Restaurant Articles

How to Design the Best Restaurant Floor Plan

By July 26, 2016 No Comments

Improve Customer Satisfaction and Maximize Space with an Efficient Floor Plan

Every restaurateur knows that choosing the most efficient seating arrangement is vital for increasing sales and creating a positive customer experience. You want to maximize the space that you have available, but you also need to ensure that your customers feel comfortable and at ease.

Is your restaurant set up making customers feel cramped? Read on to learn about some common mistakes made when designing restaurant floor plans, and then figure out how to fix them. 

Before Designing a Restaurant Floor Plan, Do Some Research

Before you start drawing up layouts, you’ll want to do some preliminary research, thinking, and planning. Your answers to the following questions will guide how you design the rest of your dining room, so spend some time thinking about:

  • How large is the establishment?
  • What type of dining experience are you offering?
  • Does the type of food you’re serving affect seating? For example, a fast-casual restaurant will have dramatically different needs than a fine dining establishment.
  • Are there any potential safety concerns? Possible areas of concern include the kitchen, a busy bar area and others.
  • What kinds of tables and chairs do you want to use? A communal dining area will be set up differently than booths or smaller tables.

Answer these questions and study some floor plans of other successful and similar restaurants. Once you have a solid idea about your available space, the character of your restaurant and other small details, you can begin thinking about design.

Rules for a Restaurant Floor Plan

You aren’t in this alone. Experts in the restaurant business have come up with several parameters for how much floor space to use, how much to leave open and other related dimensions. The publication Total Food Service suggests that the dining area should take up the most space, followed by the kitchen and prep areas. 

How much space does each patron need?

Next, you’ll want to determine how much space you want to allocate for each potential customer based on maximum occupancy. This will be different for various types of restaurants, but Total Food Service once again suggests some helpful guidelines:

  • Fine Dining: 18 – 20 Square Feet
  • Full Service Restaurant Dining: 12 – 15 Square Feet
  • Counter Service: 18 – 20 Square Feet
  • Fast Food Minimum: 11 – 14 Square Feet
  • Service, Hotel/Club:  15 – 18 Square Feet
  • ‏Banquet, Minimum: 10 – 11 Square Feet

How to Space Tables and Chairs

Now that you know how many square feet each patron requires, you can determine how to space your tables and chairs. You want everything to flow well while keeping the environment safe and spacious. SeatingExpert.com suggests leaving at least 18 inches between each occupied chair, 42 – 60 inches between each square table, and between 24 – 30 inches between corners of diagonal tables.

To save space you can also incorporate booths, diagonal seating, and deuce tables.

Designing the Floor Plan

Now, it’s time to draw up some layouts. Create a plan that includes all of the restaurant’s features, and even draw in things like columns, walls, and any other partitions.

Diners like to feel “anchored” to a wall or partition, and they even spend more money when they’re in anchored seating. You can anchor tables to walls, cozy nooks, curtains, screens, columns, or other permanent fixtures.  But, floating tables that aren’t attached to anything also promote higher turnover, so you’ll want a mix of seating styles. There are also different furniture guidelines available that can help you determine how large your tables should be, how tall, and more.

Don’t be Afraid of Altering Your Seating Arrangements

If you decide on a floor plan for your restaurant’s dining area and it doesn’t seem to be working – just go back to the beginning and design another setup. You can ask for feedback from your employees and from diners, and soon enough you’ll have the perfect dining room floor plan for your unique establishment.