Posted by Patrick Maness
Of the many considerations that go into planning a restaurant, one of the most overlooked (because it may be the least glamorous) is the parking lot. After all, restaurants don’t earn their reputation based on the quality of their parking spaces. For the most part, any decision about a parking lot comes down to determining what is most practical and useful.
In this blog, we’ll touch on some common issues related to parking lots and help you land on a layout that will allow you to attract and retain customers.
Standards and requirements of parking lot design
If you want to open a restaurant, it’s likely you will have to provide a minimum number of parking stalls for your patrons. The minimums vary from city to city, and in Seattle, for example, a 2,500-square-foot restaurant that seats 90 guests requires just 10 parking spaces. In San Diego, on the other hand, you need 38 parking spaces that are at least 325 square feet each.
These requirements don’t always make sense, and a lot of people resent them for the added costs they impose on a given business. Nonetheless, though the regulations may seem unreasonable, restaurants do need to comply with them. It’s important, at the very least, to contact municipal authorities and learn what the parking minimums are in your city.
Parking lot safety
Like parking minimums, different cities have various requirements for how many lights and cameras need to be installed in and around a parking lot. In addition to meeting these requirements, you should also check with your insurance company to learn how lighting and cameras can affect your rates.
But beyond the purely financial and legal reasons, having a well-lit parking lot, especially if you are open late, gives patrons a sense of security and creates an inviting environment that could make people more likely to return.
Ideas for parking lot design
We’ve discussed the nuts and bolts of a parking lot, but is there any way to affordably spruce up your lot in a way that will make people talk?
Several Carl’s Jr. locations in Arizona, an Applebee’s in Kansas and now Ruby Tuesdays have teamed up with Tesla to install supercharging stations in their parking lots. Tesla drivers can recharge their electric cars here in 20 minutes, which means they will be more likely to eat at the restaurants. As an added bonus, the novelty of the supercharge station can create buzz in the community.
Though you might not be able to make a deal with Tesla, one of the simplest ways to enhance your parking lot is to go green. Adding some low-maintenance hedges, trees or potted plants can detract from the plain asphalt and create some pleasant ambience even before people walk through the doors.
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