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How to Create a Restaurant Floor Plan

Why is a restaurant floor plan essential? Few customers probably give a second thought to the layout of their favorite restaurant, but they need to have plenty of space and easy access. The configuration can make or break an experience.

When designing a restaurant, one should think about its food quality, customer service, and layout. A well-designed floor plan can increase profit margins by enabling servers to move more quickly between kitchen areas or back areas with customers in tow.

You may not realize it, but your restaurant floor plan is one of the most important tools for day-to-day operations. So it’s worth taking time to create a great one.


What Is a Restaurant Floor Plan?

A restaurant floor plan is a blueprint that maps out the layout of your entire establishment. Click To Tweet

It shows how far and where rooms, tables, service, and waiting areas are located about one another.

It also shows where fixtures like doors, windows, electrical outlets, water heaters, and furnaces are located.


Why Does a Restaurant Need a Floor Plan?

restaurant floor plan

Restaurant floor plans are essential for service staff, as they help them know where to go and what is expected of them. It also supports new hires in understanding the restaurant space: waiting area, bar, dining room, prep kitchen, etc.


Who Designs a Restaurant Floor Plan? 

Investing in a professional architect and interior designer with restaurant industry experience is worth the cost. A well-thought-out floor plan will avoid mistakes that would have been costly to fix.

If you are considering designing your restaurant interior, it’s important to remember that architects and designers both have their specialties.

Architects focus on the structural integrity of a building while also ensuring ample space for tables, booths, etc. Still, they may not be as skilled at drawing up an aesthetically pleasing design plan.

Interior designers specialize in creating beautiful spaces within those parameters; together with an architect or engineer (depending on the type of work), they can help make sure everything fits appropriately.


When to Create Your Restaurant Floor Plan?

When looking for a commercial space, it’s imported essential one that can be easily converted into your restaurant. The floor plan is usually created simultaneously when searching for this type of property.


Restaurant Floor Plan Considerations

The six essential factors that you need to consider when deciding on your restaurant layout are:

restaurant floor plan

1. Building codes and regulations

A professional who has experience in building codes can help you create a floor plan that will be legal.

For example, to have a legal food service facility in San Francisco, you must be equipped with 3-compartment sinks and handwashing stations. If there is an ice maker on the premises, a floor drain will also need to exist.

The building codes for restaurants are stringent. mManythings in building codes must be primary factored into a restaurant’s design.

2. Accessibility

When it comes to making the workplace accessible, many things need to be considered. For example, make sure all of your employees and customers have access by including wheelchair ramps for those with mobility issues. In 1992, The Department of Justice passed the Aman Disabilities Act (ADA), which ensures that every customer or employee has equal accessibility.

Bars are often inaccessible to people with limited mobility. They have a hard time sitting or standing on high stools, so bar counters need an accessible section for them.

Nastaran Mousavi of Studio Bana mentions that work areas and restrooms should be accessible for customers. She also says, “every area of your establishment should be readily accessible to everyone in the building.”

3. Budget

Opening a restaurant is not cheap, so budgeting can limit how much of the space you’re able to change. 

According to a survey from Restaurant Owner, this is the cost of opening a restaurant:

  • The average low total startup cost for restaurants: $175,000
  • The average median total startup cost for restaurants: $375,000
  • The average high total startup cost for restaurants: $750,000

4. Efficiency

The layout of your restaurant and the flow for customers is also primary consideration. Will they order at the counter and have their food brought to them? Or will servers take orders, deliver food, and then bring it back when it’s ready?

A restaurant can do everything in its power to minimize the number of steps it takes for servers to get food from the kitchen and deliver it. Click To Tweet

The less time they spend carrying plates typically means more money.

5. Aesthetic

To design a restaurant, you need first to decide what kind of service model the establishment will have. After that, you need to think about things like interior decor and customer experience.

What would you like the vibe to be? Homey? Funky? Also, your restaurant’s service model, menu, and aesthetic should collectively make sense to entice customers who fit your desired psychographic and demographic profile.

“Before we start designing a restaurant, bar, or cafe,” Mousavi says, “we have extensive conversations with our clients to understand what kind of experience they want to have. For example, before planning on the interior design, we need concrete answers for how they want people in their space and what type of engagement will happen there? These are questions that help us make informed decisions about where each element should go.”

Mousavi recommends making at least part of the service area visible from outside. “People go where people are,” she explains. If a restaurant is packed, it sends signals to customers about how good the food might be.

That’s what the Montreal-based vegan restaurant Tendresse did. They’ve made the service area and bar customer-facing, which means passersby can quickly look inside, check out what’s going on there, see who is eating there and get an overall sense of the atmosphere.

6. Square footage per customer

The square footage allocated to each guest depends on the type of restaurant you want to establish. Restaurant table sizes also vary, depending on the owners’ preference and the style of service. 

When designing a restaurant, you need to plan for the size of your tables and seats based on what type of cuisine it will serve.

The amount of space you allocate to each customer in your restaurant depends on the type of service. 

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Fast food dining: 11 to 14 sq ft. per person
  • Counter service: 18 to 20 sq. ft. per customer
  • Full-service dining: 12 to 15 sq. ft. per customer
  • Fine dining: 18 to 20 sq. ft. per customer


Restaurant Floor Plan Must-have’s

When you’re designing your restaurant floor plan, make sure to include a visual representation of each section:

restaurant floor plan

1. Kitchen

The layout and size of a kitchen vary depending on the type of food being prepared. Open kitchens have become more prevalent in recent years, as people often enjoy watching chefs prepare their meals.

When designing a commercial kitchen, consider each restaurant’s menu and service a more prominent note. For example, grills will be more pronounced in steakhouse kitchens or restaurants that cook with charcoal, while more flexible pieces are included for seasonal menus.

Ensure that the Kitchen Display System (KDS) is placed in an area accessible to staff and doesn’t disrupt their workflow. The window (warming area between the kitchen and serving station) is an ideal spot because it’s easy for them to get orders from there.

2. Dining area

When designing a restaurant, the dining area should take up about 60% of the total square footage. The kitchen and storage space combined should be no more than 40%.

Also, consider the number of people you can have in your building at once. What is this maximum capacity?

When designing your dining area, make sure to account for how customers and staff move through it. This includes keeping the space as open as possible with minimal bottlenecks or obstructions. It would help if you also planned impact on accommodating large parties by providing a versatile design that can be rearranged.

In a restaurant, the seating layout can have an impact on how customers feel about their experience. A small space with only one table and chairs will be intimate and sedate, while an ample space with tables at different heights may feel lively or animated.

An example of this is the layout at The Donut Experiment, which Mise Designs developed. They offer donuts made to order, and guests can customize their doughnuts with any toppings they like in a designated condiment area. Moreover, it has an assembly line out on display for customers.

3. Payment station and POS system

The point of sale (POS) system is critical. It enables servers to take orders, process payments, and more without dealing with a bulky computer or heavy registers. 

Handheld POS systems, meanwhile, enable FOH staff to serve guests from a mobile tablet.

Tableside ordering reduces the traffic that would otherwise be created by servers running back and forth from table to payment station. This also saves space because it takes up less room than a stationary point of sale system.

4. Entrance and waiting area

A restaurant’s entrance and waiting area can be a customer’s first impression of the establishment, which is why Antenora points out that setting up impacts more than wait times.

Restaurants are designed to entice people into buying a drink at the bar or waiting area before they’re seated. Whether restaurants take reservations and how much space they want for these areas is primarily up to them.

Korus, a fine-dining restaurant in New York City, opted for an entrance and waiting area separate from dining. This waiting area had its seating.

A restaurant’s kitchen should take up 40% of the total square footage, but if space is limited for seating areas in your entrance area, consider directing guests to wait at the bar and have a drink instead.

5. Bar

It is not uncommon for restaurants to have a bar, but the space around it can become an attraction when they do.

Mousavi says that the design of a bar is important because it can be used to set an atmosphere and provide direction for customers.

A perfect example of this is Maris Piper, a restaurant in Amsterdam. Their space features an open bar and kitchen which, helps their bartenders and chefs become the focal point for the dining experience.

6. Restrooms

Restaurants need restrooms, but they should be out of sight from the dining area.

Antenora suggested clustering kitchen and restroom plumbing save money with construction costs.

When designing the floor plan for Bourbon Coffee Shop, Cardamone strategically placed restrooms and kitchens next to one another to use plumbing.

When it comes to restaurant design, be sure that you follow the regulations. Additionally, know your local zoning laws regarding how many restrooms and gender designations a small-scale restaurant needs.

You can design a restroom that is both Instagrammable and memorable by bringing in an architect, interior designer, and you.


restaurant floor plan

Final Thoughts on Designing the Perfect Restaurant Floor Plan

Planning a restaurant floor plan is an important decision that will have lasting effects.

Your goal as a restaurant owner is to create a practical floor plan that will help your kitchen staff, service team, and customers. Click To Tweet

When planning a restaurant, one must carefully consider the balance of efficiency and aesthetics while also sticking to a budget. One should partner with professionals to create solid foundations for long-term success.