Essential Restaurant Design Guidelines for the Optimum Utilisation of Floor Area in Restaurants

how to create a restaurant design and floor plan

For making any restaurant a success, lot of components ranging from management to décor, to staff to food and to location and more plays a role, but one of the most important aspects of making a restaurant successful is the restaurant design. Well-designed restaurant floor plan aides in the achievement of a restaurant owner’s business plan. Creating a restaurant design and floor plan involves knowing every anthropometrical viability, that is, the space required for human sitting and movement,  the space you have, and making optimum utilization of the space keeping in mind the requirements of your restaurant business. For this, the Restaurant Design and the Restaurant Interior Design need to be in total sync with each other. We have already covered Restaurant Interior Design earlier; in this article, we will be focusing on how to create a Restaurant Design and Floor Plan that makes a complete use of the area available.

The main motive of a restaurant’s Floor plan is organizing the available space with respect to the requirement of furniture in the restaurant in the most efficient way. The basic component of any restaurant interior is the chair and the table. Depending upon restaurant type, menu, service table setting and the degree of intimacy required, table size and overall chair space requirements can and should vary greatly. A restaurant that encourages rapid turnover of customers will normally provide smaller table top and chair. On the other hand, restaurants that encourage limited turnover and emphasize the wining and dining experience will typically provide larger table top sizes and larger and more comfortable chairs.

Apart from the anthropometrical and ergonomic requirements, there are many other design factors that play an influential role in designing an optimum floor plan for a restaurant. These are namely-

  • Circulation and egress- This is the movement of the people, how the staff and the customers are able to move around and enter and exit the restaurant.
  • Methods of service (self or monitored)- The restaurant design will very much depend on whether the staff would serve the food, or if it is a self-service restaurant.
  • The overall dimension of the given space- The restaurant design heavily depends upon the overall dimension and area available. Based on this, the architect would draft the restaurant design and create a floor plan. 

You need to hire an architect or an interior designer who would help you with your restaurant design and floor plan. The architect would be able to come up with the spatial configurations and draw up the floor plans to make sure that the layout is safe with the most pleasant ambience. He will be the one dealing with where and how to build a wall, design a staircase and how to structure and collaborate various elements and principles of design in generating a harmonious and a functional floor plan.  You would also need a contractor who would be responsible for supervising the construction. The contractor can implement the design and guarantee the on-time completion of the construction work. However, at the same time, the restaurant owner has to ensure that there is coordination between the architect and the contractor.

Features of an Efficient Restaurant Design and Floor Plan

Below are few of the most important features that one should keep in mind to make any restaurant design and floor plan efficient.

1. Human Comfort

Human comfort in an indoor space primarily relies on thermal comfort and indoor air quality (achieved by temperature, humidity control good and ventilation), lighting and acoustic comfort.

2. Thermal Comfort and Indoor Air Quality

The internal heat gains are very high in all restaurants (especially in kitchens) due to cooking, lighting, electrical equipment and the number of clients. HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) forms an important feature and consideration for achieving a functional restaurant design.

3. Lighting

Lighting Design aims to enable the occupant to work and move around in safety. It provides for our visual needs, and also safety and security. People intuitively know that light affects their mood. The challenge while designing lighting is to understand under what circumstances certain visual conditions might be better than others and to use that knowledge to design lighting systems that improve overall performance and human comfort. In fact, restaurant interior colours also play an important role in the comfort and perception of the customers. Read how restaurant interior colours impact customers’ food choices here. 

4. Acoustic

People talking, background noise or sound and architectural design of the restaurant itself impacts the overall acoustical quality of space. The quality of ambient sound in a restaurant straightaway regulates the user experience and ultimately the feedback. The average noise level of a typical restaurant during a dining rush is 80 dB (some reach as much as 110 dB). Restaurants traditionally have carpeted floors and soft furnishings and upholstered chairs, tablecloths and curtains which provide sound absorbing qualities. Recent trends lean towards a modern look which generally includes high ceilings and hard surfaces; though these features are aesthetically pleasing, they are known to produce excessive room echo. As these venues are usually fast-paced and crowded, this makes for an uncomfortably loud environment. A balance needs to be created in terms of aesthetics and desired acoustical levels for ultimate human comfort.

5. Optimum Utilization of Seating and Smooth Circulation

The plan should be made in such a way that allows the servers to move easily with food and beverages in the restaurant and also allows the guests to move in and out of the restaurant freely. Floor plans should also provide customers with enough elbow room.
The areas for specific function need to be decided in such a way that the seating space is maximized without compromising on the customers’ level of comfort. Allocating enough space to work comfortably and efficiently in each area is important. Your plan should focus on the comfort and enjoyment of your customers while maintaining an efficient circulation pattern.  

6. Safety Concerns

There should be sufficient space between tables. For instance, if there’s an emergency and you need to evacuate the building, having clear pathways to the exits is an important part of keeping everyone safe. Wide paths should be built to avoid employees and guests alike tripping and hurting themselves as they navigate your dining room.

Components to be Included in Restaurant Design and Floor Plan

Essential Restaurant Design Guidelines for the Optimum Utilisation of Floor Area in Restaurants

Although specific layouts vary according to the type and size of the restaurant, most floor plans include similar components. The spatial arrangement within the floor plan should be in such a way that that two primary functional spaces i.e. “the front of the house”- constituting of the entrance, waiting lobby, POS, Dining area, Bar/Lounge are well connected to the back of the house”- constituting of the kitchen, pantry, storage, service entry and administration areas. The designer needs to find a balance of connectivity and privacy of this area. As a thumb rule, it is important to understand that the back of the house and its functioning needs to be hidden from the customers.

1. The Entrance

The entrance of your restaurant casts the first impression of your restaurant on the customer. The form of an entrance gives a preview to the type of space a patron is going to enter.  A well-designed restaurant should ideally provide ample space that is welcoming and should evoke a curiosity in the customer to come in and dine. The act of entering can be signified in more subtle ways than just puncturing a hole in the wall. The entry can be an elaborate one which emphasizes the opening or can bring forth the theme of the restaurant. For example, a Greek-style theme would have an elaborated and articulated gateway, rough-worn distressed wooden furniture at the front desk, white and navy/sky blue colour paint for the walls and additional Greek style light fixtures.

Your Restaurant Entrance should be:

  • Able to draw people in and make them feel immediately comfortable.
  • Well maintained & easy to open.
  • Inviting and welcoming.

While evaluating your entrance, focus on these components:

  • Does the design allow staff to greet people really well?
  • Does it make your customer when they come in your restaurant feel welcomed?
  • Does it allow a free-flowing circulation for customers as well as the staff?

2. Dining Room Layouts

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The dining area of a restaurant is the soul of the place. The customer spends 98% of the time in this area.
While designing the dining room layout, your primary aim should be that your customers be comfortable in the seating area and enjoy their food. The design for the dining space centres on the seating area and capacity of seating.  The Dining Area as you can see in the image below should ideally include customer waiting area, customer takeaway counter, seating area and POS terminals.  Your interiors of the dining area have to be designed depending on the concept and the theme of your restaurant. This, of course, would also depend on the area available and the theme of the restaurant. Your dining area setting should be in sync with the theme of your restaurant.  

a) Seating Area
The seating area should be designed with at least three sizes of tables with the motive to accommodate small, medium and large parties accordingly. The window area space can be used for small two-person tables. Similarly, the middle section can be best utilized for accommodating larger parties. Between every dining table, there should be standard of 3-4 ft to avoid any kind of chaos and disturbance. There should be ample space that allows for the free and seamless movement of the servers.

b) Waiting Area
The waiting area is often overlooked while creating restaurant designs. Overlooking this area results in diners waiting for the table. There should be enough space for guests where they could wait for dining.

 c) POS terminals or Billing System Area
The POS system should be positioned at a place which will maximize the efficiency.  There should be the minimization of the staff running back and forth between the payment stations.
Your restaurant design should be structured to get as many tables as you can into your dining room. The number of tables could greatly affect how many tables turn (and checks) you have in a shift.

3. The Kitchen

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One of the most important components of your Restaurant Design and Floor Plan is your Kitchen Area. The kitchen is designed primarily taking into consideration the views of the Head chef, kitchen consultant, architect and the contracting firm representative.  The kitchen consultant is responsible for the design and usually providing the kitchen items like Stainless steel units, ductable chimneys, freezing units and others. The electrical and plumbing services are provided by the contracting firm with a consultation of the kitchen consultant and the architect. A well-laid out kitchen will make your staff happy and more efficient in their work.

Include the Following Aspects in Your Restaurant Kitchen Design

The Kitchen design of the restaurant design and floor plan should ideally have the following aspects:

  • Specific kitchen working zones- Specific kitchen working zones should be defined in the kitchen floor plan. Namely, pre-preparation area, food assembly and packing, and washing area.
  • Designated spaces Kitchen and food storage areas include designated spaces for cooking equipment, food preparation and dishwashing, as well as cold and dry food storage.
  • Enabling movement of the kitchen staff– The layout shall be made in such a way that allows the kitchen staff to move in quickly, swiftly and efficiently. Providing enough space is critical to avoid accidents as well.
  • Good ventilationEnsure proper ventilation in your restaurant kitchen as it is necessary for the health of your restaurant staff and also reduces the chances of the various items being prepared in the kitchen waft to the dining area.
  • Employees restrooms: You may also choose to include an office, employee bathrooms or a break room in the back of the house.

Allocating  Adequate Space For Different Areas In The Kitchen

An efficient Restaurant kitchen floor plan shall include adequate space for receiving and storing goods, inventory, water closet, prep areas, cooking stations, food storage, water closet, dishwashing zone, inventory, equipment. It is always suggested that equipment with similar functions shall be stored together and after their use, they should be kept in their proper place. 

Kitchen Cooking Area

This is one of the most important zones of the kitchen area where the actual food preparation will take place. All the equipment like burners, oven, grills, tandoor and other equipment needed for the operations pre-decided will have to be positioned in this area.

Prep Area

This is the area where most of your kitchen prep happens.  The prep area needs to be well equipped to accommodate all the ingredients needed for the preparation of the food.

Storage Area

The storage area should be well equipped to store all the dry goods that are mostly bought in bulk such as rice, flour, sugar, lentils, oils, whole spices and spice powders.  This space shall be designed and maintained regularly so that it is moisture free and free of pests and rodents.   The store area is generally designed adjacent to the kitchen. It serves as a facility storage facility for both the kitchen and dining items of the restaurant.

Cold Storage

Another crucial element of the kitchen design is the cold storage area.  There is a continuous need for cold rooms, deep freezers and perishables to stock perishable like meat, seafood and frozen food.  The facilities that you would need in your cold storage will depend on the quantity the restaurant handles.  The maintenance of the cold storage also need to be done.

Washing Area

The washing area in the restaurant should be allotted the maximum space for the workflow to be smooth. The washing space should be equipped to accommodate to wash the large cooking vessels, cutlery, crockery and other utensils. There should also be a space where the used cutlery, crockery, utensils would be kept for washing.

Pantry area

A pantry is a room or a ready to serve area where beverages, food, and sometimes dishes and others as decided by the head chef.

Staff personal area

There should be a space for staff toilet. A small area can also be created for staff where they could change their uniforms and keep their personal belongings or things they would need for their personal use.

4. Restrooms

It is undisputed that the restaurant owners need to pay ample attention to the food and services offered by them, but at the same time the cleanliness of the restaurant especially the restrooms form an integral part of the customer’s dining experience. The restrooms are divided into male and female sections. Special attention should be given to this area as it is usually ignored in the planning stage. Restrooms leave a lasting impression on the mind of the customer. They should have sufficient lighting and easy to clean and maintain. Every customer will appreciate sparkling, clean and large enough restrooms to accommodate multiple guests.

While designing the restrooms area, following points shall be kept in mind:

  • The restrooms should be easy to access for the customers without unnecessary wandering.
  • It is advisable that the restrooms shall also have wheelchair access for catering to the specific needs of physically challenged customers.
  • It is necessary that the restaurant restrooms should be properly equipped with sanitation facilities, especially trash disposal, and have proper designated space on the bathroom floor plan.
  • The restrooms should also be equipped with proper lighting.

5. Electrical Services

The electrical part of the restaurant is a fundamental and crucial aspect both of the operations and safety of the establishment. Depending on the location the wiring, termination, lighting fixtures, cabling need to be taken care of both professionally and diligently. Location for the main control panels, Generators etc has to be planned systematically.

A restaurant design and floor plan are ultimately a balancing act between various, functional needs and requirements of a restaurant. Designing your restaurant floor plan might seem a little easier task as compared to financing, licensing or construction that goes along with starting a business. But Floor plan is a critical aspect of an effective restaurant design.  You know your restaurant floor plan is poor when there have been instances in your restaurant when any customer might have smacked his head with a server while passing through a tight corner, or a customer might have had to sit with a stranger to let someone else pass through the aisle way. Therefore, you should always avoid these disastrous situations by analyzing your restaurant’s specific needs before jumping into the design.

Inputs taken from: Ar. Mansha Samreen (Asst. Prof MBS School of Planning and Architecture)

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