Designers see a restaurant empty and I see it full.

When building a restaurant – renovating an existing pace or starting from scratch – it is so important to build it from a customer’s perspective. Yes, it is important that the restaurant “look” nice; but it has to be built for the customer – it has to be easy to operate.

Too many times I have worked with owners who see their restaurant as their rec room rather than as a business. They worry more about what it looks like when it is empty rather than how it functions when it is full. It is this personal attachment to the business as a room in their home rather than as a business that makes the owner make bad decisions during construction.

I remember how I was when I opened my first restaurant; so I speak from experience. I wanted the physical plant to remain pristine when in fact if I was going to be successful, I would need thousands of customers sliding in and out of my booths week over week and that was going to take a toll on my physical plant. I should have wanted the plant to take a bit of a “kicking” as that meant I was making money. After 10 years the place had a certain charm because it was fully broken in and customers saw it for what it was – a restaurant that had seen more than its fair share of customers.

Yes, it is important that the business be “pleasing to the eye”; but more importantly every decision made by the owner regarding the set-up of the restaurant, has to be made with the customer’s comfort and ease in mind.

  • The bartender has to have ready access to his products and that is not for him but for his patrons – both customers and servers.
  • The server has to be able to reach his or her side station effortlessly.
  • The POS machine has to be close at hand.

Note: The owner has to understand how the facility is going to be used before the first customer walks in the door.

Let’s talk the bar for a moment. What is most important from a bartender’s perspective when it comes to delivering products and services to his customers?

  • The POS has to be at the ready.
  • The draft and pop machine has to be “right” there.
  • The fridges have to be a step away.

Think about it. If I can build a bar so the bartender has to make very few steps to do anything then I have made my customer’s experience better. Time is everything. Think of a cockpit in a jet aircraft. Does the pilot have to go anywhere to do anything flight related?

At the end of the day, it is more important that a restaurant be clean than pretty. After a few months the physical plant is going to be broken in. It is going to have scars and flaws. It is going to have character. It is no longer going to be new; instead it is going to be an operating business. What then is most important? It has to be easy to operate. It has to function well both from a customer’s point of view and from an employee’s point of view.

Paul Morgan, Plan2Profit, 1-844-752-6776