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There are numerous aspects to consider when you are in the process of opening a restaurant or refitting your current venue. But one of the first and most crucial steps in this process is planning your space efficiently and creating a functional restaurant layout. Depending on the available floor space, the location and type of your restaurant, you need to create a restaurant floor plan that gives your staff and guests comfort, ensures their safety and maximises efficiency. Reaching these goals calls for careful planning and thought.

If you are currently refitting or remodelling your restaurant, you might wonder what the key to success is. And if that is the case, this article is for you. Today we discuss all aspects of restaurant floor planning and share our best tips on how to create an efficient floor plan for your restaurant. So let’s dive in!

What is a restaurant floor plan, and why is it so crucial?

Simply put, your restaurant’s floor plan is a physical representation of your restaurant’s available floor space. It is a blueprint that details the partitioning of your restaurant into various areas, specifying the purpose of each. It contains the location of all appliances, furniture, electrical outlets, and more.

Creating an efficient floor plan for your restaurant is a crucial step in the restaurant design and refit process. It forms the basis of creating an outstanding restaurant design and informs all decisions regarding material selection, furniture choice, finishes, and more.

Planning your restaurant’s space efficiently, and creating a functional layout is crucial for your business’ future success. A well-thought-out restaurant floor plan maximises your restaurant’s efficiency and helps you keep your service running smoothly. Taking into account all logistic and building regulations, it ensures the safety of customers and staff and facilitates ease of movement.

Above all, a well-designed restaurant floor plan helps optimise the workflow and maximise efficiency. By doing so, it plays a vital role in keeping your running costs down and minimises wastage of space, time and material. All in all, a carefully planned restaurant floor plan enhances the dining experience, maximises revenue and helps avoid overspending.

What aspects should you consider when creating a restaurant floor plan & layout?

Creating an efficient restaurant floor plan can be a challenging task that requires careful planning and thought. To maximise efficiency and create functional layouts, you will have to consider various criteria carefully.

When planning your restaurant’s space, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. What works for another restaurant nearby will not work for your business too. Thus, when planning your restaurant’s floor plan, you will have to consider various aspects, including:

  • the size, location and type of your restaurant;
  • logistics, efficiency and workflow;
  • the allocated budget for the refit;
  • the style and interior design of your restaurant;
  • safety and security guidelines and local building codes.

In what follows, we will discuss each of these criteria in turn. Taking each of them in turn, we will show what you need to pay attention to if you want to maximise your space and create an efficient and functional layout for your restaurant.

The size and type of your restaurant

Determining the appropriate size of your restaurant is one of the most crucial steps in the restaurant space planning process. Deciding how much space you need to run your business efficiently can be challenging. Although various aspects influence how big or small your restaurant should be, two of the most important ones are the location and type of your restaurant.

Your restaurant’s location

The location of your restaurant or bar significantly influences the number of guests coming through your doors. A restaurant located on the high street or near main attraction sites will draw in a larger number of customers.

Therefore, when planning your restaurant’s space, make sure to consider how many people are likely to come in at once and ensure that you will be able to deal with the flux. If possible, you might also consider investing in flexible seating furniture to allow you to slightly modify the seating layout of your restaurant during peak hours, too.

The restaurant concept

The food you serve in the restaurant plays a huge role in deciding how much space you will need, both in the dining room and in the kitchen. Fine-dining restaurants, for example, need more space both in the kitchen and the dining area than fast-food or casual restaurants.

For this reason, you must take into consideration square-foot-per-customer requirements when planning your space. As a general rule, you should allocate space to each seated guest depending on your restaurant’s style and service type as follows:

  • in fine-dining restaurants, you should allocate 18-20 square feet per customer in the dining room;
  • in full-service restaurants, aim for 11-14 square foot per customer; while
  • in fast-food restaurants and casual establishments, 11-14 square foot per customer is ideal.

Besides these requirements, you will also have to consider what service areas you will need. Depending on your restaurant’s type and service model, it might be worthwhile to invest in building a waiting area, a service counter, or installing a bar counter as well. Think carefully about your options, and incorporate them into your restaurant’s floor plan as well.

Efficiency and Workflow

Once you have decided what areas you need in your restaurant, you need to focus on optimising efficiency and workflow. To do that, you first need to consider the flow of guests and staff inside. Taking into consideration the layout of your restaurant, you need to create a map of how people will move inside the restaurant and adjust the plan accordingly.

Limiting the amount of movement that takes place between the various areas of your restaurant is crucial. It will not only enhance the efficiency with which you can serve guests but also maximise customers’ and staff’s comfort. So how can you do that?

The answer to this question depends on the specific properties of your restaurant. Nevertheless, there are a few principles to keep in mind. For example, make sure to locate the kitchen away from restrooms. Doing so will allow for the free movement of both waiters and guests and help avoid bottlenecks. Similarly, investing in a waiting area near the entrance can be a good idea to help better cope with the flux.

Budget

(Re)fitting or redesigning a restaurant can be a costly endeavour. The allocated budget can significantly influence how much you can alter your existing premise. As a result, estimating the expected costs and creating a realistic budget is vital.

Depending on the current state of your premises, you need to decide how much you are willing to spend. If you are working on a limited budget, you might not be able to carry out all building works and alter the space completely. In that case, you might consider leaving a few existing walls in place and planning your space around the existing outlets and plumbing fixtures.

Doing so will help reduce costs and avoid overspending. Nevertheless, it might limit what type of floor plan and layout is possible.

Aesthetics & Interior Design

Once you have determined the size of your restaurant, you can turn your attention to the interior design concept. Since the different design and decor styles influence how much space you need in the restaurant, this step is crucial. Depending on the design concept, you need to determine what type of furniture you want to use to furnish your restaurant. Choosing appropriate furniture to match your restaurant’s type and style is critical.

When it comes to furnishing your restaurant, the possibilities are almost endless. From upholstered chairs, booth and banquette seating to tables of various heights and sizes, you have great freedom of choice. Nevertheless, you must choose with care. Certain types of seating furniture take up more floor space and limit movement inside. Consider what style you are aiming at, and choose furniture to maximise not only the seating capacity but also your staff and guests’ comfort.

Local building codes and regulations

Last but not least, you need to adjust your floor plan in line with existing building codes and regulations. Ensuring that your restaurant is safe and easily accessible to people is crucial. Thus, make sure to create a restaurant floor plan so that everyone entering your venue benefits from the same level of accessibility.

Consulting a professional designer or shopfitter at this stage is crucial. Unless you have extensive experience in this domain, you might risk overspending otherwise. An experienced architect can help you meet even the strictest building and accessibility criteria and adjust your floor plan to meet local building codes.

Adjusting your restaurant floor plan in the wake of COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many restaurants to rethink and redesign their venues. A well-designed restaurant floor plan and layout now look strikingly different from what it used to. Depending on the space and layout of your current venue, you might need to make significant changes in your restaurant.

Current guidelines suggest that customers should be seated at least six feet apart from each other. As a result, many restaurants are limiting their seating capacity or changing their floor plans entirely.

So, if you are wondering how you can quickly adjust your layout and floor plan during this challenging time, here are a few suggestions:

  • take out tables and chairs to reduce seating capacity and increase the physical distance between guests;
  • if you are short on space or have fixed seating furniture, you might also consider installing plexiglass separators between tables or add extra partitions in the dining room;
  • remove bar seating and eliminate buffets;
  • make room for a temporary waiting area either inside or outside the restaurant to avoid overcrowding and limit queuing;
  • install professional signage inside to direct the flow of foot traffic and inform customers;
  • consider creating more space in front of high-traffic areas, such as the kitchen, restroom and service stations to allow for physical distancing;
  • remove any unnecessary decor elements from tables and install sanitising stations inside.

*Please note that the above advice contains general guidelines only and does not constitute legal advice. Always check local laws and regulations, and consult with professionals if in doubt. Always comply with all safety regulations and laws as stated by the local authorities in your area.

Should you ask for professional help?

In this article, we have considered all aspects pertaining to restaurant space planning and floor plan design. Nevertheless, unless you have extensive experience in the hospitality industry, it might be a good idea to ask for expert help when planning your restaurant’s space. Consulting with a professional architect or designer before you invest can help avoid overspending and ensure success.

If you need more help in creating your restaurant’s floor plan, you can turn to our team at Contrast Interiors for help. With extensive experience in the restaurant shop fitting and interior design sector, our designers and architects can help create an efficient floor plan and layout for your restaurant.

With a comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of building codes and health and safety regulations in the UK, we can design your restaurant to reflect all industry standards and best practices. We can help you find the best solutions for your restaurant in line with your venue, budget and needs. Our architects and designers can also take care of obtaining all building and planning permissions. Contact our team to find out more.