Opening a restaurant can be an exciting yet challenging endeavor. One of the biggest costs to account for is construction. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Restaurant construction costs typically range from $200 – $500 per square foot.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the details around estimating restaurant construction costs per square foot. We’ll look at the different factors that impact costs, average ranges, and ways to reduce expenses.

Average Restaurant Construction Costs per Square Foot

When it comes to building a restaurant, one of the most important factors to consider is the construction cost per square foot. This cost can vary greatly depending on various factors, such as the location, size, and design of the restaurant.

In 2023, the average restaurant construction cost per square foot is expected to range from $200 to $500. Let’s take a closer look at the different cost ranges:

Low End ($200/sq. ft.)

For those looking to build a restaurant on a budget, the low end of the construction cost per square foot is around $200. While this may be the most affordable option, it does not mean compromising on quality.

By carefully selecting materials and making smart design choices, it is possible to create a beautiful and functional restaurant within this budget. However, it is important to keep in mind that certain high-end finishes or specialized equipment may not be feasible within this cost range.

Mid-Range ($300/sq. ft.)

The mid-range construction cost per square foot for a restaurant is around $300. This range offers more flexibility in terms of design choices and material selection. It allows for the inclusion of higher quality finishes and equipment, which can enhance the overall dining experience for customers.

With a slightly higher budget, restaurant owners can also invest in energy-efficient systems and sustainable practices, which can lead to long-term cost savings.

High End ($500/sq. ft.)

For those aiming for a high-end restaurant with luxurious finishes and top-of-the-line equipment, the construction cost per square foot can reach up to $500. This range allows for the incorporation of premium materials, intricate designs, and state-of-the-art technology.

It creates a unique and upscale dining experience that sets the restaurant apart from its competitors. However, it is important to carefully consider the target market and location to ensure that the investment will be financially viable.

It’s worth mentioning that these average costs can vary depending on the location and specific requirements of each project. To get a more accurate estimate, it is recommended to consult with experienced architects, contractors, and industry professionals.

They can provide valuable insights and help create a realistic budget that aligns with the desired vision for the restaurant.

Factors Impacting Restaurant Construction Costs


The location of a restaurant plays a significant role in determining its construction costs. Restaurants situated in prime locations, such as busy city centers or popular tourist destinations, often have higher construction costs due to the higher demand for real estate and the need for additional permits and regulations.

Additionally, the cost of labor and materials can vary depending on the region or city, further influencing the overall construction costs.

Type of Restaurant

The type of restaurant being constructed can greatly impact the construction costs. Fine dining establishments, for example, typically require higher-end finishes and luxurious furnishings, which can drive up the overall costs.

On the other hand, fast-food or casual dining restaurants might have simpler designs and more cost-effective materials, resulting in lower construction costs.

Size of Space

The size of the restaurant space directly affects construction costs. Larger restaurants require more materials, fixtures, and labor, which can significantly increase the overall construction budget. It’s important for restaurant owners to carefully consider their space requirements and balance it with their budget to ensure a successful construction project.

Layout and Design

The complexity of the restaurant’s layout and design can impact the construction costs. Restaurants with unique layouts, such as multi-level seating areas or custom-designed bars, may require additional structural work and specialized materials, which can increase costs.

Simple and straightforward designs, on the other hand, are generally more cost-effective to construct.

Quality of Materials and Fixtures

The quality of materials and fixtures chosen for the restaurant’s construction will have a direct impact on the overall costs. High-end materials, such as marble countertops or custom-made furniture, can significantly increase expenses.

However, it’s important to strike a balance between quality and budget to ensure the longevity and appeal of the restaurant.

New Build vs. Renovation

Deciding between a new build or a renovation can also affect construction costs. While a new build allows for greater flexibility in terms of design and layout, it often comes with higher initial costs.

Renovating an existing space might be a more cost-effective option, but it could require additional expenses for retrofitting and updating systems.

Timing and Availability of Contractors

The timing and availability of contractors can impact construction costs. During peak construction seasons, the demand for contractors may be higher, leading to increased labor costs. It is essential for restaurant owners to plan their construction projects well in advance and secure reliable contractors to ensure timely completion and avoid potential cost overruns.

Ways to Reduce Restaurant Construction Costs

When planning to open a new restaurant or renovate an existing one, it’s important to consider the construction costs involved. By finding ways to reduce these costs, restaurant owners can save money and allocate resources more efficiently.

Here are some strategies to help lower restaurant construction costs:

Choose an Affordable Location

One of the most significant factors affecting restaurant construction costs is the location. Choosing a prime location in a busy area may seem tempting, but it can come with a high price tag. Instead, consider selecting a more affordable location that still has good foot traffic and potential for growth.

By striking a balance between location and cost, you can save a significant amount of money on construction expenses.

Optimize Layout Efficiency

The layout of a restaurant plays a crucial role in its overall efficiency and profitability. By optimizing the layout, you can reduce construction costs. Consider factors such as the flow of foot traffic, table placement, and kitchen design.

A well-designed layout can maximize space utilization and minimize the need for extensive renovations or costly structural changes.

Use Cost-Effective Materials

Choosing cost-effective materials without compromising on quality is another effective way to reduce construction expenses. Research and compare different materials to find the best options that fit within your budget.

For example, using high-quality but affordable flooring, countertops, and fixtures can help you achieve the desired ambiance without breaking the bank.

Work with an Experienced Design Team

Hiring an experienced design team can make a significant difference in construction costs. These professionals have the expertise to create efficient designs that maximize space utilization and minimize unnecessary expenses.

They can also guide you in making informed decisions about materials, equipment, and layout design, helping you save money without compromising on the aesthetics or functionality of your restaurant.

Hire During Off-Peak Construction Times

Timing is crucial when it comes to construction costs. Consider hiring contractors and construction teams during off-peak times when demand is lower. This can often result in lower labor costs and better availability of skilled workers.

By planning your construction project strategically, you can take advantage of cost savings opportunities.

Negotiate Contracts

When working with contractors and suppliers, don’t be afraid to negotiate contracts to get the best possible deals. Compare prices, explore different options, and consider bulk purchasing to save money on materials and services.

Building strong relationships with contractors and suppliers can also lead to long-term cost savings and ongoing support for your restaurant’s construction needs.

By implementing these strategies and being proactive in managing construction costs, restaurant owners can optimize their budgets and create successful establishments. Remember, every dollar saved during construction can be reinvested into other areas of your business, such as marketing, staff training, or menu development.

The Permitting and Inspection Process

When it comes to constructing a restaurant, the permitting and inspection process is a crucial step that can determine the success of the project. This process ensures that the restaurant meets all the necessary regulations and safety standards.

Here are the key aspects of the permitting and inspection process that restaurant owners need to be aware of:

Building Permits

Obtaining building permits is the first step in the permitting process. These permits are required by local authorities to ensure that the construction of the restaurant complies with zoning regulations, building codes, and safety standards.

The cost of building permits can vary depending on the location and the scope of the project. It is important for restaurant owners to budget for these permits and factor them into the overall construction cost.

Health Department Approval

Health department approval is a crucial requirement for any restaurant. This approval ensures that the restaurant meets the necessary hygiene and food safety standards. The health department conducts inspections to ensure that the restaurant has proper sanitation facilities, food handling procedures, and pest control measures in place.

It is important for restaurant owners to work closely with the health department to meet all the requirements and obtain the necessary approvals.

Fire Inspections

Fire inspections are another essential part of the permitting and inspection process. These inspections are conducted by the fire department to ensure that the restaurant has proper fire safety measures in place. This includes fire alarms, sprinkler systems, emergency exits, and fire extinguishers.

Restaurant owners must comply with all fire safety regulations to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.

Liquor Licenses

If the restaurant plans to serve alcohol, obtaining a liquor license is a necessary step. The process of obtaining a liquor license can vary depending on the location and the type of license required. Restaurant owners must submit an application, pay fees, and undergo background checks.

It is important to note that the cost of liquor licenses can vary significantly, depending on factors such as the state, city, and type of license.

The permitting and inspection process can be time-consuming and complex, but it is essential for ensuring that the restaurant meets all the necessary regulations and safety standards. Restaurant owners should consult with professionals who are familiar with the local requirements to navigate this process smoothly and avoid any delays or penalties.

Choosing the Right Contractor

When undertaking a restaurant construction project, one of the most crucial decisions you will make is choosing the right contractor. A skilled and reliable contractor can make all the difference in the success of your project. Here are some important steps to take when selecting a contractor:

Get Referrals

Start by asking for referrals from trusted sources such as friends, family, or other business owners who have recently completed construction projects. Their first-hand experiences can provide valuable insights into the quality of work and professionalism of different contractors.

Additionally, consider reaching out to local trade associations or industry professionals for recommendations.

Check References and Past Work

Once you have a shortlist of potential contractors, take the time to check their references and review their past work. Request a list of references from each contractor and make sure to contact them. Ask about the contractor’s communication skills, adherence to timelines, quality of work, and overall satisfaction with the project.

It’s also a good idea to visit some of the contractor’s completed projects to assess the quality and craftsmanship.

Compare Multiple Bids

Obtain detailed bids from at least three different contractors to compare their prices, proposed timelines, and the scope of work. It’s important to note that the lowest bid may not always be the best option. Take the time to carefully review each bid and understand what is included and excluded.

Look for any hidden costs or discrepancies between the bids and ask the contractors to clarify and justify their pricing.

Review Contract Terms Closely

Before finalizing your decision, thoroughly review the contract terms with the chosen contractor. Pay close attention to payment schedules, warranties, change order procedures, and any other important clauses.

If there are any concerns or areas that require clarification, discuss them with the contractor before signing the contract. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions to avoid any potential issues down the line.

Remember, choosing the right contractor is a crucial step in ensuring a successful restaurant construction project. By following these steps and conducting thorough research, you can increase the chances of selecting a contractor who will deliver high-quality work within your budget and timeline.


Constructing a successful restaurant requires careful planning and budgeting. While costs can be high, focusing on efficiency and cost control from the start can help you stay on budget.

Following the tips above for minimizing expenses without sacrificing quality can lead to a beautiful, functional restaurant interior that meets your needs and vision. With realistic estimates and the right team in place, your dream of opening a restaurant can become a reality!

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