How to Hire a Restaurant Designer

Hiring an restaurant designer for a new restaurant remodeling project is like a job interview and a date rolled into one. Past experience and expertise are key, but so is vision and overall chemistry between the hiring restaurant and the designer.

However, restaurants aren’t especially prepared for the process of hiring a designer to bring their brands to life and create the type of guest experience they seek. That preparation has a lot to do with having a clear vision and being armed up-front with all of the information that a designer would need to be able to achieve the desired results.

In order to give designers the best direction and insights, restaurant clients need to be able to clearly express what they want, or what they want to change, and why, suggests Brian Singer, owner at a restaurant design and consulting firm in Orange County, CA.

“Restaurants should know all the fundamentals like budget, location, spirit, atmosphere, what’s unique about their restaurant, and what their brand stands for,” adds Tom Mortenson, design architect and senior project manager, in Rockford, Ill.

I asked executives from three diverse restaurant concepts that work with outside designers — for their takes on the hiring process. Read on to learn what works for them.

Restaurant design and remodeling

“We don’t want to hire who everyone else is hiring,” says Peter Karpinski, Sage’s COO and co-founder. “Younger firms have fresh thinking because they are not pigeonholed, don’t have a templated style and have a lot of flexibility. It’s a trade-off because sometimes they don’t have the maturity and the know-how of a more experienced firm.”

When looking for a new designer for a project, Karpinski interviews up to five firms. “I have them walk us through who they are and what they do and the projects they’ve done in the past,” he says.

He doesn’t prepare much in advance for those initial meetings and doesn’t expect the designers to, either. “I want to meet with people before I really have a specific project in mind,” he says. “My decision-making is not crowded, in that way. It’s more important that we both resonate during this get-to-know-you, and the rest of it comes from there. I want to know if they’ll be able to work with us when we have some difficult challenges or if they will become stubborn. It’s all about a feeling — like going on a date.”


Essential to the project was proximity and Faires lived nearby. Many meetings needed to be face-to-face at that point, Smart says, so the two could read each other’s verbal and non-verbal feedback. They could also sit together and look at sketches and really collaborate.

Faires has since moved to New York City, but at this point it doesn’t matter as much, says Smart, since they understand each other and ongoing design work is mostly about fine tuning. But he does need to know they can get hold of each other quickly, he says, as sometimes decisions need to be made on the fly.

Top Restaurant Remodeling in Orange County

Restaurant Remodeling

Singer Construction Co. is the premier builder and commercial contractor, specializing in restaurant remodeling in Orange County. We understand the importance of giving your customers a world-class dining experience. Whether you own a fine restaurant, a diner or fast-food franchise, our design team will work with you to create the ideal environment that will keep your customers coming back.

restaurant remodelRemodel Your Restaurant; Revitalize Your Business

Singer Construction Co. has helped restaurateurs revitalize their businesses by overseeing full-scale restaurant remodels in Orange County for years. We are one of California’s leading commercial general contractors. Our team of architects, construction professionals, and interior designers work with every one of our clients to execute a restaurant remodeling plan that will facilitate the re-creation of their restaurant. In doing so, we will present an inviting atmosphere, and an unforgettable dining experience for customers while optimizing the efficiency of the operation.

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Whether you are in the market for a kitchen upgrade, a facelift or a complete redesign, Singer Construction can help you. We offer a variety services to meet any need, including complete restaurant remodels, tenant improvements, appliance installation, and dining area design. We can help with every aspect of a restaurant remodeling project including a storefront, custom features, parking options, and easy access for patrons. We can help to create an ambiance that matches your desired theme and menu offerings. We even assist with the design and installation process from lighting and sound systems to sign boards and decor. Our client portfolio includes fine dining establishments, commercial chains, family dining, cafes, coffee shops, and fast food restaurants throughout Las Vegas.

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Singer Construction Co. specializes in phasing restaurant remodels as not to create loss of use or revenue. We offer convenient weekend and after hours scheduling, and are committed to meeting construction deadlines and budgets. We intimately understand ADA and Orange County code requirements, which helps to ensure that each project is completed to specs without unnecessary delays and cost overruns. Let us help improve the look and feel of your establishment and create a pleasurable dining experience for your customers. Call Singer Construction Co. today for a no obligation restaurant remodeling consultation.