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Warehouse-to-restaurant conversions are becoming more and more popular, as customers and tenants have embraced the look and feel of industrial buildings for a unique dining experience! Any conversion requires a lot of homework. Here are some planning tips to help you get started on your restaurant conversion!

Zoning

The most important item on your to-do list should be ensuring that the property you plan to convert is zoned for restaurant use! Find out your property’s zoning designation. If the specified zoning use does not permit restaurants, you’ll need to get a zoning variance before moving forward. 

Budget

Before you begin your restaurant conversion, calculate all of the associated costs. It’s best to develop a budget and complete a cost analysis before you start getting your hands dirty. Determine the build-out and remodeling costs, as well as the costs of equipment, rent, insurance, labor, utilities, and other day-to-day materials. A cost analysis will help predict your restaurant’s profit margin.  

Designing Your Kitchen

Sketch a rough design of your restaurant layout on paper first, before sharing your plans with an architect that can create a blueprint. Be sure to locate any current electrical outlets, water pipes, and air vents. If at all possible, keep the utilities in their original place to save money on renovation! Plumbing, electrical, and ventilation work will require permits and inspection to ensure they meet local codes.

Safety

Having proper ventilation for your restaurant is crucial for employee and customer health and safety, as well as food safety. It’s important that you’re bringing in enough outside air to compensate for the air exhausted from kitchen equipment. 

It’s critical that your restaurant is equipped for fire safety. A fire suppression system must be functional and unblocked. It’s a good idea to get the opinion of a fire marshal during the design phase.

Storage

When you’re planning your restaurant conversion design, don’t forget to account for storage space! Make room for freezers, refrigerators, and shelving for dry goods, utensils, and spices and ensure they are easily accessible for cooks working in the space.

Permits for Restaurant Renovation

Before construction, obtain a construction permit for renovation. Then, be sure to obtain the proper licenses, permits, and insurance to run your restaurant business. You must acquire a business license, an employer identification number, a certificate of occupancy to show that the building is safe for employees and customers, a food service license to operate as a restaurant, and a liquor license if you plan to sell liquor. Your building may also have to be inspected for a building health permit.