There are many components that go into making any restaurant a success, but one of the most important factors is the restaurant floor plan. The restaurant floor plan is critical to representing the overall concept of your restaurant. It needs to make optimal utilization of your available space while addressing the needs of the business and guests.
In this article:
In this article, you’ll learn how to make the best use of your space when opening a new restaurant and creating your restaurant floor plan.
1. The Entrance
The entrance is the first and last impression your restaurant makes on guests. It has two main functions; to be inviting and represent the essence of your restaurant. This is the first visual and tactile experience your guests have when entering your restaurant, so ensure your restaurant’s interior design carries through into the other areas of the floor plan.
The entrance also needs to balance between being big enough for guests to gather if there’s a wait while, at the same time, not taking space away from the dining room and bar. It also needs to intuitively direct the flow of traffic into the dining area as smoothly as possible. The entrance should be addressed in the restaurant floor plan only after designating your kitchen and dining spaces.
2. Dining Area Layouts
The dining area is the soul of your restaurant. Guests spend the majority of their time in this area, so your primary goal should be to create a comfortable environment. The dining area should ideally include the waiting area, takeaway counter, seating area and POS terminals. Your interiors in the dining area should be in sync with the concept of your restaurant and create a cohesive flow throughout the entire area.
a) Waiting Area
This area tends to be overlooked in a lot of restaurant floor plans. But doing so means guests end up with a not-so-comfortable experience as they stand packed into a small area by the entrance while waiting for their table. Even if space is really limited, at the very minimum, make sure you leave enough room for a small number of guests to wait.
The waiting area offers you an opportunity to show great hospitality. Elements like implementing a free coat check would help make guests’ experiences more comfortable. You could also have a host standing in the waiting area to keep guests informed and at ease as they wait for their table.
In the example restaurant floor plan below, there is ample room for guests to sit while they wait for their table.
TIP: To better manage your restaurant’s waitlist, be sure to integrate a waitlist app into your restaurant’s technology services. Check out the best waitlist apps in 2020.
b) Bar Area
The bar area provides additional value to a the overall layout of your restaurant. The bar gives your customers another option to hang out in while they wait to be seated the counter seating can be used if diners prefer that style of seating during their meal.
Even if you are tight on space, a bar or countertop dining area can be very worthwhile in generating revenue. Bars tend to be a better use of space than larger waiting areas or vestibules, as your guests can purchase drinks while they wait to be seated. Plus, this type of area requires a smaller footprint in dining room space since guests are used to bars being more cramped than a typical table.
Your bar top can also be positioned next to your kitchen area, which maximizes your restaurant floor plan space and adds the ability for food to be delivered through the kitchen-to-bar window.
Below is an example of a restaurant floor plan that incorporates a bar alongside the kitchen.
Source: Raymond Haldeman Designs
c) Seating Area
The seating area presents two important problems for your restaurant to solve; having enough tables to seat your guests and having non-congested pathways for foot traffic to navigate the restaurant. If you have enough space, the seating area should ideally be designed with at least three sizes of tables or booths to accommodate small, medium and large groups.
The space along the window can be used for small two-person tables while the middle section is best utilized for larger parties. Allow for 3 to 4 ft between each table for easy movement of servers and guests throughout the seating area.
In the restaurant floor plan example below, booths and smaller 2-seater tables maximize your restaurant’s wall space. Integrating these with your larger dining tables for bigger parties gives guests the ability to choose their seating. There’s also plenty of bar seating to maximize the number of people who can be seated in the restaurant.
Depending on the shape of your tables, they can be rearranged throughout your floor plan to fit groups and large families dining at your restaurant. This allows gives your restaurant manager the ability to rearrange the space of the floor layout depending on the occasion.
Source: Raymond Haldeman Designs
d) Outdoor Area
While patios are perfect for outdoor dining, consider how to make the best use of this space throughout the year, depending on your climate. If you experience mild winters, you might want to consider creating an enclosed space with a fire pit, heaters and blankets so that the area can still be used to generate revenue. You could also consider using the space for live entertainment or events.
Building an outdoor bar station is also another way to generate greater revenue using the patio space. It might take away from seating, but cocktails can be a high profit menu item, especially during warm summer nights.
Outdoor spaces are tricky, as you’ll need to ensure tables are positioned with enough space for serves to walk through, umbrellas and canopies, and any greenery to ensure guests and servers can easily walk through without obstructions. Outdoor areas are great for restaurant lighting, adding to your business’s atmosphere.
Below is an example of a restaurant floor plan with outdoor space that’s being utilized as a dining area.
Source: Source: EVStudio
e) POS terminals or Billing System Area
The quantity and placement of your restaurant POS system can drastically affect your business’s efficiency. They should be placed in areas that are easy for servers to access and don’t cause obstruction in the flow of traffic.
It’s a good idea to include several POS terminals throughout the dining area; one for bartenders, one for hosts, and one for servers. The example below has placed POS stations near the kitchen to facilitate easier communication between the front of dining room and back of dining room, and at the bar.
Source: Raymond Haldeman Designs
3. The Kitchen
In most restaurant floor plans, the kitchen takes up about 40% of the space, including food preparation, cooking area, server pickup areas, and dishwashing. Most designers place the kitchen first before adding in the other areas. The best kitchen design layout for you needs to be customized to your specific operations and restaurant concept.
The kitchen has to have adequate space for all of the equipment, as well as ample room for staff to work and move around quickly. Necessary equipment can include ovens, stoves, broilers, fryers, a dish machine, triple sinks, and plenty of shelf space. A prep area and industrial sinks usually accompany dry storage space.
The most common types of kitchen layouts are listed below:
a) Island-Style Layout
The island kitchen in the middle of the area allows for plenty of movement between stations, and the open concept makes it easier for supervision. Anything that has to do with cooking and food preparation is located in the middle of the room, while everything else is situated around the outside of the main cooking area. This increases efficiency similarly to an assembly line, with food being prepared around the cooking area.
b) Zone-Style Layout
A Zone kitchen layout works well in a wide variety of kitchen sizes and shapes, so it’s especially great for kitchens with very limited space. Servers have easy access to the kitchen and food prep areas, being a perfect floor plan design for businesses that have a hybrid kitchen/food prep model.
c) Assembly Line Layout
This kitchen design is the most popular type of restaurant layouts. The assembly line layout is the perfect design for restaurants with a high-volume kitchen because it moves food along quickly. This layout also works well with restaurants that are only producing one item, such as a Subway or Chipotle.
4. The Restrooms
The restrooms are the most underrated element when designing a restaurant floor plan. Most guests will visit the restroom during their stay, so it contributes to the overall experience they have with your restaurant. To make it comfortable, it should be large enough to accommodate multiple guests without infringing on the main restaurant floor – maximizing dining-room space.
Make sure there is a clear divide between restrooms and the dining area, but easily accessible, especially for those with mobility difficulties or small children. In the example below, restrooms are placed near the entrance. This makes it convenient for those in the waiting area or guests who have finished their meal and are on their way out of the restaurant.
Source: Raymond Haldeman Designs
Think of your restaurant floor layout in terms of how traffic flows: it’s the backbone of your entire restaurant. It pulls together how guests will navigate from the bar, restrooms, dining areas, and more. Consider how guests will navigate your restaurant and be sure that every design decision is made with a purpose in mind.
5 Tips for Designing Your Restaurant Floor Plan Layout
1. Use the 60:40 rule for space allocation
Ideally, a restaurant floor plan should allocate 60% of available space to the dining area (i.e. front of house) and the other 40% to the kitchen, storage, freezer, etc. (i.e. back of house).
2. Check your local state requirements
In many states, you have to submit a floor plan to the city to get a restaurant permit for the construction of a new restaurant. Check with your local government office to see what is required so that you have everything taken into account at the start of your design stage, such as building codes.
3. Consider your short- and long-term business goals
It’s tempting to cut corners when designing the layout of your restaurant to save on budget. But the risk is that in the long run, you may face problems, renovations, or additional purchases that could have been avoided. Consider a ten- or twenty-year business plan when deciding where and how to spend money during the restaurant floor plan design process.
4. Dedicate your costs toward revenue-generating elements
It’s easy to get carried away or lose sight of the overall concept during the design process. Focus your attention on the aspects that will create a great guest experience and increased workflow efficiencies. For most restaurants, this includes the entrance, bar, dining room and kitchen.
5. Create an efficient workflow from front to back of house
Consider how to ensure there is workflow efficiency in your restaurant floor plan between the front and back of house. Your serving staff need a clear path from the kitchen to the dining room, and kitchen staff need to easily access storage items.
Next Steps for Your Restaurant Design and Launch
As with any operation, the business evolves over time, and sometimes sooner than later. When creating your restaurant floor plan, consider how your business will be able to accommodate growth and generate the greatest amount of revenue in order to be long-lasting.
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