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Restaurant Solutions: Reusing Current Restaurant Space for a New Restaurant Concept

REALIZE the Possibilities. DESIGN Your Reality. INFLUENCE Your Life & Community.





We've previously written about the value of bringing an architectural partner along during the walkthrough of a property. It slightly delved into this topic; however, now we're going to talk about the specifics and the benefits of reusing an existing and empty restaurant space for a new restaurant concept.


Due to the unfortunate closing of so many restaurants post-pandemic, the amount of existing former restaurant space has sky-rocketed. This provides a unique opportunity to reuse this existing space for new restaurant concepts or as part of a national brand expansion strategy. These existing facilities contain certain restaurant-specific aspects that are advantageous to the project owner, as these can have a major impact on budget and design.







Existing Kitchen (Back of House) 'Shell'

Most previous existing restaurant space will already have a kitchen footprint. This is valuable to a prospective restaurant owner or national brand because the equipment connections are already in place. While the floor plan or equipment location may change or expand, there is a base to build from. Expenses for installation of equipment utility rough-ins (power, gas, grease trap, etc.) may be avoided or at the minimum reduced since there is the possibility of reuse.


Furthermore, the building and health requirements within a restaurant kitchen are expansive. From floor and wall type to equipment, washing stations and storage, the health department has certain requirements that must be met in order to become operational.


The kitchen is likely the most expensive part of your restaurant design. Considering all the required equipment, connections and material finishes, there is a major value to the project owner to explore existing space as an option.









Drive-Thru and Outdoor Site Elements

Another benefit of looking at an existing location is the possibility of finding a location with a drive-thru and an outdoor seating area. The drive-thru is common place for many national brands and our question is...why not search for a previous existing location with a drive-thru to save cost on materials and construction? Furthermore, outdoor seating is an aspect customers want and we're seeing major investment in this area from our clients in their new prototypes. Many existing locations have outdoor space that can be transformed into an outdoor oasis for your restaurant. Lastly, an existing location will already have site lighting, parking and way-finding. Outdoor elements are a major aspect of restaurant design and construction, and exploring the existing options can ultimately allow you allocate your budget to other areas of design because you may be able to avoid costs on the engineering and construction.









MEP+FP Systems

Restaurants must have proper ventilation and mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems in place. While the existing location systems may need some upgrades, the likelihood of full replacement is low. Fire protection systems and their tie ins to the local municipalities are generally expensive. Additionally, the ventilation within a kitchen and restaurant is a major aspect of inspection. The existing location will already have a ventilation system that can be utilized. Lastly, the plumbing will already be in place, meaning it is easily accessible for additional sinks, bathrooms and wash stations. The most important piece of information to remember here is...NO TAP FEES NECESSARY = a major savings!


The benefits of utilizing an existing space for your restaurant concept are clear, and while an existing location may only work for some restaurant owners, we believe there is a major opportunity here for restaurant investment groups, restaurant management groups, national brands and restaurant owners due to the large amount of available previous restaurant space. Engage an architect during your search for a location as they will be able to help guide you through the intricacies of determining whether your program will fit in / benefit from an existing location or need a new construction site. Let's talk Restaurant Solutions - 708.907.3651!



Until Next Time,


Ariel Delao

Vice-President | JP Architects, Ltd.


JP Architects, Ltd. was founded in 2015 by Jose R. Pareja, AIA. We specialize in and are passionate about residential design, commercial architecture, restaurant design and public sector planning projects. Located at 7250 College Dr., Palos Heights, IL 60463, we serve Chicagoland, North & Central Illinois and multiple states. We complete hundreds of projects per year and bring sound principles of design, resourcefulness, reliability, quality, creativity and innovative, yet functional design. to each project. At JP Architects, Ltd., we REALIZE the possibilities, DESIGN your reality and INFLUENCE your life and community.