Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I use Design & Layout Services?
Most new coffee retailers can visualize how their cafe will look and feel when a customer walks in the door. However, they have difficulty finding a company that can help them design the employee areas of the cafe, such as the storeroom, kitchen and service counters. This is our expertise. We have completed over 1,100 projects and have the most experience in the industry. Our functional and efficient floor plan design will help reduce labor costs and increase your seating capacity. Many of our customer testimonials claim that our services made the contractors job much easier, saved them money on the build-out, minimized mistakes and allowed them to open sooner. In addition to our design services, we can also provide the food service equipment and the custom cabinetry for your cafe.
Do you need to visit my site?
All of our design services can very easily be accomplished by phone and email. Once we receive your wall dimensions and discuss your menu, we will design a floor plan to specifically match your concept, menu and space. The preliminary floor plan is emailed for your review in a PDF format. We will then discuss the layout, traffic flow, various employee stations, and equipment selections on the phone. From this discussion, DLS will make the necessary changes and continue to make additional revisions until a final floor plan is reached for your new cafe. Our proven processes have allowed us to complete hundreds of cafes across the country without ever traveling to the job site.
When should I start using your services?
Once you have decided on a potential location, we should begin the process of designing a preliminary floor plan. This allows you to visualize how your concept fits into the space you are considering. You will be able to see the kitchen areas and service counters, the flow of the customer traffic and your seating capacity. More importantly, you can show the plan to the local building inspector to verify that your cafe will have the proper parking, restroom and fire exit requirements. Once the lease is signed, these issues become very costly when they need to be upgraded at your expense. By retaining our services early in the process, we can help you detect these potential problems well in advance.
When should I sign the lease?
Your landlord will often allow two or three months of free rent after the lease is signed. This is not enough time to layout your cafe, get your permits, hire a contractor and complete the build-out. Start your design process early so you can negotiate into your lease an additional restroom, a larger HVAC unit or an upgraded electrical panel if required. Sign the lease only after you are comfortable with the floor plan and have reviewed it with the building inspector, the health department and your contractor to ensure codes are met and bids fall within your budget.
When should I order equipment and cabinetry?
Equipment and cabinetry lead times run about six weeks and should be ordered just before the general contractor starts the build-out. We will consolidate your equipment and cabinetry package in Minneapolis, MN and delivery it to the job site when your contractor is ready. It is advantageous to have the entire order arrive at your site on one truck at the same time.
Who installs the equipment and cabinetry?
Your general contractor is best suited to do the installation. This typically takes two days with two workers to complete. You can also do your own installation with the help from our 75 page installation manual. Each page has four color photos that illustrate how to unload the truck, uncrate the equipment, and assemble the cabinetry. Once all the equipment and cabinetry is set in place, your plumber and electrician will make the final connections.
How do I handle the health department?
You will complete the plan review application and submit any fees directly to the health department. Design & Layout Services will provide you with an extra set of plans and specification sheets to include with your submittal. We are very familiar with health department codes across the country and are available to answer questions to assist you anytime throughout this process.
Do I need an architect?
Some parts of the country will require an architect to obtain a building permit. However, if you are not making any structural changes to the building, an architect may not be needed. Many customers will have the general contractor provide the necessary architectural work as part of their bid. Design & Layout Services is not licensed as architects. The documents provided by DLS are not intended to replace architectural or engineered plans that may be required by the local building department. The documents we provide should complement those of the architect and not duplicate any of their services.
How can new coffee retailers avoid mistakes?
It is critical that a new retailer research the local health and building codes to avoid delays in getting a permit. Also, hire a company with experience to design your cafe to ensure that the employee areas are functional and labor costs are minimized. Provide the plumber and electrician with very detailed plans and specifications to avoid problems in the field. Obtain very specific estimates on all costs involved to ensure your financing is adequate. Develop a strong relationship with a local roaster or espresso dealer that will help train and educate your employees. Become a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, subscribe to the various coffee trade magazines and attend a Coffee Fest trade show to further your knowledge about the coffee industry.