Excerpt from Restaurant Development + Design

Maintenance should be factored into the design from the beginning, including what it takes to keep surfaces and materials clean, as well as accessibility to restaurant equipment for service. “There are all sorts of considerations when building a restaurant,” Tripp says. “Ultimately, we want to know how long is this going to last. Is this particular detail sustainable? Is the end user going to have to keep addressing [certain issues]?”

The kitchen floor is important to address because of constant spills, foot traffic and possible damage that could hinder service. “Specify or build kitchen floors that slope to drains (both floor drains and trough drains) so excess moisture isn’t sitting on them, soaking through the grout and possibly into a mud bed and deteriorating waterproofing,” Tripp says. “That’s the worst-case scenario. It happens over time, but one of the easiest ways of protecting that overall system is sloping to floor drains and having proper drainage.”

A kitchen floor leak could be especially disastrous for leased spaces in a multilevel building with neighbors below because it could deteriorate the structure. “It’s typically in the lease that the tenants will take proper care of the space, but you can’t be raining on the tenant downstairs. There’s a certain level of expectation of being a good neighbor,” Tripp says.

Irvine, Calif.-based Yogurtland, which has 329 locations throughout the U.S. and in international markets, recently switched to sealed concrete floors from tile in its stores for easy maintenance. “With tile floor, you’re always vulnerable to chips, and lighter-colored grouts have more wear and tear,” explains Yogurtland vice president of development John Carlson. “In a self-service concept like ours, you always have yogurt hitting the floor, and we have to create a surface that delivers on the brand aesthetics but is also functional. We find that the concrete floor generally hides the smaller spills and makes cleanup easier.”

All of the restaurant’s mechanical equipment should also be accessible whenever contractors are called out to service it. “Sometimes designers add beautiful decorative elements that block access to a rooftop unit or an electrical device, so the mechanic has to disassemble finishes just to service the equipment,” notes Taylor.

Regularly inspecting every detail from floor to ceiling helps keep a restaurant in good shape, but when something needs to be replaced, you need to have a strategy in place that makes it easy to swap out furnishings, finishes and equipment with minimal to no interruptions to service.

To start, Tripp recommends obtaining an operations and maintenance (O&M) manual from your general contractor and project team. “Make sure they’re providing you with accurate O&Ms with care instructions for the materials that are actually installed because materials can change throughout the course of the project. Then, set up those programs and a partnership with your contractor to tell you what you should be paying special attention to,” Tripp says.

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