Restaurant Design and Layout

When it comes to designing your restaurant’s layout, there’s a are several restaurant design methodologies you might find relevant. If you’re in the process of setting up a new restaurant venture, this probably isn’t something you have the time to study in detail, but it’s useful to know the basics.

Visibility and access

Before getting into how the typical restaurant layout and design, it’s worth understanding how the restaurant process works. It’s a service industry, and while there’s a certain amount of leaving your customers alone to enjoy their meal, your staff needs to be able to see the guests, and your guests need to be able to catch the eye of those serving them.

When it comes to a restaurant floor plan, leave enough room between chairs for your service staff to move around, and make sure wherever a table is situated, there’s always a member of staff who can keep an eye on things.

While recent technology developments feature “low-interaction” dining — being able to enter, order, and exit a restaurant without ever speaking to a human being, not every diner is seeking this. And even diners who do enjoy mobile ordering, takeout, and delivery find occasions to dine in and experience the ceremony of being handed a menu, having the specials explained, and have some post-meal chat while paying is all a core part of the dining experience.

Creating separation

It sounds obvious to say that you need to keep your dining, production, and office areas separate, but nearly everyone has eaten in a restaurant with the manager tapping away on their laptop at the next table.

Unless you’re planning on building your own restaurant, you may not have the luxury of creating distance between all these areas on your premises, but it’s worth considering how you can create separation with a change in wall color, flooring, or some temporary barriers.

Entrance

Does your door swing inwards or outwards? What’s the handle made of? Even the smallest detail is important for first impressions.

Waiting Area

You may not have people hanging around for long, but it’s good to have somewhere for them to hang a wet coat.

Bar

Will this be a mix of people staying for the evening and those waiting for a table? Make sure it’s suitable for both.

Dining Room

You might think the more tables you have, the more money you may make, but if the restaurant seating layout is too cramped (or spaced out) people won’t be dining comfortably.

Kitchen

As well as somewhere to cook and wash dishes, consider the practicalities of receiving goods and running inventory checks for an efficient setup.

Restrooms

Keep them away from the core dining area but don’t make them impossible to find — people don’t like asking for directions.

Back Room / Break Room

It’s good to give staff an area to relax in and get changed before and after their shift, ideally with an entrance separate from one used by customers.

Payment Station

Ensure that your payment station is far enough away from your seating area so that customers who are paying do not interrupt those dining.

Outdoor Areas

Think carefully about customers sitting near the door to your patio area — how will they be affected by the constant comings and goings?

Even after considering all of various concerns mentioned above, the restaurant seating layout may still need to be further segmented. This is especially true where families are involved — if a couple is out for a nice relaxing meal, they’d prefer not to be disturbed by boisterous kids, and the families themselves usually prefer to be kept out of the way so they don’t feel like they’re disturbing other diners.

Help set the ambience

There’s a lot to be said for making sure the experience flows well throughout the restaurant floor plan. The interior should match the general theme of the exterior of your restaurant. Walking through the door of a building that’s stacked with history into an ultra-modern restaurant might immediately unsettle your guests.

Lighting is one of the often-underestimated parts of restaurant layout and design, but it can make all the difference. If you’re attracting a lot of couples out on a first date, they’d probably prefer to have the lights dimmed, or even rely on candlelight for a more flattering ambient glow. For restaurants thriving during the breakfast rush, bright lighting will work alongside the caffeine hit to get your guests set up for the day.

“Patrons dining in well-lit spaces are 16-24 percent more likely to order healthy dishes than those in dimly lit rooms, due to higher level of alertness.”

The Journal of Marketing Research »

And last but not least, music. When you get it right, it’s barely noticeable, blending into the background and covering up awkward silences. Get it wrong — either with the volume or the genre — and you’ll turn people away before they’ve had a chance to check out the menu.

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