For the restaurant construction timeline to work, make certain the architectural plans are comprehensive and aligned with mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and health plans. No discrepancies should exist. Choose a contractor who has a solid rapport with vendors and subcontractors. It's imperative these partners are licensed, bonded, and insured up to the requirements set by your landlord. Before finalizing the contract, discuss potential weekend work. If weekend work is needed, your contractor should be willing to comply. Costs for overtime work should be pre-agreed upon, especially if needed to meet tight deadlines. After selecting a general contractor for your restaurant, you'll naturally want to begin immediately. However, always ask for and review a project schedule before the actual construction begins.

Here are a variety of factors that determine the timeline for restaurant construction.

  • Size and design of the restaurant.
  • Final touches such as painting, caulking, and installations related to millwork, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing finishes.
  • Timeliness and quantity of equipment deliveries, including kitchen equipment, lighting, and HVAC systems.
  • Specific site details and landlord stipulations.
  • Challenges related to the space or location.
  • Utility companies and their availability with scheduling meter installs
  • Clear and consistent communication among stakeholders.
  • Changes made during the construction process.
  • The team size of contractors and subcontractors.
  • Weather conditions.


Is the latest version of plans and construction documents prepared? Have you set the delivery dates for the fixtures and furnishings? Have the utilities been turned on, and are all accounts set up? For any new services, it's crucial to complete all paperwork at the project's outset. Field representatives from different utility companies should inspect the site early on to assess the scope of work and initiate processes. Only after the city inspectors provide the final approval can utility companies proceed with installing new meters and activating services. Be aware that installing a meter might take up to a month, depending on the utility provider. Therefore, prioritizing this immediately after the project finishes and obtaining city approvals is essential.

Opening a new restaurant entails three significant pre-construction phases:

  • Architectural Design & MEP Plans: 4 to 6 weeks
  • Construction Bidding: 2 to 3 weeks
  • Plan-check/Permits: can extend up to 8-10 weeks


During the design phase, the architect creates the restaurant's full set of plans. Depending on the restaurant's size and intricacy, this process can take up to 6 weeks. For smaller establishments, the design typically wraps up within a month.



Approximately 2-3 weeks before city approval of the plans, consider inviting up to three contractors to submit bids for the project. One useful approach is to request a blank cost spreadsheet from one contractor and require the others to use this same format. This promotes uniformity, making it easier to compare cost breakdowns across different bids. Contractors should present their final cost estimation based on the latest plans submitted to both the city and health department. Their submission should detail the scope of work, specifying what is included and what is not. This clarity allows you to determine if certain items need to be incorporated into their tasks before finalizing the contract. Ultimately, the onus is on you to ensure detailed bids are received, largely influenced by the information you provide to the bidding contractors. The more detailed your input, the better you safeguard against potential change orders and additional costs down the line.


Once you've selected a General Contractor and signed the contract, and the plans have received approval, they will proceed to obtain all necessary permits. Typical Tenant Improvement (TI) projects require permits and associated fees for Building, Electrical, Plumbing, Mechanical, Health, and occasionally, Low Voltage. It's possible to secure a permit as soon as a day after plan approval.


Once the three pre-construction stages are completed, restaurant construction should commence without delay. Building a fast-food restaurant typically takes around 8 weeks. A fast-casual eatery might be completed in about 10-12 weeks, while a full-service or fine dining establishment could require 20 weeks or more to finish.