Leon Williams Contractors dishes on some current restaurant design trends

    Restaurant design changes as East Tennessee appetites persist


    Americans love to eat. They especially love eating at restaurants. Americans now spend more money each year dining out than they do preparing their own meals at home.

    This provides a wealth of opportunities in the Knoxville area – for food suppliers, beverage companies and restaurateurs big and small. It creates opportunities for Leon Williams Contractors, too. Our restaurant design-build services have been used by franchises and for higher-end independent restaurants, too. But whether you are a franchise operator or building the private restaurant of your dreams, you need to stay on top of ever-changing American dining habits and demands. Now that 2018 is halfway done, here’s a quick look at four restaurant trends that will likely drive design-build approaches. Some may be fleeting, but some are likely here to stay.

    Pickup and delivery: It can be an annoyance when circling a packed parking lot to see spots reserved for “pick-up” customers. But those customers are becoming the lifeblood of an industry eager to keep pace with burgeoning meal-delivery services. Restaurant designs will increasingly add parking and integrate more pickup stations, to serve both third-party delivery companies as well as those who want to pop in and out with a full meal to take home.

    Noise reduction: Decibel readings at some restaurants actually enter the harmful range, and it’s a common complaint YOU HAVE TO YELL AT YOUR DINING COMPANIONS to engage in even sporadic conversation. Add a mediocre jazz trio, and you might as well resort to sign language or semaphore. The reasons vary, as do the solutions. In a move toward sleeker restaurants, designers have axed drapes, luxurious upholsteries and carpeting that used to absorb sound. Tile, steel and blonde wood, not so much. As the problem persists, expect restaurant design to include softer wall coverings, acoustical tile and carpets.

    Local, local, local: Be it in appearance or on the menu, diners want a reflection of their local culture and cuisine in their favorite eateries. We’re not talking about country kitsch-laden walls a la Cracker Barrel. We mean more along the lines of repurposed native wood, or displays by local artists or photographers. Budding restaurateurs may consider display cases of local products offered on the menu: Think Benton’s bacon, Blackberry Farm baguettes, or local honey. People want to feel a local connection to their food.

    Tabletop payment: More restaurants are going to try to more subtly incorporate those tabletop terminals into their décor. They are rather cumbersome to some diners, but many appreciate there is no need to give up their credit card to a stranger for five minutes. They can also be used to distract kids with games and leave reviews, and as a glance at any Yelp account will show, people love to leave reviews. Almost as much as they enjoy dining out.

    Ultimately, you decide how you want your restaurant to sound, feel and operate. We can guide, and be guided, every step of the way. Contact Leon Williams Contractors today for the best restaurant design-build options in East Tennessee.

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    Leon Williams Contractors can handle site selection and accompanying challenges

    We can navigate the complications and variables of where to locate your business

    Dairy Queen - Maryville Tennessee - Leon Williams Contractors

    When it comes time to choosing a site for your East Tennessee or Knoxville-area restaurant, retail shop, clinic or church, we are sure you are aware of the “three Ls:” Location, location, location.

    While this is a prime and obvious consideration for virtually any new commercial construction, there are other things to take into consideration before committing to a project location, including building size, visibility, taxes, site access and parking.

    Leon Williams Contractors’ preplanning and consultation services and design-build approach can limit the headaches involved for business owners wanting to construct a new business or expand an existing one. Here are five things we keep in mind.

    1. Building size: Is the site large enough to accommodate your building? It could appear so, but you must take into account other needs, including parking, storm water detention, required setbacks, buffers, signage, and other features such as a deck or patio.
    2. Visibility: This is obviously a function of location, but is not necessarily based on how much vehicular traffic passes by the site. Pedestrian traffic is a factor, too. There are location analyses available, but one surprising rule of thumb is to locate near competitors. This means there’s an established pattern of people coming to the area for a similar service.
    3. Soil and Environmental: Many sites may appear to be a great spot for your new business, but what is not as evident is what could be underground. Sites can have environmental issues that may require remediation such as contaminants in the soil or hazardous materials in existing buildings. Other concealed concerns with sites can be soils that are unsuitable for typical foundations, sink holes, and bedrock.
    4. Site access: Just because a business is sited next to a busy roadway doesn’t mean automatic big paydays. If ingress or egress to your location is difficult, that could sink sales quickly. Avoid complicated intersections or sites from where it’s difficult to make a left turn or otherwise enter the roadway. Depending on the road classification, proximity to intersections, and other governing requirements, the number of access points may be limited. Limited access can cause problems with deliveries, drive-thru queuing, and general circulation on the site.
    5. Parking: Many municipalities have formulas of varying complexity determining how much parking must be provided for various types of businesses or services (for instance, one parking spot per 200 square feet of retail building). There are also ADA requirements to keep in mind for handicapped parking, and some local governments even require landscaped medians and a set number of trees. The rules can get even more complicated if municipalities govern or limit the extent of impervious surfaces.

    Building and opening a new office or shop entails much more than hanging a shingle and opening your doors. Site selection is but one step in the complicated journey toward planning and opening a new business. Our construction preplanning services and design-build approach can streamline the process so you can get on with the business of raising your profile and running your business.

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    Leon Williams Contractors to Refresh Food Service Venues at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    New Panda Express rendering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

    Maryville, Tennessee-based commercial design-build firm hired to create new dining environments for students

    MARYVILLE, Tenn. – July 28, 2017 – Leon Williams Contractors, a Maryville-based commercial design-build firm, has been contracted out to help build three new dining options for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students, including a Panda Express, Steak ‘n Shake by Biglari, and a Provisions on Demand (P.O.D.) quick-serve store.

    “We are excited to work with our dining services partners to offer these great new options to students,” said Dr. Dee Dee Anderson, interim vice chancellor for student development. “The feedback we have been receiving is very positive about these new additions, and we believe these new brand offerings will be terrific for our campus.”

    The new dining options will be located in the food court at the University Center.

    “We will be constructing three different projects with open food concepts between all three,” said Jimmy Hawkins, president of Leon Williams Contractors. “UTC is always looking for ways to improve the dining experience for students, and this project will give them more name brand options as well as the convenience of a quick-serve store for students on the go. The most challenging part of the process will be keeping the open services functioning while minimizing the disruption.”

    Construction is underway with an expected completion date of mid-August so that students will be able to enjoy the new options in the 2017 fall semester.

    About Leon Williams Contractors

    An experienced commercial design-build firm, Leon Williams Contractors simplifies the building process by effectively managing costs, adhering to deadlines and reducing complications to provide a seamless building experience. As a value-engineering expert, Leon Williams Contractors offers a complete range of services including pre-construction consultation, site assessment, design-build expertise and construction management in the greater Knoxville, Tenn. area.

    For more information, visit www.lwcontractorstn.com or call 865-982-1734.


    Heather Ripley
    Ripley PR

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    Straight to dessert: How the design-build method can save new restaurateurs

    Dairy Queen - Maryville Tennessee - Leon Williams Contractors

    More Americans than ever are dining out, and comfort food is a big draw. People want food that harkens back to their childhood, like meat loaf, chicken and dumplings, and pot pie.

    Your grandmother made a lot of her best dinners from scratch, but she likely still found ways to cut costs and increase efficiencies without sacrificing flavor or quality.

    The same thing can be said of building a restaurant from scratch: A good design-build firm can reduce costs and add value without sacrificing the quality and draw of your new restaurant.

    The Leon Williams team has helped design and build multiple restaurants in Maryville and throughout the Knoxville area, ranging from franchise sites to original casual concepts.

    Having a single contractor that handles both the design and actual construction offers numerous – and cost-saving – benefits, so you can focus on achieving your culinary dreams.

    Here are five ways the design-build approach of the Leon Williams team can cut costs and not quality:

    1. We can leverage our resources to obtain all permits, submit site plans and receive municipal approvals while you can focus on staffing, eventual inventory and furnishings.
    2. We will work with our pre-qualified subcontractors and vendors to provide a high quality job completed on time and on budget.
    3. We can again leverage our contacts to streamline purchase orders, so you can occupy yourself with the menu instead of your restaurant’s mechanics. We can also help prospective restaurateurs with practical, cost-saving advice on elements ranging from flooring types to ceilings.
    4. The time saved using the stream-lined design-build approach means you can open your restaurant or franchise more quickly – leading to faster opening days, which ultimately means more revenue.
    5. We have vast experience in the restaurant construction realm, so we are already familiar with frequent challenges or potential pitfalls that come with building and opening a new eatery.


    It might seem that leaving both the design and construction in the hands of one project manager might cut you out of the loop, but according to testimonials from our customers, rest assured your concerns will be heard, your ideas will be welcome, and your dream of restaurant ownership will come true.


    For more information on how we can assist you with your restaurant construction, contact the team at Leon Williams Contractors today to learn how our knowledge and expertise can be used to your advantage.

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    Finding the right space for your restaurant is key

    Leon Williams Contractors, a commercial and residential design/build company, has developed many commercial, residential and retail buildings in Blount County, Maryville, Knoxville, Lenoir City and East Tennessee, in addition to building and renovating existing spaces for many of the restaurants throughout our area. If you are thinking of starting your own restaurant or other food and drink-based establishment, the design-build experts at Leon Williams Contractors can help you find the best location for your restaurant construction needs.

    Leon Williams Contractors restaurant construction

    We provide a full range of construction services, pre-construction consultation and site assessment, construction management, value engineering, and construction management. We can also help you obtain an existing structure and remodel it if that approach makes more sense to your budget and design plans. The main considerations in Maryville, Blount County and East Tennessee to consider for your restaurant planning include:

    You can’t beat a good location. Our familiarity with Maryville, Blount County and East Tennessee can be leveraged to help you find a high traffic location with access to utilities and other amenities to help maximize your opportunity in the restaurant space. The team at Leon Williams Contractors is experienced in finding the right place for the right business throughout our area and can leverage our experience on your behalf.


    Our wide ranging capabilities related to existing space renovation will allow our team to adapt nearly any space to accommodate your restaurant plans. If we deem the existing spaces aren’t useable, we will design and build your space to appeal to you and your potential customers to help create the best possible result for your restaurant location.


    Is parking nearby? Is the restaurant easy to get to? Are there attractive sidewalks and scenery? Are other restaurants and businesses nearby that attract strolling and walk-by foot traffic? We’ll find out if the building codes in Maryville, Blount County and Knoxville will allow a restaurant space to be created and to ensure that there is adequate water, sewer, electrical and even internet connectivity to accommodate your restaurant design plans.

    We know that starting a restaurant is tough, but when you work with Leon Williams Contractors, we can offer expert restaurant construction and build out advice, assist with planning your space for success and we will can design, build or renovate your new restaurant in your chosen location to help you attain your business ownership dreams.

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    Leon Williams Contractors works with Simple Bites Gourmet

    Simple Bites Gourmet, a healthy meal delivery service, has teamed up with Leon Williams Contractors to find and develop its first retail location.

    “I started cooking for one family and really fell in love with the process,” said Erica T. Hopper, owner and head chef at Simple Bites Gourmet. “I began delivering food in Knoxville a little over a year ago and word spread. I just kept getting more and more business and finally decided it was time to get out of my home kitchen and find a commercial space.” Leon Williams Contractors Simple Bites Gourmet

    Finding the right space wasn’t an easy task for the chef turned business owner. “I knew what I needed, but I didn’t know all the ins and outs of codes and permitting details,” said Hopper. “I had been searching for more than a year before a friend referred me to Leon Williams. It was nice to have someone come in who was knowledgeable about the whole process. They dedicated a lot of time to helping me find the right space. They even wrote a really detailed bid on another space I was looking at and how it wasn’t the right fit for me.”

    The new Simple Bites Gourmet will be located on Sutherland Avenue in the Cherokee Mills building.

    “I was happy to help Erica with the selection process,” said Jimmy Hawkins, president of Leon Williams Contractors. “Finding your first location for a business is a big deal, especially when you’re in the food service industry. There’s a lot that goes into selecting a space that not only works from a financial standpoint, but also from a usefulness standpoint. Is the current space setup for an exhaust hood? Are there provisions for grease? Are the wall and floor surfaces ready for cooking? Are there special fire separations required? How much structural work will need to be done? These are just a few of the questions that needed to be answered in order to find the right location for Erica.”

    Construction on the space began on Monday, May 9, with completion scheduled for early July. A grand opening will be held on July 15, 2016.

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    La Lupita Continues Expansion, Construction Begins on Lenoir City Location

    Leon Williams Contractors begins construction on third location for Hispanic grocery & restaurant


    LENOIR CITY, Tenn. Oct. 30, 2014 — Leon Williams Contractors, a commercial construction company serving East Tennessee, has begun construction on a new La Lupita, an East Tennessee Hispanic restaurant and store, in Lenoir City. The ground-up construction for the new site, located at 510 West Broadway Street, will feature a grocery store, restaurant and Laundromat.

    “This is third store we have opened in the East Tennessee area, and we are excited to have a brand new store for the Lenoir City community,” said Maria Cornejo, co-owner of La Lupita. “We have been working with Leon Williams Contractors for eight years and they have been a part of every La Lupita build and will be in the future, so we are grateful to have them on board again.”

    Currently La Lupita is in a leased space in Lenoir City, but Maria and Manuel were ready to have a permanent location in the area. In addition to the new location, there are also stores in Maryville and Loudon.

    Renowned for its baked goods, La Lupita has become a namesake for authentic Hispanic cuisine in the region. The new retail space will feature 5100 square feet of store and restaurant, in addition to 2100 square feet of a Laundromat that will be adjacent to the food offerings.

    “The new location is a great opportunity for us to showcase our food that are a large part of our heritage, and many others’ in the community,” said Cornejo.

    Leon Williams Contractors broke ground on the third location in Fall 2014, and projects it to be completed by April 2015.

    “Work is underway and we are making progress on getting the new La Lupita up as quickly as possible,” said Jimmy Hawkins, senior partner. “La Lupita means a lot to the communities it serves, so we are excited to help Manuel and Maria expand its reach to the people of Lenoir City.”

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    Project Profile: BucketHead Tavern

    We served as construction managers of BucketHead Tavern (BHT), a unique sports bar located at 8039 Ray Mears Boulevard in Knoxville.

    We oversaw the renovation and coordinated and completed the electrical and plumbing throughout the building, in addition to modifying structural issues and guiding the owner through the process of making sure all aspects were up to code.




    The BHT melds old and new, featuring Old English design with dark wood, stone and architectural tiles throughout the space, a large fireplace for cooler East Tennessee evenings, in conjunction with 10 large plasma TVs and a digital jukebox with surround sound.





    BucketHead Tavern is the only sports bar of its kind in the area, and we enjoyed being a part of bringing this unique gathering place to the Knoxville community.

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