The construction of the restaurant the first detail for success

En un artículo publicado en la revista GestionRestaurantes.com I addressed the issue of optimal use of capacity in the restaurant and how it should be calculated.
At that time he believed that it was enough for gastronomic entrepreneurs to know this aspect, whose influence on the efficiency of the operations of the restaurant was of utmost importance. Today I understand that the boom that the world of tourism has taken and the uncontrollable opening of small, medium and large restaurants They demand that the subject be approached from another perspective, I mean, looking not only at the space, but also at other variables that must be considered when building a restaurant or adapt a room to function as such.
An important benchmark for any businessman who intends to invest in construction or adaptation of restaurants Ernst Neufert becomes one with one of his many literary contributions on the world of architecture and, in particular, with his work "The art of projecting in architecture", who dedicates an entire chapter to the architectural design of restaurants in its various modalities (independent, in hotels, trains and planes), in addition to exposing the architectural requirements for the construction of kitchens.
Although each country issues its own standards for the design and construction of gastronomic facilities, the fundamental axis of this article will be based on those considerations that such an important architect points out in his book, without neglecting those factors that inevitably result from the modernization of the industry. , the relationships with the environment and the changes that customers demand must be taken into consideration such as lighting, ventilation, electrical, sanitary, gas and sewer installations, the interior and exterior environment, air conditioning and soundproofing, as well as some aspects own related to the bar areas, kitchen, box and living room.
Taking as reference the famous architect, he states that the first thing to do before projecting a restaurant is to study the form of organization that is intended to be established with the owner of the premises, particularly the type of offer, quality and quantity of food to be offered, the system of services to be adopted (fixed menus, a la carte or self service) as well as the existence or not of dependents for the service.
It also indicates as an important requirement to know which audience the offer and carrying capacity aspirations. Neufert specifies these aspects to be able, together with the specialists, to plan the designs of the kitchen, the facilities of cold rooms, electrical, air conditioning and heating, as well as everything related to plumbing (plumbing). It also indicates that in correspondence with the environment where the restaurant The exterior image will depend.
Taking advantage of the extensive literature that the media make available to us, especially those that include those requirements that different countries demand in relation to the characteristics that the restaurants, I will address, in a very synthetic way, those elements that require special attention in this process of design, construction and commissioning of gastronomic facilities, because I consider that they constitute the arteries that guarantee the adequate flow of all processes, that take place inside and outside the restaurant and because they also ensure trust and guarantee, both for their owners and for their workers and customers.
Regardless of what public the offer is addressed to and the service hours that will be established, the restaurant as an installation will be made up of walls, ceiling, floor, doors, windows, hydraulic installations, as well as other elements that come to contribute to the comfort of the same and that they must meet certain requirements, which I will summarize at the end of this and whose main objective is to guarantee adequate hygiene, the safety of the personnel who transport and prepare food, as well as the guarantee that customers consume safe food and enjoy a cozy atmosphere.

The appearance: anteroom of the attraction

Quality service is no longer enough for a restaurant. The imposition of competencies suddenly arising from the proliferation of gastronomic activity as a business, and as the first alternative for entrepreneurs, forces to take into consideration other variables that contribute to the approach to the customer.
In this way, it is vital to compensate the exterior image with the interior and in turn with the service. Being able to attract the client by an external environment nuanced by other attractions than food, are attributes by which the client forms an image of the product / service without having previously tried it. In this sense, and in my modest opinion, elements that should be considered and studied when planning a restaurant in relation to the outer space and that I will express in the form of questions are:

Restaurant accessibility.

  • What ways will exist or be conceived so that the client can access the restaurant ?;
  • Will the road be properly paved ?;
  • Will there be sufficient road signs so that the client can arrive without difficulties ?;
  • Will there be public transportation with access to the area ?;
  • Will there be waiting areas for situations of sudden rains or other atmospheric phenomena ?;
  • Do the drainage areas work in such a way that after the rain, the access to the restaurant is free of accumulations of garbage and water?
  • What other attractions are there and how can I take advantage of them?
Landscapes, day view and night visual atmosphere: In correspondence with the area where the restaurant will be located:
  • Will there be gardens and will they be cared for and trimmed ?;
  • Will the parks in the area be properly maintained, with their painted benches and in good condition ?;
  • Will the colors of the restaurant harmonize with the colors of the rest of the area ?;
  • Are the surroundings of the restaurant illuminated ?;
  • Is my identification sign soberly designed and does it match the environment ?;
  • Are the law enforcement and security agencies accessing the area?

The interior aspect: a source of loyalty

As much as the exterior allows to attract or form an image in the client of what the service will be like, the interior aspect, or rather the elements that intervene, come to be as the finishing touch to that attraction process. Designing the setting of the premises, in correspondence with the type of service or theme chosen, should contribute to completing that image that has been formed in the client, however, some details that are important to me are the following:
  • Will natural light be used? If so, how to avoid the reflections of the sun through the windows, without having to use artificial means such as curtains, directly affect the client.
  • Will the electrical installations (in this case the luminaires) allow them to be manipulated independently, that is, will I be able to increase the intensity of light in one area, while in another will I be able to decrease them ?;
  • Will the ornamental plants be natural or artificial ?;
  • Can the air conditioning in the area, like the luminaires, be controlled by zones?

La distribución del local: Capacidad versus Capacidad

According to the criteria of experts, the space of a premises constitutes the most difficult element to measure, but at the same time it becomes the most important, since in addition to viewing the different areas of service and support for them, the possibilities must be considered. of expansion in operations, which in turn implies growth in machinery, equipment and furniture without interrupting or affecting the circulation of customers and service personnel.
According to what has been stated above, regardless of the size of the premises, it will have three mandatory areas: the food preparation, preparation and cooking area ( Kitchen), the beverage preparation and service area (Bar) and the consumption area (Lounge-Dining Room). Each one will occupy a surface inside the building that makes up the installation, which must be previously calculated and that is explained in the article to which it referred.
However, for these three areas to function properly, the spaces that the support areas will occupy must be estimated, which must meet certain requirements. Within these areas are the offices, warehouses, premises for the reception and repair of maintenance equipment, among others, and which ergonomically must also respond to the health and well-being of the personnel who work there. In my consideration, when making the distribution of the premises, regardless of the spatial measures, other aspects such as:
  • The area that corresponds to the storage, how far from the points of sale will it be and what means will be used to transport the goods?
  • Will the merchandise reception area for suppliers allow access to all types of vehicles?
  • Will there be ramps for warehouses, with or without mats, for unloading products?
  • Will the maintenance area have sufficient capacity for large teams to enter?
  • Will the offices be isolated from noise?
  • Will the sewage drain out of the service facilities, so that if an overflow occurs they do not affect the service?
  • Will the evacuation areas and emergency exits of personnel in the event of catastrophes be sufficient to take on the challenge of clients and workers at a time of maximum load?
As for the areas of kitchen and the lounge must be distributed in a logical way, where there is a flow from the moment of receipt of the goods to the moment of being served, avoiding the interbreeding of food (odors and flavors) and where the principle of march forward (food does not regress to an earlier stage). This aspect is important and is often considered but not fulfilled. It is important to note that these areas are not convenient to locate in basements.
In the same way, the area of ​​the Lounge - Dining room must be specially treated when distributing its space, fundamentally the main problems that I have been able to witness are associated with the location and the work space of the Bar.
A measure that is not consistently reflected in the literature is the size of this area. I have carried out some studies and they have allowed me to conclude that the bar must at least occupy a space of 5.5 meters long by 2.5 wide. These measurements are due to the fact that its center (sink or sink) generally occupies a space between 1.5 and 3 meters that should, ideally, be placed in the center, under the counter, and other machinery, such as refrigerators, ice, etc., as well as on top of it, you must have all the technological support and the necessary comfort for the bartender to carry out his duties.
Another element, and in which the bar also plays an important role, is the space for the lobby or waiting room, which must be equivalent to 10% of the dining room area. The questions associated with this topic are addressed to:
  • Will the restaurant lobby be linked to the bar area so that drinks can be produced while waiting for customers?
  • ¿El diseño del bar permitirá atender clientes por impulso (clientes de paso para adquirir bebidas enlatadas y cigarros), los clientes que esperan  y los que hacen uso del Salón – Comedor a la vez?
  • Will there be a neutral zone for the transit of customers who leave, those who enter and those who wait?
  • Will the sanitary facilities be designed so that there are no waiting times and that the clients of the salon can make use of them immediately without affecting the well-being of the clients who wait?
  • Is it possible to smoke in this area without smells being perceived in the dining room?
Muchos restaurants incorporan plataformas para la presentación de espectáculos durante el servicio. Estas plataformas deben ser de madera u otro material deslizante, pintadas de otro color diferente a los del local, de forma tal que pueda ser percibida por los clientes en su tránsito por las áreas del Salón – Comedor. En cuanto a los niveles de ruido se deben adoptar medidas que no afecten el medioambiente del Salón  – Comedor y el resto de las áreas de trabajo del restaurante. Con relación a este tema se deben cuestionar lo siguiente:
  • Where will the acoustic equipment be located: mixers, audio operator's workspace, speakers, etc.?
  • ¿Podrá ser retirada con facilidad esta plataforma en un momento de necesidad del espacio?; ¿Será desmontable para su traslado hacia otra zona?;  ¿Tendrá la capacidad para asumir grupos de grande formatos?
  • Doors and windows are sealed when closed to prevent noise leakage

The architecture of the restaurant: core aspects

As for the general characteristics that must be respected by architects and builders, as well as must be checked by the restaurant manager in the construction process, so that the operations can be carried out efficiently and the hygiene principles demanded by the activity are guaranteed. the following (I clarify that this is a reconciled summary of all those aspects that the different standards include in terms of architectural requirements of the restaurants). I only show those that are especially related to its construction. There are several requirements that are directly associated with hygiene and food preservation that you can consult in the regulations that your country issues for this purpose.
Floors:
  • They must be waterproof, non-absorbent, washable and non-slip.
  • Deben  estar libres de grietas
  • They will be characterized by their ease of cleaning and disinfection
  • They must have a sufficient slope so that when liquid spills occur they drain into the mouths of the drains
Walls:
  • They must be made of waterproof, absorbent and washable material
  • They must be smooth and without cracks up to a height of at least 1,5 m (Sanitary base).
  • Its union with the floors will be hermetic, firm and will have a sanitary bocel (Concave termination between walls with floors and ceilings)
Ceilings:
  • They will prevent the accumulation of dirt and the formation of molds.
  • They must be painted with hydrophobic paints of light colors and moderate brilliance.
  • They must facilitate cleaning and disinfection
  • False ceilings (if any) should be washable, sealed, and removable.
Windows:
  • Its features and design will prevent the accumulation of dirt.
  • Those that can be opened should be provided with insect proof grids, which should be easy to remove.
Doors:
  • They must have a smooth and non-absorbent surface, with automatic and tight closing
In addition to all the above, in the case of doors and windows, the dimensions established for the transit of personnel to the areas, as well as for the reception or removal of merchandise.
Dear reader:
Not everything is included in this article, here I only present some ideas that I consider should be taken into consideration when planning a restaurant. I am not an architect, but I am a gourmet and consultant and I have seen how small details attract great consequences. Both architect and businessman must join forces when planning a great project such as the construction of the restaurant. Neither will supplant the other, but both in communion will work so that the end result is the ideal, and then avoid embarrassing situations that can lead to the reform of the premises for breaches of regulations.
Un  último consejo: Always keep the building plans, they will allow you to project yourself into the future.
I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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