovations process pays off when the best of them punch in at your grand re-opening.
No sugar coating here; a commercial kitchen remodel is one of the toughest things you’ll live through as a business owner. As in most big projects, careful planning and attention to detail make the road ahead smoother. If the time has come to hatch your remodel plan, organize well and make it happen!