4 reasons restaurateurs might not want a general contractor to build the service counter

In many restaurant construction projects, the construction of the service counter – the literal first line of the restaurant experience – is the responsibility of the general contractor.

The result is often a wall constructed like any other interior wall constructed of sticks, with holes drilled into the timber frame to make room for electricity, water or gas pipes. It’s functional (mostly) and gets the job done (usually), but this type of build can lead to common issues and shortcomings.

Here are four reasons why operators might consider alternatives to a general contractor to build their reception desk and what they can do instead.

More prone to errors

An on-site built service counter can lead to errors or communication issues that can lead to construction errors. These can range from minor – misalignment between countertop sections – to significant – forgetting to allocate space in the wall for electrical or water pipes.

Even a nationwide fast service chain with a strong engineering team could not prevent these problems from occurring. In several places, food screens have been installed too close or too far from food, threatening food safety guidelines. And the finishes and components were not consistent from place to place.

Brand inconsistency

Especially for regional or developing chains (and even occasionally for large, well-developed chains), construction plans may include a gray area or opportunities for interpretation on the part of the builder. This can lead to brand inconsistency from place to place.

A store will have power lines going through the wall and hidden from view. The next one will have a duct attached to the outside of the wall, creating a cleaning nightmare.

Tiles, laminates and other aesthetic embellishments can be applied slightly differently from contractor to contractor, threatening brand continuity.

Counters can even end up being of different lengths, which can lead to issues with the intended use of the equipment.

Mystery of the cost

When service counter walls are built by the general contractor or a subcontractor, the price is usually included in the overall cost of construction. Operators have no visibility on the prices of this essential element of their operation.

Separating expenses by choosing an alternative approach helps operators better understand and control costs.


What the above issues suggest is a general problem with the traditional approach to the design and construction of pre-service counters in casual quick and quick service restaurants.

A construction by a contractor requires significant coordination to ensure that electricians, plumbers and other technicians have access at the right time and in the right place to operate the necessary lines that will support the restaurant equipment.

Components such as food protection and decorative items must be arranged and installed separately. And it all has to come together to create a cohesive customer and employee experience.

Without a very specific plan for the builders, operators can end up with a setup that doesn’t quite meet their needs, leaving them to figure out how to simply “make it work”.

A better way

There is a better way.

LTI’s UD-WALL is a utility distribution wall comprised of heavy-duty stainless steel sections and constructed with cutouts in the groove to accommodate utility connections.

Because UD-WALL is designed and manufactured in the same factory, operators can get the perfect counters to meet their needs. Any changes or adjustments can be done on paper before anything is built in the field, saving money, time and inconvenience.

And once the design is finalized and the wall built, installation is quick. Restaurants can go from a flat floor to a functional counter in less than a day.

In addition, steel walls offer greater cleanability and durability compared to traditional carpentry. And available factory-installed electrical load centers provide one-point electrical connection.

Learn more about lowtempind.com/ud-wall.

This article is sponsored by LTI, Inc.

About Elisa C. Peachey

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