The success of a restaurant does not simply depend on food and service — it starts as early as the construction and design of any establishment. Smart restaurateurs partner with a professional construction and design team with the right experience, know-how, and communicative philosophy. Choosing the right construction partner can make or break your restaurant’s chance at success.
Front-of-House vs. Back-of-House
A restaurant has two important parts: the front of house (FOH) and back of house (BOH). For a restaurant to flourish, both FOH and BOH should work together to give workers and customers a positive experience. Each section has different functions essential for the smooth and efficient flow of your day-to-day operation. Understanding the difference between FOH and BOH is an important concept — especially in the hospitality industry.
- Front of House – The FOH is the part of a restaurant where employees interact with guests. Employees working in the FOH should be clean, have a professional look, and exhibit a welcoming demeanour. These employees include:
- Food runners
- Floor managers
- Bus team
The FOH is also the area where you can establish the theme of your restaurant:
- Entryway – Create a solid first impression as soon as customers walk in the door. The entrance should engage the customer and make your branding and image clear. Create a natural flow that leads guests to other areas. Keep the entryway clean at all times.
- Waiting Area – The waiting area should be comfortable and spacious to accommodate any guests who need to wait before seating.
- Host/Hostess Station – Make the hostess station visible. Locate it strategically where customers can immediately see who’s ready to assist them.
- Bar – Make the bar as welcoming as the dining area. Guests should be able to see a visible display of the liquor and wine you have available. If you have taps, a chalkboard with a list of the latest offerings is useful for customers.
- Dining Room – The dining room construction should embody the concept of your restaurant. Select a design that establishes a natural flow from room to room, to allow servers and customers to maneuver easily.
- Restroom – Surprisingly, the condition of the restroom can radically influence guest experience. Install modern fixtures and tiles to enhance aesthetics; keep the area clean and well-stocked, and make repairs as necessary.
- Back of House – This part of the restaurant acts as the central command centre for food production. It is where staff prepare, cook, and plate entrees, appetizers, and desserts before serving them to customers in the dining area. Also, it can be the location where managers and employees perform administrative work. BOH staff include:
- Sous chef
- Line cook
- Prep cook
The back of house is where food safety and sanitation are considered job #1. Here are the common areas covered by the BOH:
- Kitchen – Considered the largest part of the BOH, the kitchen is divided into smaller sections (e.g. food storage, preparation, cooking areas, holding areas, sanitation and dishwashing areas). Proper kitchen layout plays a crucial role in the efficient flow of operations.
- Employee Area – The employee area is where staff store their belongings, eat their meals, take breaks while on shift, check schedules, and read notices from owners and managers.
- Office – This small area provides managers and supervisors a place to do administrative work away from the food preparation areas and dining room.
Restaurant construction is vastly different from many commercial construction projects. Make sure to hire a strong team to handle the various design challenges as well as food and safety regulations.
How to Have a Successful Restaurant Construction
There are a number of factors involved. Hiring a strong design team and excellent contractors who know how to apply for the appropriate permits and build to code is the first step toward success.
- Intricacies of Mechanical Infrastructure
Food storage and safety are paramount for any restaurant. The BOH houses:
- Maintenance facilities
Regardless of the size, commercial kitchens must have a proper plumbing system (water, waste, gas lines). Pipes need to be installed properly before the building floors and walls. The construction team must have a strong design and ability to build the mechanical system without using landmarks as a guideline. Paying close attention to the mechanical roughs helps the build team determine the right position for commercial kitchen equipment and enables them to access mechanical points through the floors and walls.
Restaurant construction involves strict, scheduled inspections. Whether your restaurant is a ground-up new build or an interior renovation, the whole MEP (mechanical, electrical, or plumbing) inspections of these areas will be necessary:
- Water device backflow
- Mechanical lines
Hire a professional restaurant contractor who is knowledgeable about the inspection requirements. S/he must oversee overall construction timelines and planning, and manage all inspection logistics. Expertise in restaurant building allows your contracting team to identify potential problems and correct them before an inspector arrives at the site.
The flexibility and creativity of your restaurant contractor enables them to handle any issues and prevent delays.
- A Project within a Project?
Differences between FOH and BOH means that your builders and contractors must understand how to build multiple aspects of your restaurant simultaneously. The commercial kitchen is a huge part of the design and build. However, there are additional complexities (e.g. cook line layout, stations, mechanicals, flooring finishes and walls). All this must be considered even as the dining room and bar area are constructed.
That said, the FOH/bar area has its own unique intricacies and requirements (power, water, beverage lines). Since both the dining room and bar are included in the FOH, construction should coordinate their millwork and furnishings.
A professional restaurant contractor is able to efficiently handle and coordinate different requirements and complexities for these two different zones. Partnering with a contractor who is well-versed in restaurant or food service builds offers peace of mind. Work with a team familiar with any potential challenges or obstacles, and who know how to avoid them.
PT General Contractor Inc. is a fully-insured company that’s served Scarborough and the GTA since 1999. Trust us to realize your restaurant construction dreams. For a professional restaurant builder in Toronto, call (416) 757-9100 to get a free estimate.