On An Interior Design Budget? 3 Tips to Help Restaurateurs Save Money

Liberty Market interior design budget

The restaurant industry is making a comeback as diners post-pandemic are yearning to go out and enjoy a sit-down dining experience once again. The increased demand of customers looking to eat out again means that the most creative minds in the industry can create new and unique foods and spaces for restaurants of all varieties from fast casual to fine dining.

However, as demand for restaurants is increasing so are the costs associated with building those restaurants. Inflation across the world is making it more costly for restaurateurs to craft their ideal dining experience. This increased cost is definitely seen in the interior design of a restaurant as everything from seating to lighting to menu material is not only harder to find, but is also more expensive. Designing the perfect restaurant space while dealing with significantly rising costs is a huge challenge for any restaurant owner but it is not an insurmountable challenge. 

As experts in restaurant design, our interior design firm has helped many restaurant owners stay on budget without sacrificing their vision during a tricky economy. Here are a few tips to budget your restaurant’s interior design plan more efficiently.

Conduct a test fit

The vision of the restaurant in your head is always easier to manage than the space you have in reality. Not understanding your space can be disastrous when you can end up purchasing expensive materials that either don’t physically fit in the space or that don’t look as aesthetically pleasing as you thought. A test fit is an absolute necessity for any restaurant owner looking to get the most out of their interior design investment. A test fit consists of layout plans to help gauge the client’s need in a given space. It helps the restaurant owner asses the appropriate number of seats they can comfortably fit in their space. This is essential to the success of the restaurant, ensuring that areas don’t feel tight, selected items fit in the space, and blockage is minimal to guest and service flow. A test fit can show truly how many tables and chairs you need for a space and allows you to have a better understanding of how statement pieces can fit throughout. Seats equate to revenue, so you want to have just the right amount.

Kahvi CoffeeMany interior design firms can even create 3D models of your hypothetical restaurant space to have a clear understanding of how the vision of your restaurant plays out in reality. The 3D model software allows you to see everything from the lighting fixtures to the wall decor, and the accessories used to bring the space to life.

The test fit will allow you to better understand what feels good in a space before you commit to the investment of the interior pieces.

Set realistic expectations and avoid blindly following trends

It is important that restaurant owners and the interior design teams they hire do their research on pricing. The reality is that many restaurant owners are working with an outdated understanding of the cost of materials. A restaurant owner who did an interior design project just last year is looking at a significant increase in cost this year. Set realistic cost expectations and your interior design team will do their best to work with you on creating an ideal space with a budget you feel comfortable with. Your interior design team should do a “good, better, best” exercise with you which will help point out different design scenarios and materials you might use at different costs. Label any material or fixture you would want in your best-case scenario then do the same thing in a less ideal situation. You can then map out the cost for each scenario.

Come into this conversation with a clear vision and be honest about areas where you would be more willing to compromise your vision and also be clear about what is non-negotiable. For instance, you may think the layout of your restaurant’s main entrance has to make a statement but the entrance along with the price of every other part of the restaurant is cost prohibitive. You might choose to invest more into the entrance of the restaurant and spend less on less trafficked areas such as the bathroom entrance hallway.

Nori seating House of FormIt is also tempting to craft your restaurant around the hottest trends, but the issue with this approach is that trends tend to be fleeting and more expensive because it is in high demand. 

Do your best to avoid chasing trends when designing your restaurant. It is okay to incorporate them if they really fit with your overall vision, but you want to avoid just designing your space around the most popular things. If you work with your design team and sincerely believe in the space you are creating, you will save more money than if you create a generic space of popular designs.

Know your menu

Menu clutter is a constant culprit in overinflated budgets. Designing and printing menus cost money and the more items you have on a menu the more it is going to cost. It is important to have a clear idea of what dishes will be on the menu and what you would like the layout of that menu to be. Most restaurants today have gone with a condensed menu approach meaning less of an emphasis on the quantity of dishes and more on quality. 

You can even avoid most costs associated with menu printing by doing a QR menu system that has remained popular. A QR system also allows you to quickly change menu items without having to print entirely new menus.

The restaurant industry is in a better spot than it was two years ago, but an increased cost of goods has become a new challenge for new restaurateurs in a post-pandemic world. However, these challenges do not prevent us from designing unique and beautiful dining experiences. Set realistic cost expectations, know your menu, then do a test fit and you will design an interior space at a manageable budget.

Dala Al-Fuwaires, Principal of HOUSE OF FORM, a globally recognized boutique interior design studio specializing in commercial interiors, residential interiors, product design, branding and graphics. With over a decade of experience in the interior design field, Dala has worked on hospitality and retail design projects ranging in size from boutique to national rollouts. Dala graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Arizona State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Interior Design from Purdue University. Outside of design, Dala can be found traveling to new places, hosting dinner parties for friends and family, remodeling her home, and photographing all of the above.