Tips for Restaurant Floor Planning

Tips for Restaurant Floor Planning

Knowing how to create a restaurant floor plan is the most critical step in opening your business. Just as you wouldn’t head off on a trip without a map, opening a restaurant requires a floor plan to maximize your space and profits, as well as establish a style and theme. It’s an essential part of the process, and it’s worth spending the time to make sure you get it right.


Your floor plan quite literally lays the groundwork for every other step in your restaurant’s creation. It sets apart space for different areas of the restaurant, from the kitchen to the dining area to what customers will see when they first walk in.


Not only that, but it establishes how much space each customer needs to be comfortable and how to evenly arrange tables so that your servers have room to move from place to place, making your service more efficient and convenient.


Knowing these essential floor planning tips can help you create the perfect space and experience for customers so they’ll become fans of your restaurant who keep coming back--and bring their friends, too.


Pick Your Restaurant Style and Theme


The style of restaurant you are going to open will determine every other aspect of your floor plan. Is it a fancy sit-down restaurant or a table service establishment that caters to families? Do you want customers to have quick service at a counter, or do you want them to stay awhile?


These different types of restaurants require specific uses of space as well as styles and types of furniture. The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers has guidelines in place for how much space is required per customer in different kinds of restaurants.


For example, a table service restaurant requires 11-14 square feet per customer, while a counter service restaurant has a set square footage of 18-20.


Making these decisions ahead of time and sticking with them will ultimately save you time and help you create a floor plan that is more accurate to your needs.


Decide How to Use the Space You Have


Making sure you use space efficiently is a crucial tip for floor planning and ultimately for running a successful restaurant. The square footage you have available will impact the layout of the restaurant as well as the number of patrons you can seat.


This will, in turn, affect the number of tables you can turn over in a given period of time.


The general rule for dividing up space in a restaurant is 60% for the dining area and 40% for the kitchen and storage areas. Within these limitations, along with the required square footage per customer, you can compute the total seating capacity of your dining space.


general rule for dividing up restaurant space


To do this, divide the net dining area size by the total square feet per customer. For example, let’s say you’re opening a table service restaurant and have 1200 total square feet to work with. If you want to allocate 15 square feet per customer, you would divide 15 from 1200, giving you a total of 80 seats.


Another tip for how to create a restaurant floor plan is to think about how much space you want to leave between tables. This will help avoid congestion, keep your customers comfortable, and allow for efficient service.


Doing the math and considering the way your restaurant will maximize the space you have to work with will ultimately pay off both in terms of your profits and customer satisfaction.


Think About Your Brand

Think about your brand


Your floor plan is where the creation of your brand begins. 


The way you choose to lay out your tables, how you use your space, and the design for your entryway will all impact the kind of atmosphere you’re creating, which will establish key elements of your restaurant’s identity and presentation.


This especially figures into the selection of seating. Just as different types and styles of restaurants carry different expectations for customers, different layouts for your restaurant and types of furniture will help set the tone for what your business offers.


The creation of a brand will also include the environment of your restaurant. If you want your business to be known as an energetic urban spot for nightlife, you’ll have low lighting and a space that allows for loud noise and music.


On the other hand, if you want to create a family restaurant, you’ll have brighter lighting, more surfaces to absorb sound, and maybe even a playground or activities for kids.


Try To Use a Pre-existing Space


There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to building your floor plan. Rather than starting from scratch, try to find an existing space that you can modify to fit your restaurant design.


One restaurant floor planning tip to consider is that using an existing restaurant location can save you a lot of legwork, not to mention money. A full kitchen will already be in place, as well as required plumbing, water lines, and restrooms.


If an existing space fits the vision you have for your restaurant, it’s in your best interest to investigate it before you try to construct something new.


The wrinkle is that before you invest in a building, you need to find out as much as you can about why the previous business closed down.


This information may be difficult to get, especially if the previous owners abandoned the property or aren’t forthcoming about why they are selling. You should, however, try to get as much information as possible before deciding whether to commit to the property.


Don’t Forget About Restrooms


Remember: 60% of your space goes to the dining area and areas customers can access.


And that includes the restrooms.


Believe it or not, it’s common for floor plans to shortchange the restroom in terms of space. This ends up being a bad move for obvious reasons: customers frequently judge a restaurant based on this particular aspect of the experience.


Cleanliness is clearly a big part of these standards, but a small, cramped restroom can also trigger negative reactions from patrons. You want to be sure that the restrooms have sufficient space and sanitation facilities and that they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.


This also means you need to be strategic about where you place restrooms in your floor plan. You want them to be easy for customers to find so they don’t have to awkwardly wander around looking for them, and also should avoid placing them too close to the dining area.


Give Your Customers Enough Space to Wait


Restrooms aren’t the only part of your restaurant where you have to worry about customers having enough space. Your entryway should incorporate enough space for them to comfortably wait for tables.


No one likes to wait a long time to be seated, and being in a cramped area with nowhere to sit or move around only makes an inconvenient situation more uncomfortable.


If they’re packed in like sardines and don’t have enough elbow room, your customers will get agitated, and even worse, they will be more likely to leave before a table can open up.


It’s true that you want to weigh your overall dining space and consider how to best use it, and a spacious waiting area may not always be possible. However, incorporating enough seating and room to comfortably stand will pay off for keeping your customers comfortable.


Choose an Efficient Kitchen Layout

Efficient Kitchen Layout


An important floor planning tip to consider is that not all kitchens are created equal. Restaurants use one of three different layouts, all suited to different types of establishments and services. These include:

  • Assembly line:Food is prepared and served on an assembly line, with facilities in the back for washing and storage. This is most commonly used in sandwich and pizza shops, where similar types of food are quickly ordered and prepared.
  • Island design: The food preparation area is located in the center of the kitchen, with other stations for cooking, cleaning, and serving stationed around the edge of the room.
  • Zone layout: Like an assembly line, each stage of the preparation process has its own assigned area. However, the zone layout allows for more movement around the kitchen rather than keeping employees at individual stations.


To select a kitchen layout, you need to think about the amount of space you have, the foods that will be prepared, and how to balance your needed equipment against the number of people working in the kitchen.


“Too many cooks in the kitchen” isn’t just a saying--it’s critical that you choose a layout that will allow you to do the most in the space you have with the least amount of people.


Look At Your Floor Plan From Your Customer’s Point of View

Floor Plan from Customer's Point of View


Ultimately, the most important restaurant floor planning tip is to consider the actual experience of the customer. When you’ve finished the first draft of your floor plan, mentally walk through it and envision what your patrons will see as they interact with the different parts of the restaurant.


This will allow you to spot places where you haven’t provided enough room for eating, using the restroom, or waiting for a table, as well as locations that may have more space than they need. You can also consider the location of the restroom and the route they’ll have to take from their tables to get there.


Creating your floor plan is the first step you will take in the process of getting your restaurant off the ground.

At Moda Seating, floor planning is what we do. A free Modavational Seating floor planning session with one of our experts will help you get started--simply tell us about your business and provide us with the measurements of your space and we’ll help you do the rest.


Visit online at or call 1-908-557-9457 for more. We can’t wait to show you how Moda Seating takes your restaurant beyond the chair.

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