Who's Who in Restaurant Design?

Designing a Restaurant: Who Does What

It takes a lot of people to get a restaurant up and running, but what does each of them do? While each of the following restaurant design jobs is distinctly different, they all must work together to create your restaurant. Below, we break down what each person is responsible for and why each one is essential to the process of building or renovating a restaurant.


Architects are among the first people you should contact, possibly even before you sign the papers on the land or building you are buying or leasing. A restaurant architect can assess what you're considering and help you get there or let you know why another way may be better. If you will renovate an existing building, the architect can evaluate it and let you know what renovations are possible, as well as what might be beyond your reach in that location based on the condition of the space.

Architects are generally up to date on the most common design trends and can suggest which ones might work well in the concept you have in mind. Depending on how large and elaborate your signage is, your architect may be involved in designing that, as well.

Interior Designer

Many architects have interior designers on staff or work with independent professionals. That individual will work closely with the architect to design the appearance of your restaurant both inside and out, taking your vision and turning it into color boards and three-dimensional renderings. They can help you select the fixtures and decorative pieces that will add some personality to your restaurant.

Another important aspect of a restaurant interior designer's job is helping you make the most of the available space. An experienced interior designer will show you seating options that maximize how many people you can comfortably and safely seat at once. Be sure to ask your interior designer about the full spectrum of services he or she offers; many are also able to handle logo design, graphic design for menus and signage, and uniform design.

General Contractor

Whether your restaurant is a new build or you simply need to make renovations to an existing space, a general contractor can help you achieve your goal. If you don't have one in mind, your architect or interior designer may be able to recommend a trusted professional. General contractors are usually well-versed in local regulations, and are familiar with the ins and outs of applying for necessary permits. This knowledge makes them valuable for even minor changes to the building that may well end up being far more involved than you would initially expect.

A general contractor will work closely with your architect and interior designer, putting their plans into action with his own work crew. He will also sometimes hire subcontractors, such as plumbers and electricians, to complete more specialized work. Having a general contractor means you have a point man to communicate with, instead of trying to keep in touch with those subcontractors yourself.

Project Manager

This title may vary, but the job is indispensable. A restaurant project manager works with your restaurant supply company to help you select and coordinate delivery of the equipment you need. This includes everything from assessing your kitchen package needs based on your menu to assisting with organizing installation. Having a project manager help design your kitchen ensures you have the best possible workflow and an efficient back-of-house floorplan that prevents wasted space.

Whether you are looking to improve the workflow of your kitchen or build your first restaurant, a project manager has the experience to ensure you get the most out of your space and budget. When an architect and general contractor are involved, the project manager can collaborate with them to help make your commercial kitchen the best it can be.