Space Planning your Bar and Restaurant with RMD Group
What does space planning mean to you? Is it where the bar is located? How many TVs you may hang and where? The circulation pattern of the kitchen? Or how the customer may perceive the space? It can mean a lot of things and will raise many challenging questions as to the best utilization of a future bar and restaurant space.
To RMD Group space planning is about “…maximizing revenue per sq. ft. and creating the very best customer rich experience that keeps customers coming back again and again” according to Jason Mitchell, Director of RMD Consulting. Below you will find some interesting questions and ideas on what to consider when you are either evaluating the viability of a space for your hospitality venue, or if you’ve already acquired the space and are ready to start space planning. But first, let’s talk about where the Hospitality Consultant (also referred to as Bar and/or Restaurant Consultant) fits in to a bar and restaurant development project.
Often times hospitality consulting services are acquired late in the game. No joke. The first steps and budget allotment in the planning process usually include an architect, interior designer, and MEP (Mechanical, Electric, and Plumbing) professionals like mechanical engineers. And it’s industry practice that these project partners will have specific past experience working on bar and restaurant type projects. But what they are not, are hospitality operators.
Cue the hospitality consultant. Take RMD Group, for instance, who owns and operates a portfolio of bar, restaurant, and nightlife venues, and has done so for over 10 years. With over 500 employees, the company has grown at a significant pace, ground concept and developing some of downtown San Diego’s most notable bar, restaurant, and nightlife venues. In addition, the company also manages large scale operations like the entertainment and nightlife programming at San Diego’s Hard Rock Hotel.
As a boutique hospitality consulting company, RMD Group brings a level of service and value to their projects that many project partners cannot. “We’ve been in the trenches, had monumental successes, and unforeseen failures that have helped us become that much more knowledgeable in our industry”, says Jason Mitchell. The company even works on historic buildings which can offer up lots of surprises and project challenges. With this knowledge, the RMD Group has developed best practices and catalogued data that helps analyze existing and future businesses, and make smart decisions about them.
So what does the RMD Group Consulting division do for its clients when evaluating a space and beginning to plan its operational layout? They start with a SMART Plan that identifies focus areas critical to the success of bars and restaurants. Toss in all the past operator knowledge discussed above and they can be dynamic in the way they think about a space, and pivot when the project throws curve balls. Here are a few questions the company asks themselves when utilizing the SMART Plan and evaluating a space for their client’s projects:
- What is your concept? Who will you market it to and who is your ideal customer?
- How many square feet do you need to execute your concept in a space? How much is FOH (Front of House) vs. BOH (Back of House) and does that blend of sq. ft. work for your concept? Is it the best utilization of the space to maximize revenue?
- Have you financially modeled your concept in the space?
- How easy and comfortable is it for the customer to navigate the space?
- Based on the food and beverage offerings, and the customer experience the concept will offer, how many seats do you intend to have? Both bar and restaurant? Will there be community seating?
- Have you creatively utilized as many areas and sq. ft. as possible for seating?
- Do the number of seats align with the size of your kitchen and the sq. ft. needed for the proper equipment to execute the food program?
- Have you considered sight lines for all design installations and features, TVs, mill work, etc.?
- Where are your service areas located? Can they be cross-utilized?
- Have you considered how important the service bartender and station will be to the day-to-day operations in the restaurant? Is the service bartender set up for success?
- Does service have a clear circulation pattern to properly and comfortably service all customers?
- Does your staff have functional work spaces that allow them to maximize revenue? For instance, how far is the bartender’s POS (Point of Sale) from each well? How many steps do they take to access glassware?
- Do service lanes make functional sense and save time? Example: can servers access service stations, enter kitchen pick up at expo, or dump at dish pit if bussing all within a few seconds?
An analytic and hospitality guided approach to space planning will not only save time and money during construction, but will also generate more revenue for the business in the future. Asking questions like the ones above, and considering all possible customer experience and service scenarios will generate more revenue. Key expense areas like labor cost, that often drive cost over runs, are focus areas that can be better controlled with a well thought out SMART plan. Whether an existing operation or a new build, partnering with a hospitality consultant like RMD Group will give you access to the knowledge and questions needed to ensure that your space plan maximizes revenue per sq. ft., and ensures a memorable experience for your customers.
RMD Consulting is a bar, restaurant, nightlife, and hospitality consulting firm in San Diego, California. Are you a bar or restaurant owner? Do you want to be? Receive your complimentary strategy session today.
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