interior designer melbourne, hospitality design

Budgeting for Cafe Design

There are a lot of formulas and suggestions on how much to budget for a cafe design project, for example X amount p/m2 of your site but there are lot of variables to consider.  Such as size of space, quality of finish, the quality of the build, state of the site, quality and quantity of kitchen equipment, furniture and so on.

So I thought I’d share my experience after years of working with hospitality clients on a wide range of hospitality design projects to give you a true indication of the cost of a hospitality design project.

If you take away nothing else from this article, it’s important to PLAN.  A business plan, a financial plan and a floor plan will help you keep to your budget and allow the relevant experts in the industry give you the best advice.  Don’t be afraid to plan, there are many resources out there, templates and webinars, that will help you with this vital step.

I’ve broken down the key areas of hospitality design projects as follows;

– kitchen equipment,

– design, plans, permits,

– furniture, fittings and fixtures

– build and fit out.

Let’s look at each area more closely.

interior designer melbourne
Amoka Cafe, Sunshine

Kitchen Equipment

For this subject, I spoke to Anthony and Maria from Caféideas, West Melbourne.  I’ve been working with Caféideas for a few years now, they are a key a supplier for my projects and Anthony and Maria have over 15 years experience in the hospitality industry, therefore they have an abundance of knowledge and expertise to share.   

We talked figures and the least expensive kitchen they have supplied equipment for was $20,000, the most expensive was $160,000.  Obviously not all kitchens are the same and both Anthony and Maria agree that knowing your ‘menu, target audience and location’ are critical in choosing the right equipment.

I asked about the most important aspect of kitchen equipment and they both agreed after sales service.  Anthony mentioned that with equipment it is important to consider ‘long term consumption, energy, and down time due to breakage.’

How long can your business survive if a key piece of equipment breaks down?

Anthony advises it is important for business owners to do their ‘research and have a plan, including a floor plan, so that when they come in to us (Caféideas), we can have an open, honest conversation and present the best solutions.’  And finally ‘there are 2 kinds of cheap, cheap to buy but also cheap to run.  What may look like a bargain isn’t always the best choice for your establishment.’

interior designer melbourne

Designs, Plans & Permits

Every design studio will have a different quoting system for example between 10%-30% of your budget, so I just want to give you some indicative figures.  Our design fee for a refurbishment starts at $8,000 and for a new site it’s $15,000 BUT there are many considerations, not all sites are the same and not all clients have the same requirements.

Every part of your hospitality project will require floor plans, the extent and detail of these will depend on if you need a building or planning permit to operate your business in your selected premises. 

I advise clients to budget at least $3,000-$5,000 for the most basic plans for a building permit.  Planning permits will be more expensive.  Basic design and layout plans are critical for both selecting equipment and furniture so it’s important to budget for plans.  They’re also important to ensure you have the best flow of movement and layout in both your kitchen and front of house.

interior designer melbourne mother melbourne cafe design
Mother Melbourne, Northcote

Furniture, fittings and fixtures

Usually my clients are happy to spend $100 on a chair, similarly for a table and base.  But essentially what directs your furniture purchase is your vision and design.  A designer will be able to help you realise your vision through furniture, fittings, and fixtures.  Some specifications may be low cost, but others may require a bigger spend, especially custom-made elements.

For example, the cheapest commercial grade tile is between $20-$30 p/m2, sometimes I have used items from Kmart for example mirrors for the bathrooms but lighting, neon signs, and plants both real and artificial can cost thousands.

Remember that when designing a commercial space you do need to spend a little more for durability due to the high volume of usage the space, furniture and surfaces will experience.

Interior Designers Melburne

Build and Fit Out

If you think not hiring a builder will save you money, think again.  If you think your brother, cousin, friend will do you a favour on a trade job, think again.  You might get a cheap rate from your contact but you will not be their priority and your job will almost always get done last and be delayed.  If you think you can project manage your project yourself, think again.

By far the biggest pain point for my clients is not hiring a reputable, experienced builder to get the job done right, first time.  A good builder will project manage, communicate, trouble shoot with you.

Get at least 3 quotes by showing the builder the same plans, you need to compare apples with apples.  Read the inclusions and exclusions carefully before making a decision and don’t be surprised to spend upwards of $100,000 for a good builder. 

Again, there are many variables but if you have an empty site and are building from the ground up, including all services such as electrical, plumbing, gas etc. this is what you can expect to pay.

You can read more about the common mistakes of hospitality design project in a previous blog I wrote but both Anthony and Maria from Caféideas and I agree that, PLANNING, A CLEAR VISION and having a HOLISTIC perspective for your hospitality business from the outset will actually save you time and money in the long run.

By doing your research and being prepared you can have valuable conversations with various industry experts without feeling like you’re being sold to, ripped off etc. 

A good supplier, designer, builder will want to work hard to deliver the best outcome for you because they would want to maintain their reputation, it’s just good business.  So don’t be afraid to talk about your project, your vision and your budget openly and honestly.  For more information don’t hesitate to call or email either myself or Caféideas.

Trish Khoury
Founding Director
Grace Interior Designs