How Much Does It cost to start a restaurant in vancouver?

Wondering about the cost of starting a restaurant in Vancouver? With over 15 years of experience helping restaurants get started, we have seen it all. While each client has their own unique story and circumstances, when it comes to budgeting, there's a pattern in the financial hiccups many encounter along the way.

So why should you trust a contracting company about restaurant budgeting? To put it simply, it's in our best interest to make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to set a realistic budget for your project as well as help you plan out the entire process in a way that best avoids any potential future budgeting surprises. At the end of the day, if inexperience or carelessness in budgeting results in getting to the building stage without enough funds to actually build the project, well then that’s not good for our business either.

Sushi Mahana Restaurant Interior
Mercury Contracting, building under construction

Those Pesky Unknown Costs

Restaurant construction is not just about building costs, a standard commercial construction/renovation project requires a multidisciplinary team. From the Architect, Structural Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer to the legal permitting fees, it’s common for new restaurant owners to overlook the cost of each of these services, instead only focusing on how much the build will cost.

Things like lease payments while you wait for permits, or cash needed for those all-important trial runs and training sessions, can also really bump up your initial outlay. If this is your first time opening a restaurant, you will soon find out that the true cost is more than just paying for design and construction. It’s important to map out each step of the building process and identify all the potentially overlooked costs because they can add up quickly. This highlights why a solid financial plan is key.

Local Laws Can Trip You Up

Every area in Metro Vancouver, from Vancouver itself to Burnaby, Richmond, and Surrey, has its own set of rules. There are 26 different municipalities in the Lower Mainland, and 26 different ways to submit to get your project approved. Not getting the lowdown on these can slow you down and even cost you more money to fix things up.

A common hidden cost that can add up quickly is lease payments on your rental unit while permits are being applied for. It’s not enough just to understand what to do when it comes to permits, but also how long it can take even when you do everything right.

Milltown Restaurant, Richmond BC
Bjornbar Coquitlam, Restaurant/Bakery Interior

Design Dreams vs. Budget Realities

Rushing into the design phase without a set budget is like heading into a storm without an umbrella. It’s so easy to fall in love with a design that your wallet just can’t handle. Knowing your budget inside out from the start helps keep everything on track. This is where it becomes essential to work with a contractor during the design phase, but not just any contractor, a contactor that has the experience with restaurants and has been through it successfully.

It’s the contracting company that will end up having to give you a quote for your proposed design, and we have seen far too many restaurants go through an entire design process only to find out that their design falls outside of their budget. Avoid any potential redesigns by having your designer work with the contractor from the very beginning.

Why You Should Chat With a Builder Early

A good builder should have elements of a great consultant. They should know your business and fill in the gaps of what you need to open your business. It’s not just about increased building efficiency, but also all the connections we can help make for you within the local restaurant industry. 

Skipping a chat with a builder early on is a missed opportunity. They’re the ones who know all about the practical bits, like where to get the best materials and equipment without blowing your budget. Getting them involved from the get-go can save you from a lot of headaches later. When meeting with a contractor, find ones that you can talk design ideas with. A good contractor will have an understanding of the latest materials and building techniques and will be able to recommend methods to build your restaurant most cost-effectively.

Mexican Restaurant interior
Zaatar W. Zeit Restaurant Interior, Downtown Vancouver

Budgeting for the "What Ifs"

Unexpected stuff is bound to pop up, especially when you’re building and designing a restaurant. Not planning for these surprises can push your budget over the edge, especially when projects drag on longer than expected. Any plan without a realistic emergency fund is a bad plan. Even the best contractors can’t guarantee an entire build without any roadblocks or speed bumps. It’s important to account for the unexpected so that if there is a sudden budget increase, you don't run out of money and have to shut the entire project down.

Your Budget is Our Budget

Tackling the financial side of opening a restaurant in Vancouver is no small feat. But here’s the good news - you don’t have to go it alone. At Mercury Contracting, we’re more than just builders. We’re your sidekick through the whole process, from that initial dream all the way to a packed opening night. We're here to make sure everything runs as smooth as your signature gravy, helping your restaurant not just open, but truly thrive in Vancouver’s exciting food scene.

Mercury Contracting Team Photo
BjornBar Restaurant

The Mercury Contracting Advantage

We consider ourselves as much consultants as we do contractors. We work with the entrepreneur or operator and use our decades of business and building experience to drive a much value as we can for your new location. The restaurant business is hard, and we want you to succeed. Let us help you do that.