A booming pipeline of restaurant construction jobs has many Southern California commercial construction companies staring at a full plate right now. If you look at any Los Angeles-area commercial builder’s portfolio, you’re very likely to see many restaurant builds showcased. The LA area hasn’t seen this number of new restaurant construction projects since perhaps 2008. From national chain restaurants and fast food giants to fast-casual dining and high-end restaurants, So Cal is ripe for restaurant construction projects at the moment. In this post, we look at why this shouldn’t be a surprise.
Restaurants Have No Online Competition
Traditional retailers are directly competing with online retailers. Online retailers are now opening select brick and mortar stores – further infiltrating the traditional retailer’s space.
Restaurants aren’t feeling the pressure of online competition. Sure, there’s delivery but any restaurant location can also offer that if they want to. There are the prepared meal/fresh food delivery services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron but that still involves some degree of cooking and it isn’t a night out of the house. The experience and convenience of a restaurant just cannot be matched.
Restaurants Are Now Into Urban Locations
The last restaurant construction boom saw fast-casual dining chains like Chipotle popping up in suburban locations. Typically on roads near shopping destinations. Strip mall after strip mall. Right alongside established McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, etc. This helped these brands broaden their reach while also increasing their brand awareness by putting them in the conversation with other mainstream fast food franchises.
Restaurants had previously shied away from urban locations since real estate, construction costs, and taxes can be double or triple a suburban location’s. But more restaurant owners today are realizing that hip urban locations with high population densities are bringing a greater return on investment.
As more historical city structures become part of the adaptive reuse trend, both local restaurant owners and national chains want to be included in all of these mixed-use urban developments springing up.
One-time inner city warehouses are becoming the new destination for restaurants owned by renowned chefs. For example, New York chef David Chang is opening his first Los Angeles restaurant – North Spring – on a former industrial site on the outskirts of Chinatown.
The only potential problem (for restaurant owners, certainly not us) is many of these mixed-use locations are building to suit retail or office space, not restaurants. This means there will be a need for a commercial general contractor experienced with restaurant conversion projects, restaurant retrofits, restaurant buildouts, and general space customizations.
A standard restaurant conversion would involve the following:
- Installation of Black Iron Duct for Kitchen Exhaust
- Larger Gas Line to Accommodate a Line for Cooking
- Electrical Wiring/Equipment Upgrade to Accommodate Power Demand
- HVAC Upgrades to Address Heat from Kitchen & Airflow Efficiency
While the above certainly shouldn’t be a deterrent to any restaurant owner wanting to open an urban location, it’s something to consider while assessing spaces to lease or rent. Nonetheless, this is an exciting time for restaurant builders in and around Los Angeles. Restaurants are popping up throughout all of the developments in the city as well as the suburbs in Ventura, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles counties.