Designing Your Pho Restaurant: Hidden Secret of a Good Pho Restaurant Floor Plan

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Kitchen floor planUpdated 11-25-15.

Opening your pho restaurant is not unlike opening any other restaurant. Everything starts with a floor plan.

Your pho restaurant floor plan is what shows your concept and how you intend to operate your business. It's a big part of your plan submission to city and health authorities of the city you'll be doing business in. It's also the first tool you'll use to discuss with your general contractor to build out the space for you. And it's also an important tool as you manage your team (from your architect, to your general contractor to your employees during training) in everything leading up to your grand opening.

But not all floor plans are created equal. Let's discuss what a good pho restaurant floor plan is.

What Is a Floor Plan

This question has a straightforward answer. Your restaurant floor plan is a drawing that shows your front of the house and back of the house, and everything in between. It includes equipment and their placements; mechanical, electrical and plumbing locations; and dining room placement of tables, chairs and lightings, among many other things.

To many people, it's very easy to create a floor plan. To many others, it's not. But whether you draw up the floor plan yourself or have your architect do it for you, it is important to understand that your floor plan is not just a collection of equipment placed around your space. Beside the fact that the floor plan is the blueprint for your space buildout, after which everything is pretty much cast in stone, the floor plan can be a critical tool in training your employees as well.

Okay, all this is easy enough, so what's the point? Here's the real purpose of a good pho restaurant floor plan.

Kitchen equipmentThe Hidden Secret of a Floor Plan

A good, solid floor plan for a successful restaurant has a secret: it's much more than what's shown on the surface.

A trained professional can look at a floor plan and tell whether it's a good or not so good plan. For someone with no experience, it's just a collection of drawings of equipment pieces arranged in a given space, maybe for some good reason but not sure what. This is why many restaurant floor plans are kept as company proprietary information at least throughout the buildout period.

If an owner knows what she wants to do with her restaurant, then it will show on the floor plan. If an owner knows how she wants to train her employees, then it will show on the floor plan. If an owner knows how to ensure a safe workplace, control labor and inventory costs, encourage efficient employee operation and teamwork, give customers great service, and maintain or even improve food quality, then it will all show on the floor plan too.

The fact is, many new restaurant operators rush too fast through the floor plan development process. They can't wait to get to the "real" stuff: the purchasing of equipment, the buildout of the space, the installation of front and back of the house, the design of the walls and dining room, the lights, the signs, etc. What they don't realize is much of this should be done in conjunction with developing floor plan, and should be incorporated in the plan so that you can ensure a smooth operation when the equipment show up.

And therein lies the real secret: the operation itself.

Actually, restaurant operation is all about the operation, or more accurately, process/procedures. Allow me to explain.

In a successful business, however you look at it, everything boils down to 2 things: 1) equipment/resources and 2) process/procedures.

Examples of equipment/resources are the ovens, the pans, the tools, the racks, the shelves, the utensils and even the people that are required to make the business run. These are the tangible things that you can see and touch. On the other hand, process/procedures are the unseen threads that tie or link together the equipment and resources in a coordinated way.

Put in other words, process/procedures are the rules, the policies, and the steps that ensure food ingredients, equipment and employees all work together to serve your customers. Process/procedures are the threads that tie or link your operation together. Here's an important relation: You cannot run your restaurant with top-of-the-line equipment and mediocre or non-existent process, but you can definitely run your restaurant with only so-so equipment and great process/procedures.

Procedure flowBy my own estimate, a successful restaurant depends less than 50 percent on good equipment and more than 50 percent on process/procedures. For this reason, a pho restaurant floor plan is not just about placement of equipment and other assets, and worry about the "how to's" later.

A good floor plan should in fact reflect how the business will and should be run. It is the vision of the restaurant operator translated into a plan that the rest of the team must follow, from the design and buildout before you open to operation after you open. Without this, guess what, the plan won't be followed, the business won't be operated as intended, and failure will be the unfortunate result.

I have a motto in everything I do. I call it "the speed of going slow" and it has works for me every time. I hope you take advantage of it and make it work for you as well. Slow down, work out your operation and procedures, THEN create a floor plan that supports your operation as you plan it to be.

Share with us your suggestions or questions in the comments section below. If you need help to open your own pho restaurant, head on over to the Contact Form and drop me a note. I'll get back to you within 24 hours.

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