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How to Design best Restaurant Layout

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Restaurant layout is the most important thing you need to analize before investing any money in to your future space in mind.

You have a very exciting journey ahead of you. But it’s also going to be a lot of hard work, effort and probably stress also. Building and beginning your own restaurant business can be quite a daunting task, but if you remember to take tasks one by one, it can be really manageable and even enjoyable! One of the first things you will do for your new business is design the restaurant layout. Here are some tips and tricks for how to design it.

How many square feet does a restaurant layout need?

The amount of square footage you need for your restaurant space really depends on what type of dining concept you’re going for. The dining space alone will need to be between 12-20 square feet, and that doesn’t include the kitchen, restrooms, and any other amenities you may want to include.

Dining concept is very important when designing restaurant layout

For a Fine Dining concept, the dining area should be 18-20 square feet. Full Service Casual Dining spaces need a little less, 15-18 square feet.

Countertop Diner and Bistro dining areas are smaller, needing only about 12-15 square feet for the dining area.

Bistro restaurant design layout

The average restaurant will be between 1,000 and 6,000 square feet, and again this depends on the dining concept. It also includes the entrance and waiting areas, any outdoor dining areas or patios, the kitchen, a bar area, and restrooms.

Your restaurant may not include all these amenities for your guests. Some buildings may not accommodate for outdoor patio areas, and a sandwich shop doesn’t necessarily need a bar.

Outdoor patio restaurant layout

If the space you’re looking at is small but has ample outdoor are surrounding, take advantage of that outdoor space. Many restaurant goers enjoy dining al fresco, and it can be part of the charm of your restaurant, keeping customers coming back. If the weather in your area isn’t necessarily the best for outdoor dining, maybe pursue options for makeshift covers, like roll down tarp coverings or gazebo patios.

When you’re looking for a space to start your restaurant business, start with existing restaurant spaces.

If the previous occupying restaurant was closed down for reasons other than location, then you may have hit the jackpot for a new space.

Building your restaurant in an existing restaurant space will cut your building costs down to a fraction. It will already have water and plumbing lines put in place, saving you the cost of having those fitted and installed.

It will also come with an existing floor plan and suggested layout for you to follow. Having your kitchen and dining areas, and maybe even restrooms, will save you valuable time in the design process. With clever design facelift your future restaurant can look like brand new.

If no place like this exists it’s good idea to hire local real estate agent that has experience with the restaurant industry. They’ll know where to begin looking for prime restaurant real estate and will help you with price and loan negotiating.

How big should the kitchen be in a restaurant?

Most restaurant experts agree that the size of the kitchen in a restaurant should be around 30-40% of the total square footage of the restaurant. So, if your entire restaurant area is 5,000 square feet, then your kitchen should be 1,500-2,000 square feet. A good rule of thumb for fine dining restaurants is five square foot of kitchen per seat. So, a 40-seat restaurant should have a 200 square foot kitchen space.

When you begin designing the layout of your restaurant, you should always start with the kitchen so you can be sure not to skimp on the space as well as convenience and efficiency of location with respect to the dining area.

The kitchen is the heart of your restaurant business. If your the kitchen doesn’t work, then neither will the restaurant. Food production in the kitchen needs to be streamlined for maximum efficiency to ensure that guests are getting fresh food in a timely manner. No one likes to wait long for food to come out, and it’s even worse if the dish comes out cold. Hungry customers are some of the most irritable people on the planet, so make sure that you devote plenty of time and attention to the design of your kitchen.

Floor plan and layout of your kitchen

The floorplan of your kitchen needs to be designed with the same care and attention to detail as the whole of your restaurant. The placement of the kitchen as well as the layout for workflow is vital to the overall efficiency of the kitchen, and by extension, the restaurant as a whole. There are three basic types of kitchen layout that most restaurant owners implement into the design of their restaurant: Assembly Line, Island, and Zone.

Assembly Line Commercial Kitchen Layout

This type of kitchen layout features three main areas of food production. Raw food runs in parallel lines and passes through each station from prep, cooking, to plating and then out the server pickup area and onto the customer’s tabletop. The Assembly Line layout keeps staff in their designated stations, meaning there isn’t much movement between stations and roles; everyone has a delegated role.

This layout is the best design for a high-volume operation, like a large, busy restaurant. But it works just as well for smaller restaurants, especially if the menu is different variations of the same product like burgers, pizza, or sandwiches.

Island Commercial Kitchen Layout

If you want your staff to move between stations and also increase the level of supervision, then the Island style layout might be a great option for you. In this floorplan, all the cooking equipment is in the center, and food production flows in a circular procession around the middle. This setup allows chefs to oversee the entire food prep operation.

Island type kitchen layout

Again, this layout is really great for staff to be able to move between various stations and roles in the kitchen. It also keeps food flowing out one door to the dining service and area and sends dirty dishes back in through the opposite end to keep the circle flowing.

Zone Commercial Kitchen Layout

The Zone layout also allows for greater movement and supervision between stations compared to the Assembly Line floor plan. Each aspect of food production has its own work zone, just like the name suggests.

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In this set up, the serving staff have more access to the food prep opera 7htion. This can be a great option if your restaurant’s menu features a significant portion of uncooked dishes that only use the food prep area. Zone layout is great because it can be easily adapted to fit different spaces, making it an especially viable option for smaller, limited kitchen spaces.

Whatever type of kitchen floor plan layout you choose, it is critical that you test out the workflow of the space before fixing any equipment to the floor. Once all your equipment is locked down, it’s incredibly hard to change. Wait until the workflow and pace of your kitchen is as streamlined and efficient as possible. Then you can begin to fix the heavy equipment to the floor.

How much space should be between the tables and chairs in a restaurant?

Just like everything else I’ve said so far, your chair and table spacing depends on the dining concept of your restaurant. As a general rule, your dining area needs to make up the remaining 60% of your restaurant’s floor space. This can be changed to accommodate other amenities like waiting areas or a bar. This is also an excellent time to again bring up the benefits of outdoor seating areas, allowing you to maximize your serving capacity and thus your profit margins.

But before you even order your chairs and tables, you need to check the occupancy guidelines at the with your local building permit office. You don’t want to get shut down before you even get started for having too many people. Plus, it affects the safety of everyone inside the restaurant, guests and staff alike.

For the benefit of your guests and to optimize potential guests, it would also be a smart move to check the ADA guidelines for accessibility. Not only does it look great for your restaurant to be considerate of guests with disabilities, but it boosts your profits by opening up your restaurant services to anyone and everyone. Besides, it’s 2019, everyone should be able to enjoy the delicious menu and inviting atmosphere of the restaurant that you create.

Once you’ve checked all your guidelines, you’re ready to start designing the layout of your dining area. When you’re setting up your chairs, you’ll want to leave 18 to 20 inches between each occupied seat to maximize the seating area. For tables placed parallel, keep 42 to 60 inches in between to allow guests and wait staff to move in between without causing traffic jams. For tables set up on a diagonal, leave 24 to 30 inches between the corners of the tables.

A good trick to maximize seating space is to mix seat types. This is why so many restaurants take advantage of the booth and table combination. Booths maximize space along the walls and frame the flow of service for guests being seated and servers bringing out dishes.


Tables offer the ability to be moved around to accommodate large parties or simply to change the style or flow of the restaurant. Plus, it’s good to give guests the option. Counter height tables are another great way to mix up guests’ choices and they provide visual variety to the style of your restaurant.

Outdoor seating area layout

This seems like a good time to bring up outdoor seating areas again. Like I said, outdoor dining is a great option to have to offer guests, and it increases the number of patrons you’re able to serve (and make money off of). If you do have the fortune of providing an outdoor dining area, be sure to leave plenty of space around the outer perimeter for guests to get their tables and for servers to run food. No one wants to be pushing past bushes and plants to get to their tables. Also keep in mind space for umbrellas to provide shade for your guests. Make sure that the umbrellas are high enough to keep people from hitting their heads.

How much space should I leave for restrooms?

Restrooms are a great thing to offer guests of your restaurant, but you may not necessarily need them. Check your local building codes and restaurant requirements to find out if you need restroom facilities, it will save you time and money if your dining concept is small enough to not need them.

Restaurant restroom layout

But if you need to or choose to include restrooms, then it’s important to make them big enough and put them in the right area. When you are designing the layout for your restaurant, kitchen comes first and restrooms should come second next to them. This is because your kitchen will already need to be fitted for water and plumbing lines. Kill two birds with one stone by having your restrooms located close enough to use the same water and plumbing lines as your kitchen.

You also need to be conscious of where your restrooms are located in respect to the dining area. No guest really wants to be seated somewhere they can see or smell a toilet while they’re eating. Make sure your restrooms are somewhere easy for guests to get to, but hidden away and separate from the dining area.

As far as space for the restrooms, that’s entirely up to you. Bear in mind that guests will remember poor experiences in these areas, so make sure that there is enough space for guests to feel comfortable. Also pay attention to ease of cleaning; hygienic restrooms are an absolute must. You may also want to consider having separate restroom facilities for your employees if you have the space.

Pay attention to detail, but have fun with the design!

The design and layout of your restaurant is going to set the whole atmosphere for your business. It needs carefully planned, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unenjoyable to create. Have fun with it! This is the building of your brand; you want to be sure it’s inviting and welcoming so that guests enjoy their dining experience in your restaurant. Remember that every element has a purpose; nothing should be an afterthought.

Are you thinking hiring an interior designer for this job. Here are some tips how to prepare and choose right interior designer for you.

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