Are you looking to open a restaurant in the Vancouver area? Or are you a designer or other professional looking to work on a project to build or renovate a restaurant? We noticed that there isn’t yet a comprehensive guide to how to build a restaurant in the Vancouver area. So, we put together a blog series to provide professionals in our community with the answers they need.
Over the past 10 years, we’ve built over 50 food service and entertainment venues here in the Lower Mainland, and we’ve encountered almost all the challenges you can think of in building a new location.
We love building restaurants. They’re one of the most enjoyable things to do from a creative standpoint; you get to do really cool millwork and help engineer solutions to execute a designer’s ideas. Both the process and the finished product are incredibly fulfilling.
We want you to enjoy the process of building your restaurant. Our guide will help you to plan your project and select a team that can help make that happen.
We will be speaking strictly from the standpoint of construction building—not the steps that take place afterward, like assembling your culinary team. Those are steps that you will need to take care of separately.
We’d also like to note that as a contractor, we do not hold authority in the construction space. This is just an opinion piece based on our decade of experience of building restaurants in one of the most challenging and exciting locations to do so in North America.
Most of our customers are not from the construction industry, but rather from the restaurant industry. In fact, quite often, these customers initially hire a construction contractor to work on their projects, only to have their chosen contractor fall through. At that point, they find themselves scrambling to finish up their own projects as restaurant-contractors. And that is when they come to us.
Needless to say, if you are a prospective restaurant owner, your goal has probably never been to become a builder. You want to open the doors to your new venue and dive into what you are passionate about—serving customers delicious foods and beverages. The last thing you want to do is burn out your creative energy before you even open.
So, what is the best approach to make sure you get started on the right track with your project? There are three main options as you commence the planning stages for building a restaurant.
1. Call an architect. Architects are authoritative, understand building codes and regulations, and know how to get a project from start to finish.
2. Contact a designer. While designers tend to lack the engineering knowledge that architects have, they may still possess the experience and creative vision to assist you with your project—especially if they specialize in projects like yours.
3. Call a contractor first. The building contractor will ultimately be responsible for executing the vision of the designer or architect you work with.
Any of the three options above are viable ones, but we recommend calling a contractor first. Of course, being a contractor, we are biased. But we have a few very good reasons for making this recommendation that go beyond that bias:
First of all, contractors are the ones that are accountable to make your project a reality. We have to deliver it on time and on budget, and we have to achieve the result that you want.
Secondly, your relationship with your contractor will be the main one through the entire experience. Your architect or designer will be involved a lot during the planning stages, and will be checking in later. But when it comes to the day-to-day work involved with turning floor plans on paper into a real brick-and-mortar venue, it is the contractor you will be working closely with. It makes sense to establish that relationship at the outset and to build your project around and through it.
When restaurant owners contract us after a previous contractor failed, often the reason the project fell apart before had to do with a poorly established team. Building a restaurant is fundamentally about teamwork. Contractors with extensive restaurant experience in Vancouver bring you the advantage not only of knowledge and expertise, but also of connections.
At Mercury Contracting, we have developed strong professional relationships with local designers who understand the building codes, accessibility rules, fire codes and more for Vancouver restaurants.
We have established teams for restaurant equipment, for POS systems, for every other aspect of construction and design—in short, a virtual rolodex at your disposal. We can save you a ton of time and legwork selecting personnel and materials for your project—and we can streamline communications and task flow with every member of the team.
Additionally, we can answer questions about budgeting. If you have never built a restaurant before, you might not be sure what kinds of costs your project will entail. And if you did build a restaurant previously with a team that wasn’t fully prepared, that too could lead to inaccurate estimates with subsequent projects.
As a building contractor that has handled dozens of local projects with varying requirements, we have a solid feel for what kinds of costs you can expect to achieve your vision. We can also suggest modifications as needed to help you meet your budget.
Ultimately, the reality is that a lot of current and prospective restaurant owners go into their building projects under-prepared. They have big dreams, but may not understand the costs and complexities required to make those dreams happen.
So, before you embark on a project to build or renovate a restaurant, make sure that you are truly prepared for this undertaking. There is a good chance that it will be more costly and time-intensive than you expect, but the right team can help you to maximize your return on investment.
That is why it is worth it to take extra time to choose a team that you can trust to work efficiently together and be accountable to deliver the results you need. With that team, you will be able to plan and fund efficiently to build and open a successful restaurant that thousands of people will enjoy.