To expand your service area is a tempting proposition for your business. Even if you lack horizontal space, there is a way to make it happen. Namely, you can open a rooftop space. It is a great way to draw new people to your restaurant, especially if the roof offers a stunning panoramic view.
But, there is one problem: this process is a bit more complex than adding chairs to the sidewalk patio. This is not to say you should be discouraged. In fact, we would prompt you to pursue that goal. To maximize your chances for success, focus on the following three aspects.
First off, you need to face structural challenges and limitations. Roofs are most often designed to hold up nothing more than their own weight and crucial systems like ventilation. Therefore, in order to have fixtures and furniture on it, you may need to do some reinforcing. Note that lightweight solutions like paving pedestals are a sound choice here, as they reduce weight-bearing load considerably.
Furthermore, one logistic issue to address is access to the rooftop. Depending on existing elevators and stairways, this is something that calls for a substantial investment of time and money or just minor adjustments. In any event, guests (including elderly and people with disabilities) and service staff must be able to enter easily and go about their business. Next, take into account the local climate and weather. To keep harsh weather and elements at bay, you can create an enclosed or semi-enclosed area. This is a more expensive option, but it tends to pay off come fall and winter. It is also advisable to consider shade sails, pergolas, umbrellas, or awnings to shield guests from scorching sun rays in the summer.
Permissions and other legal bases
Moving on, it is time to settle administrative and regulative affairs. In a nutshell, you need to confirm you are legally allowed to operate on the roof. So, do your homework and research zoning and licensing in your area. They can impose various limitations on how you can entertain customers. But, you can overcome them by getting approved for exemptions or applying for special permits. Explore these avenues before proceeding with your plans.
In case you are leasing the space, it is necessary to enter negotiations with the landlord. Basically, you must obtain the permission to start the construction project and change the lease so that it reflects these new realities. Sometimes, restaurant owners even manage to cut the costs by convincing landlords to sign a cost-sharing agreement. Beyond that, bear in mind that additional permits and inspections may be required when doing specialized installations such as gas, elevators, and kitchen equipment. On the other hand, a liquor license (or upgrading the existing one) is obligatory in certain jurisdictions, so don’t overlook this document either.
Once that is all sorted out, you can turn your attention to the visual side of things. The goal is to make the space as inviting as possible. When it comes to décor options, the sky is the limit. Still, you need to think about the theme of the restaurant and its target audience (demographic), as well as the aforementioned environmental and regulatory elements. The design solutions you pick vary wildly when you aim for luxury and opulence or want to foster a casual and laid back feel.
Regardless of these specifics, make sure to highlight scenic qualities and points of interests, as well as the architectural features of the building itself. Pay special attention to lighting because it acts as a powerful aesthetic enhancer and provides a swell nighttime dining experience. Finally, ponder what kind of amenities and activities you want to offer to restaurant goers. For instance, you can designate one part of the roof as an area for snatching Instagram-worthy photos. Or, host private events and integrate a powerful sound system. Just take precautions to avoid uproar and neighbor backlash.
It goes without saying that your business can benefit immensely from expanding upwards. But, realize that there is some ground to cover before you can move forward with the whole project. Planning ahead of time is paramount, so take your time navigating the labyrinth of decisions.
Weigh a variety of different factors, including permissions, logistics, climate, structural integrity, demographic, style, etc. Covering all these bases should make the space stand out and serve as a breathtaking customer magnet. Light up that skyline.
By Lucas Bergman