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Planning for your Restaurant Renovation

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Planning for your Restaurant Renovation

Most people think that restaurant renovation is the first step of opening a restaurant. Planning for your restaurant renovation before deciding on the menu is going to slow down the opening process, create unnecessary chaos and increase the start-up cost.

Renovation should be done only when you are certain about what type of food you want to serve. The menu determines the look and feel of the restaurant.

It also determines the floor plan and kitchen layout. The kitchen layout depends on the type of food you want to cook in the kitchen.

A restaurant serving Malay food will have a different kitchen layout from a restaurant serving western food. The owner needs to know the positions of exhaust fan, stoves, ovens, chillers, power points, etc before starting the renovation.

Prevent delay and budget overrun

Planning for restaurant renovation is crucial to prevent delay and budget overrun. Since construction workers are paid daily, any delay will cost extra money to the owner.

Ideally the total renovation shouldn’t take more than 2 months. Proper planning for renovation can reduce the renovation cost significantly.

Renovation for restaurants has different piping, wiring and material requirements from house renovations. Although it sounds obvious, a lot of people make mistakes by choosing contractors whose experiences are in house renovations.

Experienced restaurant contractors will know the requirements from the local council to get Business License approvals. If you choose an inexperienced contractor, you may need to make further renovation when the local council comes for inspection and disapproved the renovation.

This will delay your opening and significantly disturb your operation.

Finding a reliable contractor

Finding a reliable contractor is a very tricky business. Instead of agreeing on the first contractor you meet, source for a few reliable contractors who have experiences in renovating restaurants similar to the ones you plan to operate.

Go to the restaurants they renovated and see if you like their previous works. If possible, talk to the restaurant owners and ask them about their experiences.

Every contractor has different standard and style. Choose the one who understands what you need and want for your restaurant. Choose one who is suitable for your budget and standard.

A contractor who gives cheaper quotation and beautiful drawing doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good contractor. There are many unreliable contractors who run away without finishing their jobs or cheat their clients by substituting with sub-standard materials.

It is better to find a contractor who is referred by someone you trust.

Set a budget

Once you find a contractor, set a budget and write down what you want. Be very specific on what you want and need from the contractor. If possible get some pictures as referrals to avoid misunderstanding.

Misunderstandings between owners and contractors usually causes delays. Instead of just verbal agreements, having pictures, written instructions and renovation agreements will smoothen the whole renovation process.

If you have discrepancies later, you can always refer back to the written agreements.

To find more about starting a restaurant business in Malaysia, visit

About the author:

Elly Suliana is an accountant who has been involved in opening, operating and managing few restaurants in Kuala Lumpur for the past 10 years.  Although her technical background is in Accounting and Management (Bachelor degree in Accountancy from San Diego States University – USA and an MBA from University of San Diego – USA), her passion for food drove her to be in the F&B industry. She loves food and everything associated with it.

She is the author of ebook “How to Open a Restaurant in 8 Weeks”. Her step-by- step guide has helped many Malaysians and foreigners opened their restaurants in Malaysia. Currently she is running an accounting firm, providing financial services and consultancies to restaurants in Kuala Lumpur.

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