Your dream of opening up your restaurant is about to become a reality. You found the perfect location in the busiest area with a lot of foot traffic. You already have a niche and amassed your perspective staff. So what’s missing? Regardless of the size, location, or type of venue you will be operating, a basic restaurant layout plan is the foundation of your business. It should include general areas from the entrance, to the kitchen and bathroom. Unfortunately, a lot of these areas get overlooked in a general restaurant layout design as new restaurant owners concentrate more on the dining room. Paying attention to even the smallest detail in a layout and design plan at your new location can maximize comfort and efficiency thus producing a positive dining experience for your customers.
The Basics: Maximizing Comfort & Efficiency
It’s every restaurant owner's dream to see their dining space crowded with visitors. Regardless of the concept you adopt, the dining room is the heart of your restaurant. The design layout of a restaurant would typically include seating, wait stations, and storage. The right number of restaurant tables creates a balance between generating revenue and developing the ideal ambience for guests. But how many seats are too many or not enough? We all possess the natural urge to utilize every square foot and inch of space to the maximum. But there are several factors to consider before you configure a restaurant layout plan:
- Targeted audience
In short, you need to think of a way to increase your profit margins without sacrificing comfort, customer service and ambiance. One should not cancel out the other.
Elements of a Restaurant Floor Plan
Some restaurateurs may choose to use a restaurant floor planning software. Others may leave the floor planning process to professionals who know how to maximize space so they can focus on the interior design of their restaurants. As a general rule, one size fits all does not apply to a restaurant floor plan. Even before you commence the process, it’s very crucial to understand the basics of a restaurant floor plan and already know which elements you want to use for your restaurant concept.
Not everyone can get pass the surface. More often than not, people will not choose to visit a restaurant if the exterior is far from appealing; at which point the service or quality of food is moot. The entrance area to a new restaurant can draw or ward off customers. Depending on your theme, you can enhance your restaurant entrance with lighting, awning, flowers and music. While the dining room, kitchen and bar are essential to a restaurant design, you should not underestimate the impression that an entrance can leave on people.
Not all restaurants have enough space to include a waiting area in their layout plans. If they do, they may opt to keep it separate from the dining room. Or they might use the waiting room as an extension to the bar area. If you decide to include a waiting room, it should provide your customers with comfortable seating along with some menus for them to peruse as they wait for their tables. The waiting area is also a great place to display advertisement of events that your restaurant will host.
The restaurant ambiance and design can carry all the way from the exterior and make its way into the restroom. Restrooms, therefore, should be checked and cleaned out regularly. The manager or host can be assigned with the task of refilling toilet paper, using paper towels or installing hand dryers, to taking out the trash. Aside for that, restrooms should be accessible rather than tucked away in some obscure place causing guests to wander around the dining room looking for them. The layout of a restroom should also allow ample room for stalls and wheelchair access.
Balancing the Seating Capacity of your Dining Space
The design and layout of a restaurant binds the ambiance and the seating capacity together. At least, that is its purpose. You want to be able to attract large crowds of customers but at the same token, you want to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome. Some restaurants prioritize seating capacity over interior design, specifically diners. If you are limited in space, you may be tempted to fit in as many restaurant chairs as possible. But doing so can interfere with wait service, making it difficult for staff to deliver food between tables and hard for customers to enjoy their meals. When you set up restaurant tables, you should leave 24 to 30 inches of space apart from each other.
Meeting your customers seating preferences is also important. Some patrons may like to sit in the back corner while others prefer to sit closer to the bar or in view of the kitchen. Having a variety of seating options is one of many ways to ensure customer satisfaction. But the level of comfort should take precedent. If you find restaurant chairs to consume too much space, restaurant booths may be a better seating option for you. Akin to chairs, booths come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and designs. Swivel bar stools are also another seating option that maximizes efficiency and comfort with their swivel mechanism and durable built.
As long as you are flexible with your layout plans and restaurant furniture arrangements, you can avoid future problems that may arise. Allowing furniture to be moved for large social events or broken apart for smaller affairs can be very accommodating. When it comes to restaurant table spacing, you need to make sure that there is enough space in the dining room for customers and staff to maneuver around. Hence, prep or hosting stations should be kept further away in the dining room or out of the dining room altogether. These stations not only take up too much space but they make the dining room look cluttered which can negate the ambiance.
Components of a Small Restaurant Kitchen Design and Layout
When people think of restaurant kitchens, they visualize stove tops, ovens, grills, fryers, and an angry chef barking out orders. This may be a common scenario among many restaurants, but there is more to a restaurant kitchen than equipment, appliances and kitchen utensils, and staff working in the back of the house. A well designed restaurant kitchen features specific components fashioned in a specific pattern to optimize efficiency in performance and service. Furthermore, some restaurateurs may set up and design their kitchen to match the restaurant concept and décor. While the style and layout of restaurant kitchens may vary, they all have these components:
- Food preparations
There is no perfect formula for a small restaurant kitchen design layout. Each dining/food service establishment is unique and operates differently. Ultimately, the decision to meet your restaurant kitchen goals falls on your shoulders. You can arrange an appointment to meet with local or state inspectors to review your preliminary kitchen design plans. Health codes and safety regulations must be met. That way, you will receive updates on potential demands for changes in the kitchen design so that all requirements are honored and followed through. Trends in cooking are evolving and making sure that your kitchen is flexible will enable you to respond to market demands that may be made in the future. Make sure that your equipment is up to date. You may need to create separate working zones within the kitchen as well: food cleaning zone, cutting, baking, frying, cooking, and other areas. With each employee working in his/her zone, you can prevent or minimize unnecessary collision, chaos, and tensions in the kitchen.
For more information about creating an efficient and welcoming restaurant design we recommend reading our restaurant design guide.