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If you are planning to open a restaurant from scratch and you have no idea what to expect, fret not. We’ve compiled the important things to pay attention to during your restaurant construction debut. From what to expect from your first contractor meeting to the first day your restaurant opens its doors to patrons.

1.Pay attention to permits and legal documents:

First and foremost, to do business in Canada, there are government regulations to comply with, and various licenses and permits to obtain. The Government of Canada’s website at gives a checklist for restaurateurs-to-be on what documents to apply for. Once you have this sorted out, you may consider involving your landlord. The reason for this being that they would be interested in what you are planning to do with the space.

2.Choosing the right designers and contractors:

With access to the Internet, it’s fairly easy to search for interior designers. Browse through their websites and look for pictures of previous projects. These pictures are the best references you can get. Once you find an interior designer you seem to be content with, set up a meeting to discuss your first restaurant construction. Feel free to bring clippings from magazines or brochures for ideas of what you want your restaurant to look like but be open minded to hear the designers’ inputs as well.

The same goes when choosing your contractors. Look for past works, see if they specialize in restaurants and look for reviews online. The right contractors will check the plumbing, electricity, heating and air circulation on site. Moreover, they will be well aware of the building codes. They will compile the necessary information. When they do, you may ask for diagrams or layout sketches to see how they would approach the restaurant construction process. Confirm the material and color choices in advance to avoid hiccups too late in the process.

Reveal the budget early on to both parties and agree on an estimated timeline so the entire plan is laid out in black and white.

If you want to learn more about hiring a contractor, check out our articles How to Choose a Commercial Contractor and Construction Plan and When to Hire a General Contractor.

3.Ask for feedback:

Even when the restaurant is up and running, do keep your contractors’ and designers’ numbers handy. There might be some problems that would only be apparent when the restaurant is operating. Ask for detailed feedback from the kitchen staff, starting with whether there is a reasonable amount of space for food preparation and storage. Ask the front-of-house personnel if they face any hazard when delivering food from the kitchen to the tables. If the problem is dire, good thing you have your contractors’ and designers’ numbers saved!

For general contractor services and project consultation, contact our Calgary construction location.