CONSTRUCTING A RESTAURANT IN AN OLD BOTTLING PLANT; WHAT WAS I THINKING? PART 3 (The Construction)

This post will relate to the dining room & lounge (FOH) as it’s what the customer only sees and design is as important as functionality. The next post in this series will concentrate on the kitchen.


Before we start building anything…

First off, we got rid of the many of years of paint that covered virtually everything (brick & wood). It was a bottling plant and washable paint was a requirement. Sandblasting (not kosher anymore) revealed this gorgeous red brick and premium wood that was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. The original construction was old-school and solid.

The brick wall separating the truck bay from the actual plant was to be fitted with windows and entryways, requiring demolition. Then walls had to be built to section off the service areas, kitchen, washrooms, and mezzanine. Pretty basic construction.


I can see clearly now

Except that as walls go up, one gets a better sense of logistics and changes are made on the fly. You learn as you go and surprises are the norm. Note to self: change-orders add significant additional costs that add up quickly. As an electrician once stated: “we can do pretty much anything, as long as you’re willing to pay for it.”


What you can’t see

The infrastructure of plumbing, drainage, electrical and HVAC, took shape at this time. Fine-tuning of these services would be made during the furnishings stage, again, with an added cost. An example were the electrical outlets (how many & their placement) in the bar as the designer had little experience with these specific requirements. Efficiency is so important in foodservice and proper planning saves huge headaches in the future.


Access for everyone

During the design phase, handicapped access was always a consideration and steps/stairs were replaced by ramps wherever possible. This included areas in both the restaurant and the bar as well as the entrance. The side benefit was this created a natural flow throughout the premises.


The walls start to go up

Looking down from the mezzanine

A mezzanine was constructed to take advantage of the high ceiling and skylights and create more space for dining room tables. A custom-made staircase was constructed in three pieces in Ottawa, and it created one of the focal points of the dining room. Looking out from the mezzanine was a beautiful wooden wall that would be accented with a sculpted bird.


It also resulted in a cozy area under the mezzanine that had lattice walls on hinges that could be opened to create a space for a large party. There were lattice walls bordering the room to provide a bit of separation from the adjacent diners. Mirrors added depth to the room as well.


A large pool of water with a waterfall (clear strings were used to dampen the spray) centred the main room and round booths surrounded it. A planter at the foot of the staircase was filled with various shrubs & greenery as well as seasonal flowers, such as poinsettias at Christmas.


Since the bottling plant had a lower bay for trucks, we had to build a people bridge from the entrance into the dining room and bar/lounge. It also provided a small seating area for customers.


The bar was finished with beams from a hundred-year-old barn outside of Ottawa. Obviously, not cheap again. Alberta river rock was used for the fireplace. We burned over a cord of wood per month during the frigid winter months. You can’t buy that kind of ambience.


An important note about construction: you must be there all the time. Things can move fast and if you want to make changes or a decision needs to be made, you need do so on the fly. There are so many minute details (cosmetic & functional) with a restaurant/bar. To make changes after the walls go up is costly. And time is money.

Next post (Part 4) in the construction mini-series: The Kitchen

Previous post (Part 1) in the construction mini-series: The Building

Previous post (Part 2) in the construction mini-series: The Architect and Contractor

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