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A photograph illustrating scaled drawing for retail to restaurant conversion with the OneTen REI log in the top left

5 Helpful Considerations for Converting a Retail Store to Restaurant Space

As a quick-serve restaurant franchisee owner or operator, you may ask “can retail space be used for restaurants?” Converting a retail store into a restaurant can be a complex process, but it can also offer numerous benefits for restaurant owners looking for a unique and accessible location. OneTen REI has experience in the adaptive reuse of former retail space for local, regional, and national restaurant concepts. Let’s break down five important considerations as you embark on your retail store into restaurant conversion project.

Graphic outlining OneTen REI considerations for retail space to restaurant conversion

Zoning and Permits:

Before beginning any renovation work, it is important to check with local zoning officials to ensure that the property is zoned for restaurant use. Additionally, permits and licenses may be required for any modifications to the building, such as changes to the electrical or plumbing systems. OneTen REI works directly with its architects and engineers and the local planning department to oversee and ensure permits are received in a timely manner.

Layout and Design:

The layout and design of a retail store may not be ideal for a restaurant, so it is important to consider how the space will need to be reconfigured. This may include removing walls, adding a kitchen and bathrooms, and designing a layout that allows for the efficient flow of customers and staff. OneTen REI has experience in overseeing the design process to meet the specific requirements of your retail location.

Ventilation and Exhaust:

A restaurant requires significant ventilation and exhaust systems to maintain air quality and ensure the safety of customers and staff. These systems may need to be added or upgraded in a retail space, which can be a significant expense. Rest assured that OneTen REI brings a wealth of knowledge in converting traditional retail space to restaurants.

Plumbing and Electrical:

A restaurant requires a significant amount of plumbing and electrical infrastructure to support a kitchen and other equipment. It is important to ensure that the existing systems are sufficient or to plan for upgrades as needed. Electrical and plumbing is an essential part of the redevelopment process and requires a significant amount of upfront due diligence to ensure that your new restaurant has the appropriate capacities to operate with the efficiencies you need and that will be acceptable to local codes.


A retail space may not be designed to accommodate the needs of a restaurant, such as a wheelchair accessibility or adequate parking. These issues should be addressed in the planning process to ensure that the restaurant is accessible and convenient for customers. OneTen REI has experience in working ADA compliances to ensure your project has the necessary updates required for a fully accessible restaurant space.


OneTen REI Retail to Restaurant Conversion Projects:

Here’s a quick reference to our portfolio of successful OneTen REI restaurant to retail space conversions


Converting a retail store into a restaurant can be a rewarding process that offers numerous benefits, including unique architecture, central location, and established customer traffic. However, it is important to carefully consider the costs and requirements involved in the process and work with experienced professionals to ensure the conversion succeeds and meets all necessary regulations and standards. Contact us today to let us do the heavy lifting and get your retail to restaurant conversion underway!