Visit any of the 70+ Chopt Creative Salad locations, and you can expect three things: fresh ingredients, seasonal specials, and a clean, modern look. The company has grown exponentially since it was founded by two friends in 2001, opening seven new restaurants last year alone. All share a signature aesthetic that supports and enhances the dining experience. Each new location’s build has to happen in just a few months, a process that is a whirlwind of activity from Day 1 to Opening Day.
HBW Construction built two of the newest Chopt locations in the DC-Metro area, adding the chain to a growing list of restaurant construction clients who rely on our unique formula of people, processes, and relationships. Construction on these types of projects isn’t cookie-cutter or routine, and that’s where HBW shines.
Scheduling: A sprint to the finish line
The Chopt locations in Arlington feature custom millwork and beautiful ceramic tile throughout the space. The look is nothing like what you’d find at a standard tile store – it was custom ordered from suppliers out of state and internationally. The story of sourcing and installing supplies like this illustrates a common challenge with restaurant construction: it’s a race against the clock.
While most of our builds start with a schedule developed by HBW’s experienced team in collaboration with subcontractors and suppliers, restaurant build timelines are typically based on the end point – when the restaurant needs to open to start bringing in income. Marketing materials, grand opening events, and even hiring employees all require precise delivery. But specialty building suppliers often work on their own schedules, adding challenges to the construction processes.
HBW strategically builds a project schedule that minimizes time spent in the field and juggles the requirements of each trade partner. We sequence the schedule in a way that enables all trades to work together effectively, including coordinating access to the space, which is often relatively compact and surrounded by other active retail businesses.
Uniquely, restaurant projects require coordination with multiple outside vendors, including kitchen equipment, refrigeration contractors, IT and security vendors, interior and exterior signage vendors, decorators, and more, creating a construction timeline that is often a sprint from beginning to end. HBW takes ownership of managing these vendors and handling any issues or delays with an eye toward the project completion date.
The process becomes even more seamless with each repeated project, and as our ability to anticipate challenges grows with every build. Our superintendents consistently apply what they’ve learned, like how to manage delays for tile in Customs or extensive slab drilling for plumbing installation, to the next schedule. Franchises and chains are also constantly evolving their design, so while projects might be similar, each one remains unique.
The A team
HBW has a reputation for having passionate people on our team. For restaurant construction projects like Chopt, having the right people in each role is critical. These builds demand exceptional attention to detail in order to create a consistent brand look and feel. Being passionate about a project means everyone at HBW takes responsibility to make sure the client is happy, from those on-site to those back in the office.
Our client relationships are not one-and-done. We invest in each connection so we can keep doing work for them – keeping things on schedule, on budget, and handling the inevitable hiccups. We count on our superintendents to use their experience and judgment in the field to make quick decisions and resolve issues before they turn into major problems. It’s also their job to keep the client in the loop and manage expectations.
Relationships with our subcontractors are also important since they often play a major role in our projects. HBW works with an experienced and dedicated team of subcontractors who are held to a high caliber of work. We ensure they are motivated to complete projects on time and within budget. In fact, 90 percent of them have worked with HBW for at least five years, reflecting our emphasis on repeat business.
“Communication is the cornerstone of construction”
Chopt Creative Salads is based in New York, so they counted on HBW to be their eyes and ears on the job sites throughout the process and to manage the day-to-day relationship with the landlord and nearby tenants. That trust is what distinguishes HBW from others. In fact, one of the partners we met through Chopt recently reached out to us to bid on another project – he knows we’ll do the job to his high standards.
Trust is built with communication – and results. We’ve excelled in restaurant construction because we understand that these projects require more touches than other kinds of builds. Managing all the variables under a time crunch, and keeping our clients in the loop while we do it, takes effort and skill.
We encourage you to see HBW’s work for yourself. Visit the Chopt Arlington locations in Ballston and Rosslyn. Each build pops; they’re beautiful restaurants and we are proud to be a part of their growth story.
To learn more about HBW’s experience in restaurant construction, visit Market Sectors on our website.
Alexandra Dramby, Senior Project Manager, brought her experience in retail construction to HBW nearly six years ago.
Mike Smith, Project Executive, has focused on retail and restaurant construction for HBW for 10 years, including the Chopt Creative Salad builds.