The Comprehensive Guide to the Restaurant Design Process [Infographic]

This article was co-authored by Julie Nelligan, NCIDQ and Justin Alpert, AIA, NCARB

When opening a restaurant, whether developing a new brand or thinking about what it would take to implement a franchise design, having a thorough understanding of the restaurant design process and how it pertains to your specific project will set you and your design team up for success.

The standard architectural process varies and gets tailored to specific projects based on if the design team is creating and integrating a design criteria for a new restaurant concept, or if they are implementing a design criteria for an existing restaurant brand.

It’s important for anyone involved in the restaurant design process to understand how initial phases impact all phases to follow.  For example, identifying operational equipment needs during the programming phase and incorporating the equipment into the layout early in the design phase will prevent potentially costly changes later during construction.

Phase Zero Design begins before the beginning using this process to get the full team on the same page from the start of the project.  This sets the foundation for effective communication throughout the design and construction process to minimize issues throughout the project schedule. 

The Comprehensive Guide to the Restaurant Design Process further expands upon the details of each phase of the architectural process as they specifically relate to a new restaurant concept or an existing restaurant brand.


Standard Design & Construction Phases:

  1. Due Diligence: researching and identifying upfront information. 
  2. Programming: researching and understanding the project-related criteria. 
  3. Schematic Design: utilizing the information gathered to create initial design concepts.
  4. Design Development: refine and develop the initial restaurant design concept.
  5. Construction Documents: prepare the construction documentation for permitting, bidding, and construction.
  6. Construction Administration: act on the Owner’s behalf to ensure construction is performed in accordance to the design intent.

Justin Alpert, AIA and Julie Nelligan, NCIDQ discuss the restaurant design process in an interview with Bisnow.  Read their article: What You Need To Know Before Beginning the Restaurant Design Process.