June, 2015

More Bums On Seats

In small businesses, cash flow is king and one of the common questions I get asked by restaurant owners is how I can get more bums on seats? There are a couple of tips that can help attract customers and turn them into raving fans.


 Are you trying to attract tourists with your authentic Australian burgers? Or are you serving Brisbane natives who want convenience and a healthy meal on the go?

Being clear on who your customer is will influence all areas of your business from menu, to marketing and store design. Understanding your customer is no longer just about age, and demographic. To create a concept that will make your customers want to experience what you have to offer you also must understand their needs. What can you offer that has meaning to your customers, makes their lives easier and will bring them back for more?

Put yourself in the shoes of your target customer. What are you interested in? What are the little problems that you would like to solve? How do you decide if a newly opened café or restaurant is worth the second glance? If you’re thinking “visuals” and experience– then you’re dead on.


Let’s be honest, concept and aesthetics have a lot to do with the success of a hospitality business, be it a café, a restaurant or a bar and grill. People tend to pick a place based on how it looks, and the experience that it offers.

There is a restaurant in the Philippines that has a weird concept, yet it has become wildly popular. The restaurant uses real toilet bowls as seats and bath tubs as tables. Pipes and bathroom tiles were used as décor. It doesn’t stop there. It also has a photo booth with a giant toilet bowl and lots of props for the customers to enjoy.

The restaurant offers a variety of food with a Filipino twist, however what they are really selling their customers is an experience. It is memorable, it is remarkable and it is worth dragging your friends along to experience.


In a product based industry it is easy to get caught up in selling products and fail to realize that the customer’s impression of the business is about everything they experiences; not just the food. Your customer’s experience is made up of the food they eat, the friendliness of the staff, and how attractive and comfortable the store environment is.

If you want to create a REMARKABLE customer experience, you need to come up with something new and unique to offer to your customers.

Top Hospitality Designs & Why They Work

Hello everyone!

A couple of days back, Renew Design came up with an idea to collaborate with fellow bloggers, designers, and shopfitters. If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to send us an email.

Working with other people in the industry not only inspires us, but it also gives us the opportunity to view things in a different perspective. It’s a two-way street that leads to diversity, and the creation of many more brilliantly creative ideas. What can I say? We all need a breath of fresh air every now and then.

Having said that, please give a round of virtual applause to our first ever featured post from Taryn Thomas of Thomas Joinery. Let her ideas on hospitality design inspire you to create you own beautiful works of art. 

Top Hospitality Designs & Why They Work

By: Taryn Thomas

Thomas Joinery | Shopfitting Communications Manager

Creating and building a design that’s ‘on-brand’ is the key to ensuring whether a hospitality business thrives… or merely survives.

A design and fit-out is a long-standing, physical interpretation of why your café, restaurant or bar exists. Whether it’s a cheap and cheerful café with vintage chairs or an exclusive wine bar with mahogany and gold leaf signage – your fit-out is a one-off chance to create the right ambience to attract the right market.

Through our experience in delivering unique hospitality venues all over Brisbane, these are our top hospitality design tips:

  1. Choose a feature material: Recycled timber, for example, continues to be an on-trend design choice for its earthiness, eco-friendly credentials and timeless style.
  1. Entry / Shopfront: Building or altering shopfronts can be a structural engineering issue but it’s worthwhile investing the time and money to get it right. Entries have a huge impact on converting passers-by into customers.

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Jamie’s Ministry of Food Mall Thoroughfare, Wetherill Park

  1. Signage: Our tip – get creative and install on-brand signage everywhere possible! Signage opportunities these days are limitless. We are tipping the comeback of next generation energy efficient 80s style neon lettering!

Image 3

Red Crane Flying Crane, Westfield Garden City

  1. Go the whole hog: ensure your design and fit-out is in sync with your brand promise, whatever it may be. If your café is striving for an eco-friendly vibe, are the materials in your fit-out sustainably certified? Are you using local service providers?

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Ministry of Food, Wetherill Park

Finally, our top tip is intangible. The best projects we’ve worked on are those where the relationship between the client, designer and shopfitter is authentic and the values of the designer and shopfitter align with the business owner’s and their brand. That mix creates a hospitality design and fit-out that works.



Disruptive Design, Making Your Customers Notice You

Whether it is scrambling through the Rubble Bars in Budapest or winding down back alleys in the grungy end of Fortitude Valley to visit “Greaser” (one of Brisbane’s new hotspots) customers are searching for experience. The young twentysomething hipsters with money to spend can be a fickle crew but one thing is for sure, they are looking for something different, something worth telling their friends about. The real question is, are you giving it to them?

The hospitality industry is becoming increasing competitive. There seems to be a new laneway bar or American food restaurant on every corner and customers have their choice of venues to wine and dine. However going out for dinner and drinks is not just about the food it is about the experience. Going “out” is a social experience, it is about the food the environment and the company. Your customers want to try something new. They want to be delighted. They want to take their friends out somewhere that will make them look cool for recommending it

Are you able to provide something special that can attract these potential customers? With so many different options available, what will make you stand out? Why will they choose you? A unique concept will draw more customers in. If you can pique their interest, chances are, they will want to visit your place not only for the food but for the experience itself.

What is your story?

What made you decide to go with the concept that you have chosen? This is where you communicate with your customers. Be personal and weave them a story, communicate your passion and make them part of the story. And ask them what they love about visiting your business? How do you become part of their story?  People visit and spend money with businesses they care about, to create a loyal customer you must be offering them something of significance to them. You may be a cafe and your product is convenience or you may be a baker who brings back the feeling of sitting in grandma’s kitchen.

What makes you remarkable?

The hospitality industry is one of the biggest and most competitive industries globally. With so many options available in the market, what makes you stand out? What can you offer your customers that others cannot? First you have to tempt them through the door to see what makes you remarkable and then you have to offer them an experience worth coming back for.

Your goal is to create difference!



How to Control Cost and Open a New Food Business

Cost is one of the major concerns business owners face in the process of expanding their businesses. Knowing how to control cost when opening a new food business or expanding an existing one puts you in control and avoids the stress of unforseen budget blowouts.

The fit out cost for a hospitality business usually comes down to three parts namely: equipment and services; approvals and consultation fees and shop fitting.

Services and Equipment

The hidden cost that many business owners do not see when selecting a site are the services. The services usually required for a Food Business at minimum are a grease trap, mechanical ventilation, electricity and gas and refrigeration. Understanding the services that are required for your type of business and getting expert advice on the services that are already available on the site you are considering can save tens of thousands of dollars from your cost.

Before you start a fit out put together a list of all the equipment you will need to operate your business. Look at your menu and the functions you will need in your kitchen area and counter and work with a good equipment supplier to provide details and costing of your equipment.

Knowing the total cost of the equipment and your financing options will help you manage your cash flow as usually equipment is one of the largest expenses in a hospitality fit out.

Design and Approvals

Having a realistic fit out budget and working with a designer who can work with your builder to manage cost is the second key to keeping your store fit out on budget. The types of finishes and furniture selected as well as the layout of the store can have a large impact on your final build cost. Your budget will need to allow not only for the cost of the construction and equipment but also any consultants you will need to work with and required approvals.

Fit out

To put together a price your builder will need accurate and detailed drawings of your store design. Usually pricing is only given once the design is complete. However, not having an upfront indication of what the fit out will cost often leads to budget blowouts, problems with financing, and delays in the construction and more. The solution to this problem is involving your builder in the design process so that he can offer feedback on the design and construction cost and anticipate and budget problems as your store design develops.

An understanding of the costs associated with your new store fit out will allow you to be prepared with sufficient financing and build to budget.