LOTT Restaurant Construction Takes ‘Ownership’ Of Its Work
LOTT Restaurant Construction has built for national chains and independent restaurants. (Photo credit: Jonathan Kolbe)
When LOTT Restaurant Construction builds a project, it takes “extreme ownership” of the work, President and founder Frank Lott says. As part of this process, the Shillington, Pa.-based company will work closely with its customers.
With this approach, the builder can make sure that its schedules are in sync with the thousands of different parts that comprise a single restaurant. ”We get it done for our client,” he says. “That’s been my reputation throughout my restaurant career.”
A longtime veteran of the construction industry, Lott built his first restaurant in 1992 and started his namesake company in 2013. Over the years, “I’ve built close to 450 restaurants,” he says.
During that time, LOTT Restaurant Construction has built for national chains while also applying what it has learned for independent restaurants, as well. This proved useful when it focused on serving clients in the Northeast who “were looking for a contractor to bring that to the table,” he recalls.
The builder also has brought benefits to its clients by making restaurants its sole specialty. While other contractors focus on additional projects such as retail businesses, banks, hospitals and swimming pools, “All our energy goes into restaurant operations and development,” said Lott.
“Our focus is probably three times as strong as someone who builds projects other than restaurants,” he continues, adding that this has earned the company a high rate of repeat business.
In fact, “Once you talk to me for 15 or 20 minutes, you won’t want anyone else to build your restaurant,” Lott adds. “We know how to talk restaurants, but more importantly walk the walk.”
LOTT Restaurant Construction is seeing trends in its market, including the return of exclusive materials. Vice President and Partner Maxim Parkhomchuk notes that this has included stone, high-end metals and handmade products from overseas.
“Designers are once again taking the elements and creating a show and an customer experience,” he says, noting that the atmosphere and vibe of a restaurant is incredibly important, especially in today’s Instagrammable world. “They’re not just selling food, but an inviting place where everyone’s taking selfies and posting photos nowadays.”
This also has driven a focus on the furniture used in a restaurant, including desk lamp fixtures and plush, comfortable seating. “Those are things that make it more ‘homey’ and to move it to more of a warm, inviting space,” he added.
But like many in the industry, LOTT Restaurant Construction also is coping with labor challenges. “With the economy roaring, all subcontractors are busy,” Lott admits. “It’s harder to find quality craftsmen that can even bid your job, let alone be available to do the work.”
But to solve this problem, Parkhomchuk says, subcontractors and industry organizations need to do more. “We believe a lot of it has to come back to a cultural shift to facilitate more educational trade programs at the local or even federal level,” he says.
Through vocational and trade schools, he explains, new recruits would be able to gain early experience and understand how many career opportunities are available in construction. This would consolidate the gap in the forward “between some of the younger people getting into the trades now and veteran tradesmen exists a void which can not be filled, but we can take action now to be better equipped for the future,” he says.
Frank Lott is proud of his team at LOTT Restaurant Construction, including Parkhomchuk, who joined after operating his own firm that specialized in restaurant renovations. Over the years, “He’s progressed very quickly in the company,” Lott says.
This included Parkhomchuk enjoying success on some of the company’s most difficult projects. “That’s why he’s on track to lead LRC forward,” Lott says, explaining that Parkhomchuk will assume leadership of the firm when he retires.
He also praises the rest of his staff, which has adopted his philosophy of taking responsibility for their work at LOTT Restaurant Construction. “We basically take extreme ownership of everything we touch,” Lott says. “If you walk by and grab a piece of paper out of that fax machine, you are responsible for making sure that it gets to the right person.
“I’m proud that we have such brilliant, committed people here,” he says, adding that his associates always carry a “can-do” attitude. “It’s tough to work here because the bar is set high. Those who get it love it and those who don’t move on. It’s intense, but our work ethic is why we’re so busy. Our clients expect us to deliver their restaurants on time and on budget, and they know that we don’t allow anything or anyone to slow us down.”
Parkhomchuk notes that this attitude is critical at the company, particularly since it serves customers in such a competitive industry. “Our clients are responsible for employing the people who will continue working in these spaces long after we are gone, and they expect to open on a certain day to generate the revenue required for a successful startup,” he says. “Even if we have long ranging challenges come up, we’re very determined [to meet their goals].”
He predicts a busy future ahead for LOTT Restaurant Construction. “I see us building the restaurants of the future, assisting restaurateurs, and developing our team,” Parkhomchuk says, adding that the company will continue specializing on a specialty restaurant contractor role.
This will find the company coordinating multiple aspects of project teams and overseeing the entire project execution spectrum. “We’re moving towards taking on more consultative roles and program development,” he concludes. “These are exciting times in the U.S. restaurant business, and we’re building gorgeous spaces that stand out, which can withstand the test of time and high traffic. We have almost as much fun building the spaces as we have watching the public and press gush over them.”