Before You Start A Restaurant- 3 Tips From A Design Professional

This week we had the opportunity to sit down with one of Spokane Restaurant Equipment’s resident designers, Adrienne Tomasi. Adrienne has been designing commercial kitchens for better than 20 years. She is as passionate about restaurant design as she is prolific. In fact, if you’re a local of the Pacific Northwest and have been out to eat in the past 5 years, there is a good chance your food was made in a kitchen designed by Adrienne.

With so much experience helping local chefs and entrepreneurs create the restaurant of their dreams, we had one simple question for her. What advice would you give to anyone who was about to start their own restaurant? Here is what she said:

Have a basic concept of what you want.

The first question Adrienne asks her clients during the initial consultation is, “What is your dream?”  Some clients come into the initial consultation with everything laid out in advance. Others only have a very loose idea of the type of restaurant they want to open. No matter where clients choose to begin, Adrienne is able to help. She helps clients clearly define their hopes and goals. However, she recommends thinking through the following before meeting with a designer:

Concept- What type of restaurant is it? Are you going to open a Classic American Diner? Italian Style Pizzeria? Fine French Cuisine? Bagel Shop? Nailing down the concept is a huge first step in getting your restaurant off the ground.

Menu- Once you have your concept, you can start thinking about what food you are going to serve. Detail is important here, because it will affect what type of equipment you need in your kitchen. For example, are you a pizza place? Are you going to be making your own dough? You’re probably going to need both a mixer and a dough press. You’ll have to reserve floor and/or counter space for this equipment.

Style of Service- Few things affect your restaurant like how you plan to get the food from your kitchen to the customers. Are you planning on full sit down service? Fast Food? Take-out and delivery? Each service style requires a different kitchen layout to be truly effective. Be sure to think about this before you start buying equipment and setting up your kitchen.

Function, Efficiency, and Flow

This is Adrienne’s mantra through the entire design process.  You will frequently hear Adrienne tell her clients, “It doesn’t matter how good the food is if you can’t get it to your customers.” She urges all would-be restaurant owners to think through the entire cooking and delivery process. How do supplies come into the kitchen? Where is food stored? How close is storage to the prepping area? Is it convenient to move from the cooking area to the delivery area? How many steps do cooks to get to refrigeration? A few unnecessary steps in any direction can cost your cooks valuable time over the course of even a single shift. That means a lot of wasted money to you.


Commercial Kitchen A commercial kitchen should focus on function, efficiency, and flow.

Do You Really Have the Time To Design Your Own Kitchen? (And Do It Correctly)

Because restaurant owners must do so much, they often feel like they have to do it all. But, when it comes to your kitchen’s design and functionality, it’s important to ask, “Do you really have time to research this and do it correctly?” Remember that designing your kitchen poorly can keep you out of code compliance, make your kitchen inefficient or dangerous, cost you thousands of dollars in purchasing bad or wrong equipment, waste valuable time you could be spending on other important tasks, and more.

Adrienne highly recommends delegating the design of your kitchen to a restaurant design specialist. Unlike an architect, who is more of a generalist, a professional commercial kitchen specialist knows the restaurant industry inside and out. Here is a very short list of the advantages of working with a specialist:

  • They can ensure that you only purchase the equipment you need and that all equipment is appropriate for your business.
  • They can ensure that your kitchen is designed and built to code and that you will pass inspection.
  • They can work as a project manager, overseeing all the various contractors you may need (i.e. plumbers and electricians).
  • They can greatly improve your kitchen’s functionality and safety.
  • They can typically do all of this for a fraction of the cost of hiring an architect.

In short, working with a professional saves you time and money. And, it avoids the headache of doing it yourself. As a new restaurant owner, you have plenty of other important tasks to be doing instead.

You Are Ready to Start Your Own Restaurant?

We wish you good luck in this exciting adventure! If you need design services, Spokane Restaurant Equipment is here to help. We have been a trusted partner in restaurant design and equipment for over 40 years. To learn more about our design department click here.

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