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Lessons I Learned DIYing a Restaurant Makeover

Yesterday I finally showed you guys the reveal of Durango’s, our family restaurant that Court and I almost singlehandedly overhauled over the course of a year. Renovating a public space is so so different than doing something in your own home, I thought it might be fun to count the ways!

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Form over Function EVERY FREAKING MOMENT. Dudes. This was seriously so hard for me. I love things that look pretty, even if you cant actually sit on the chair or open the door. Having it look good is always my #1, but renovating Durango’s changed that little path in my brain rather quickly. The most important thing is that it has to be safe and functional, then you can worry about how it looks. I (of course) wanted Cacti everywhere. But, you’d be surprised at how many people want to reach out and touch it, just to make sure that its real. So our solution was nice plants on the ground, mean plants up high.

You teach people how to use your space. At Durango’s we LOVE when big families come in, so the idea to bolt the tables to the floor was X’ed pretty quickly because people love to group them. The only down side is that when this happens, there aren’t loads of tables left. Our solution was to add more tables especially some that sat fewer numbers of people. That way if you have 6 in your party you can grab a 4 top and a 2 top instead of 2 4 tops. Its been awesome!

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Hire people who care! This seems like such a no brainer but we ran into some major issues with the designer/photographer that we originally hired not delivering what we agreed upon and it set our timeline back significantly. Luckily we found Jer, and he killed it. If you are in Southern Utah (or beyond!) he comes very highly recommended!

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Your customers are more invested than you think. Ok so there is something that you should know about Court. Besides being the worlds best husband, when we are working on a project, his confidence in it is entirely dependant on mine. He’s not really a visionary and basically blindly does what I say, hoping that I’m steering the ship in the right direction. Man he’s amazing. Doing the restaurant was totally different than working on our house, cause no one sees the house, right? Comparatively, he is at the restaurant daily and gets the unfiltered critiques from customers…which wasn’t so great at first. There was one older couple in particular that were very opinionated and told him that it looked like a Tijuana Prison and we should at least add some baskets of red flowers to liven the place up. Specific right?! On the flip side, because it was such a long process, customers loved seeing the updates as they happened. The regulars would come in and comment on the new tables, or menus and it made our world knowing that they could see it coming together right along with us.

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We couldn’t do everything, and that was ok. There were a few jobs that we hired out, like the Brick and the walkway divider. Let me tell you, it was AWESOME. I feel like we did a great job doing what we could confidently execute, but when it came to the walkway divider (that would have hundreds of people leaning on it, standing against it, and sitting on top of it) I just didn’t feel really happy about that pressure.

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Its ok to try new things!! I will LITERALLY NEVER be a food blogger, but I had a blast taking pictures of the food for the menus. I love things that stretch you creatively and this was a good stretch!

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The last thing is that it was totally worth the investment that we made. It can be scary forking out a bunch of cash, but it has been the best thing that we’ve ever done for the business.

Questions? Leave them below!!

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About Ashraf Akkilah

Ashraf Akkilah

Architecture and design is my passion.
I’m an architect who is interested in building design and decor trends. I’m also interested in sculpture design and landscaping.
I’m “outdoor” architect who love to be involved in the project site and supervise finishing and final touches works. I had contributed to many construction and decor projects.

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