May 16, 2020

Taking over an existing space: The restaurateur's recipe

Restaurant Construction
Construction Tips
3 min
Taking over an existing space: The restaurateur's recipe
Not every restaurateur who wants to open a cafe, eatery or trendy dining spot has the resources, funds, and experience to build a space from the ground...

Not every restaurateur who wants to open a cafe, eatery or trendy dining spot has the resources, funds, and experience to build a space from the ground up. In fact, some of the best restaurant and dining locales are found in existing high-rises, commercial buildings and converted houses. While there are many advantages to taking over an existing space, restaurateurs should be mindful of the factors associated with signing a lease.


Rob Mescolotto, founder and owner of Hospitality Construction Services, a D.C.-based general contractor specializing in hospitality construction, understands the benefits and challenges that come along with adopting an existing space and transforming it into a unique dining venue. Oftentimes, restaurateurs can get so caught up in the look, location or feel of the space, that they sign a lease before asking some of the most important questions.


Below, Mescolotto outlines five important things to consider before beginning a to renovate renovation of an existing space:

1. Before taking over an existing restaurant space, it’s important that the restaurateur inspects whether or not the building has an operating gas line. If the building doesn’t have this utility, gas companies will often bring it in at a very low cost because they will make money in return on the restaurant’s gas bill. However, if the restaurant or dining space you are taking over is not in a metropolitan area, it can be cost prohibitive for gas companies to bring the utility into the building.

2  Electric companies will often make the restaurateur pay for any electrical installations, in addition to the monthly electric bill. For example, if the conduit isn’t large enough for the number of amps the restaurateur needs for the space, the electric company contracted will suggest they do construction on the street to install a conduit that can handle the  power needs. If the appropriate electrical infrastructure is missing, the cost could easily surpass $10,000.

3  The size of the incoming water line is important depending upon how much water the restaurateur needs for the space. Most buildings will have an acceptable size, but it is important that the restaurateur discusses with the engineer and contractor about their water needs. For example, if the restaurateur plans to launch a large restaurant with a large kitchen, the waterline may need to be bigger in order to pump in the gallons required.

4  It is also necessary to determine the grease exhaust requirements. If the building is a new high-rise, it will most likely have an exhaust duct on the roof while a historical building won’t. This means the restaurateur will have to find space to run a shaft from the hood to the roof, which can often include a few twists and turns. Additionally, if there are other renters in the property, it will require the owner to make arrangements with them and the landlord to utilize the necessary square footage to get in the space for the shaft itself.

5  Sprinklers are a requirement once you reach a certain occupancy limit. The higher that limit is, the more likely the restaurateur will be required by law to include a sprinkler system. Establishing the ideal occupancy limit early on will help the restaurateur find the right space for their needs. Keep in mind: figuring out the occupancy requirements and the sprinkler system needs are considerations that should be decided on prior to beginning both the design and construction processes. 

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Jun 24, 2021

Skanska invests $225m in Houston office project

Dominic Ellis
2 min
Skanska plans to build a 28-floor office tower in Houston as its London office receives WELL Platinum sustainability ranking and drone trials are underway

Skanska is investing US$225m in an office development project, 1550 on the Green in Houston, with construction expected to begin in June and scheduled to be completed in 2024.

The construction contract is worth US$125M, which will be included in the Q2 order bookings. International law firm Norton Rose Fulbright has signed a 15-year lease for about 30 percent of the building.

Located at 1550 Lamar Street, adjacent to Discovery Green, in downtown Houston, Skanska plans to develop and build a 28-floor, 34,800 square meter office tower.

1550 on the Green will be the first part of a three-block master plan by Skanska, which will transform the parcels into a distinguished district known as Discovery West and consist of 3.5 acres of mixed-use development full of restaurants, retail and lush green space. The project will target LEED and WiredScore Platinum certifications.

Since 2009, Skanska has invested a total of US$2.8 billion in commercial and multi-family projects, creating more than 1 million square meters of sustainable and community focused developments in select U.S. markets. Skanska USA had sales of SEK66 billion in 2020 with 7,600 employees in its operations.

Skanska’s flagship London office has set the standard in sustainable workspaces by becoming the first in the UK to achieve WELL Platinum under the new v2 pilot scheme.

The accreditation from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) was awarded through the v2 pilot, the newest version of the WELL Building Standard. It looks at all building features and management processes – from air and water quality to lighting, acoustics, nutrition, thermal comfort and mental wellbeing. It’s widely recognised as the industry yardstick for measuring how workspaces can contribute to the wellbeing of occupants.

The offices – which span three floors of the newly developed 51 Moorgate – contain floor-to-ceiling windows for extensive natural light, dedicated wellbeing and quiet spaces, as well as stringent air and water quality monitoring, among a range of other features that have helped earn the standard.

The company has also been exploring drone flights for use in industrial environments.

Peter Cater, Development Manager, said it was invited to carry out trials because of its use and knowledge of drone capability. "The trials have benefited everyone involved: get to test their equipment and remote use of the drones and we get access to accurate, real-time data on our construction activities which benefits us and our customer, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation."

“Projects like this – at the forefront of innovation – go to show what an exciting industry construction is to be involved in. We are always looking for innovative ways of working, ways to be more sustainable so we can find better solutions for our customers. These trials are just one small part of our digital transformation journey.”

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