We’ll be glad to lend some guidance. We have designed and built numerous restaurants, including casual restaurants such as Hot Spud, Ritual Coffee Roasters, Blush Organic Frozen Yogurt, and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
From the perspective of construction costs, taking a space with an existing kitchen would be a huge advantage. The major costs to build a kitchen from scratch add up quickly as it includes electrical, gas, plumbing, and the hood (including ducting/venting and fire suppression). At its most extreme, the kitchen can cost up to 3/4 of the overall budget. For a 1,500 square foot space, the kitchen would be about 600 square feet and the dining room about 900 square feet. The cost of a new kitchen is typically $300-500 per square foot, putting the cost of the kitchen at $180K to $300K.
If you are looking at a space that has an existing kitchen, it will dramatically reduce construction costs. But be aware you might have to bring some items up to code or make other improvements to suit the menu. Pay close attention to the type of hood and the ducting as correcting these items can be expensive and are often out-of-code.
The square footage costs for the dining room are lower, but can still add up. They tend to range between $100-200 per square foot, which is $90,000 to $180,000 for a 900 square foot dining room. If your design aesthetic can support a more “rustic” look, then we can work to lower those figures. A past project had a very limited budget and we were able to reduce the cost to $50 per square foot. However, a number this low is very rare.
You can find some more responses to typical restaurant questions at our Restaurant Q&A.