Frequently Asked Questions

Before you sign a lease for your new restaurant, here are few things to consider:

  • See if there is a healthy foot or car traffic that will ensure an equally healthy flow of clients to your restaurant.
  • Is there another point of attraction close to your restaurant, such as a park or a movie theater, that could send potential clients your way?
  • See if there are office buildings near by that can supply you with hungry lunch seekers in the early afternoon hours.
  • Make sure that the area is safe, since no one wants to fight crime whenever in the mood for grabbing a bite.
  • Make sure the restaurant location is visible and easy to access by that segment of the population that acts on impulse and wants to try a new restaurant on the spur of the moment.

Some other very important aspects to look at when selecting your restaurant or dessert shop location:

  • Competition. Make sure there is no restaurant similar to yours on a two-mile radius.
  • Mall versus street location. Do not choose a mall location if there is a similar type of restaurant in there already. Or you will be sharing the same clients.
  • Unless your location is in a walkable area such as a downtown of a large city, make sure you have a large enough parking area.
  • One way to save money is to look for a place that used to be a restaurant.
  • Know your numbers for this location and do a pro forma that allows you to take a glimpse into the financial future of your business. We share this in our blogs.
  • Before signing a lease, hire a designer to do a preliminary layout. It is better to invest in this type of services early than to realize the shortcomings of your new restaurant location when it is too late.

Read more on on how to select your restaurant or dessert shop location HERE

To make things a little bit easier, we came up with a 13-point checklist of what you need to do:

  1. Pick a solid concept.  Every restaurant needs to be built around a clear concept, whether this means a type of food, a drink you want to introduce and make famous, something that you are good at or something that is hot on the market. 
  2. Create a menu.  Having a well-thought and well-defined menu does not only serve its obvious purpose of offering your customers  some food options, but helps you answer a few business-related questions: How many employees do you need in order to cook and serve your food? How large does your space need to be? What type of kitchen equipment do you need? etc.
  3. Select a good location.  Your location can make or break your business, so give it a lot of thought.  See our answer above about selecting a good location for your future restaurant or dessert shop.
  4. Negotiate with landlords.  Landlords will be part of your life as a restaurant owner, so do yourself a favor and negotiate with them while you still have negotiating power.
  5. Crunch some numbers. Take your time and delve into all the details – location, main concept, expected revenue etc.
  6. Secure funds.  Your business plan will come in handy when you will start looking for funds. The thought you put into it and the way you present it will make a huge difference whether you try to convince your family, your bank or an investor that your business idea is worthy of support.
  7. Hire a design company or companies.  You may need at least three designers: a graphic designer, a restaurant designer and an architect. Alternatively, you can hire a company that can play all these roles at once and produce everything you need. Mindful Design Consulting is such a company that has been designing new restaurant brands for the last 10 years.
  8. Obtain all the necessary permits.
  9. Start marketing. Start telling everyone about your restaurant as soon as your branding materials are finished. Do not wait until your restaurant is ready to open its doors to start marketing your great idea. 
  10. Hire a contractor.  Once the design is finished, obtain estimates from contractors.
  11. Order equipment and furniture.  
  12. Hire Staff. 
  13. Enjoy your grand opening day!

Read more about opening a new restaurant or dessert shop HERE.

During your process of opening a new restaurant or a store, one of the things you’ll need to do is hire an interior designer or an architect. Once you have done it, you need to be aware of the process they will follow. Here is a description of the four phases you should expect them to take you through and how long each of them will take.  READ HERE.

Why do I need good branding for my restaurant or a store?  I already put something together myself… Sounds familiar? 

To the budget-minded owner of a new store or restaurant, it may seem that putting money and effort into branding is not a high priority. At most, branding is the cherry on the top – it makes for a good impression, but is of secondary importance. After all, a quality product is all you need. Right?

Wrong. Far from being a fancy detail, branding is essential for a business that wants to reach its true potential. Branding tells people who you are, makes them remember you, and creates the impression of a coherent business vision. Customers are attracted to businesses that have a clearly defined image and let them know exactly what they are about. Creating a brand is also important for you, as a business owner. It makes you look deep into how you want your business to be perceived and helps you come up with a cohesive vision and business strategy.  Read more about the reasons of why you need branding HERE.

One of the first questions you’ll want to answer when planning to open a store or a restaurant business is “How much will the construction of my space cost?” The answer depends on your particular space – its current state and where you want to take it from there. However, a rough estimate of your restaurant construction cost is possible and is exactly what our Tenant Improvement Calculator offers you.

Of course, your costs will depend on the size of your space, the products you choose and the designer and contractors you decide to employ. However, a tool like our calculator can help you start the planning process and even allow you to play with the numbers in order to see how you can better use your budget.

So, before you go ahead and start punching in numbers, here are a few things to consider, and a few major elements that drive the cost of a restaurant design project.  READ HERE.

When trying to design and open a store or restaurant, the best ideas are worth nothing if they are not implemented right. Similarly, the best implementation may end up in disaster if it drains your financial resources and leaves you in a precarious spot before you even start on your way as a business owner.

To help you with the complicated process of selecting a team that will assist you in designing and building your store or restaurant, we came up with a few tips.  READ HERE.

When opening a new business, you have to prove not only what you can do, but, most importantly, what you can do better than your competitors. Getting ahead of the competition is a monumental and never-ending task that requires you to employ every available tool. Here is a short three-item list of tried-and-true ways to make your business attractive to customers and increase your chances of success.  READ HERE.

 When working your way through all the stages of opening a store or restaurant, pay close attention to the design stage. The restaurant design process is an involved one that can easily stall or deviate unpredictably if your choice of a design company is not right, if deadlines are not met or if communication is less than perfect. 

If you had a problem with your design team in the past this will help to understand how to avoid delays and create a successful collaboration.  READ HERE.

Another one of the most common questions we hear from potential clients is: does my small food-related business need a grease trap?  In San Diego, as in many other cities, there are strict regulations regarding how much grease can be released into the city system. In order to prevent blockages of the sewer system due to accumulated grease and oils discharged from food facilities, many wastewater treatment agencies require the installation of grease traps or interceptors.  

That is why it is a good idea to always check with the local Wastewater Treatment Agency before starting to design your plumbing system, and find out what size your grease trap or interceptor needs to be. In San Diego, the FEWD (Food Establishment Wastewater Discharge) office handles all questions related to grease traps. If you are opening a new restaurant or remodeling an old food facility, you have to schedule an appointment with FEWD, sometimes a month ahead, to figure out your grease trap sizing and requirements.

While the requirements depend on the type of business you have and the products you offer, here are a few pointers (drawn from our own experience) related to small businesses such as restaurants, cafes, ice-cream stores and yogurt shops, that show you whether you need a grease trap or not.  READ HERE.

It is a question that all business owners have to face when planning the layout of their stores or restaurants. Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as we’d like. In California, the number of required restrooms is dictated by the California Plumbing Code, Table 2902.1. However, each county may have its own requirements summarized in their specific building code and that may deviate from the state requirements. Checking with your local Building Department is a mandatory step in order to find out whether any local codes apply to your business.

But things are not as simple as looking through the provided tables and finding out how many restrooms your business needs. There are specific calculations involved, and problems may arise if these are not done correctly. While, generally, your designer or architect can do these calculations for you, keep in mind that sometimes even contractors get confused when it comes to how many restrooms a particular space needs.

To give you an idea about how these calculations are done, here are the steps you should follow when determining how many restrooms your business should provide.  READ HERE.

If you are opening a restaurant, a café, a yogurt or ice-cream shop or any other food-related facility, there are a few things you need to know about Health Department requirements. In order to put your building plans into motion, you need, among other things, the approval of this agency. In San Diego, the Department of Environmental Health (the DEH or, simply, the Health Department) reviews your restaurant or café design drawings and determines if you are up to the latest health code.  

So what exactly are they looking for?

The main concern of the Health Department is public health, so anything that can make people sick or have any effect on their health when entering your establishment is reviewed and commented on. Here are a few things they are interested in and that often get overlooked by restaurant owners and designers when submitting for a food establishment health permit.  READ HERE.

Installing grease traps is a must for most restaurants, and a topic you have to be aware of when planning for your plumbing system. In another article, we have already answered the question “Does my small food-related business need a grease trap?” and many others related to this subject. There, we explained that it is necessary to do your research, speak to the local government agency and find out what the grease traps requirements for your specific business are. To learn about the types of grease traps for small restaurants READ HERE.

Once you decided to hire a designer for your store or restaurant project, it is time to have a serious talk about your vision. However, you may be a little confused when it comes to what such communication entails. You may wonder what is expected of you and how you can help the process. In short, how to talk to a designer.

Even though a good designer will guide you through the whole process and will do everything possible to make it smooth and easy, there is something that you can do to help. If this is the first time that you are dealing with an interior designer, follow the steps and pieces of advice below.   READ HERE.

Available in many types and sizes, POS systems help you keep track of your sales and inventory, assist you in payroll and tax preparation, and take much of the bookkeeping off your shoulders. They may also ease the communication between your wait staff and the kitchen, offer insight into your best sales, manage reservations, food deliveries, online ordering, tips and much more.

It is exactly because of this large range of features that you have to carefully select the POS system that responds better to your needs. Remember two essential points. First, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all POS. Second, you will likely not get everything you want from the one you choose. As with everything else in life and business, when choosing a POS for your restaurant, you’ll need to prioritize based on what you need and what you are willing to sacrifice.  READ HERE.

If you are writing a business plan or simply looking at different locations for your new store or a restaurant an approximate daily visitor’s number is a must.

Fortunately, there is a formula that helps you approximate this number, based on your location and the demographic of your area. To make this number relevant, you need to offer quality products and services that people want to buy. However, when all others pieces are in place, this is a good way to define the size of your potential daily customer base.

This is how to do it!  READ HERE.

Interior branding is the way a business presents itself to the world visually as a customer enters their premises. 

Often interior branding makes the difference in the consumers’ decision to buy (or not) its products or services. Interior branding or “branding by interior” is a concept that helps any business to manipulate the way it is perceived by its customers through the design of its interior space.

Today, using interior design to create an emotional response in their clients or employees is a decisive part of a winning business strategy plan.  If you want to learn more about this concept, READ HERE.

When deciding to enter the world of business ownership, you have two ways to go about it: first, buy an established and well-tested franchise; second, create your own brand and start from the ground up. Both are viable options that come with pros and cons. Choosing the path that is best for you depends on the type of your business, the risk you want to take, the money you want to make, and most of all, the freedom you want to have in making business decisions.

To make the “franchise versus new brand” choice an easier task, we put together a list with the good and the bad in each alternative, that you can weigh against your own ambitions.  READ HERE.

While great sales are in large part the result of a good quality product, this is never the whole story. When it comes to retail stores, even your best products may just go unnoticed if not backed by excellent presentation. Fortunately, if your brick-and-mortar store is not yet the success you dreamed of, there are things you can do today that are proved to help improve retail sales. Every detail counts in attracting customers and convincing them to buy, so we rounded up a few ideas you might want to consider.  To learn more READ HERE.

Today more than ever, keeping up with the times in the restaurant and retail business is a job in itself. Tastes change from one year to another, generational divides make it harder to appeal to a vague audience, and neighboring businesses are always up to something new that keeps you on your toes. In this business environment, it is important to know when to update your business brand.

While a total rebranding of your business is neither possible nor advisable every time you feel you are left behind, a periodic refresh of your brand is absolutely necessary in order to survive the competition. We found that a business refreh every 5 years is a good rule to follow if you want to remain actual and continue to appeal to your customers.

Updating your brand and interior is even more important when your business model changes, when you are trying to reach a new audience or when your feel that what used to make your business unique fails to impress today’s customers. When your interior becomes tired and uninspiring, when your logo has the vibe of another decade, or when the overall style of your business is outdated and inefficient, you need to give your business a facelift and bring it back into the present.

So how exactly do you do that if you are in the restaurant, bar or dessert business? What should you update, and where should you start? Here is the bare minimum that we advise our clients to consider.   READ HERE.

Here is a short overview of what to keep in mind when launching into franchising.  READ HERE.