How to maximise seating capacity without overcrowding the dining room? What colours and decor solutions are best to use to make your restaurant visually larger? And what is the secret to creating designs that are functional and aesthetic at the same time? These are just a few common design problems small restaurant owners face before a major refit. And if you have asked yourself these questions before, read our blog post today. We share out best design tips and ideas for small restaurants today. So let’s dive right in!
Small Restaurant Design Tip #1 – Focus on Floor Plan and Layout
Creating an efficient and functional layout for your restaurant is pivotal for success. A well-thought-out layout maximises seating capacity and increases patron’s comfort. Since these are two of the most common challenges small restaurants face, mapping out your restaurant’s floor plan correctly should be a top priority.
But what should you keep in mind when designing the layout of a small restaurant? First and foremost, you need to make sure that your restaurant’s layout maximises the available floor space. Depending on your restaurant’s size, you will have to decide how much space you allocate to each area. As a general rule, the dining space should take up approximately 60% of available space, while the 40% rest should be allocated to back-of-the-house operations.
Once you establish these partitions, you should focus on the restaurant’s seating design. Depending on local guidelines, establish the number of seats and tables you want to put in your dining room. During this process, you will want to maximise the number of seats, without overcrowding the dining area. Make sure that diners and wait staff have ample space to move around freely, and avoid making them feel claustrophobic.
So how can you achieve that? Fortunately, there are a few trick and tips that can help.
Try counter-style seating
The coronavirus pandemic has brought significant changes in restaurant design. Nevertheless, if local health and safety regulations permit it, installing counter-style bar seating facing a window or along the length of a restaurant wall might be a good idea. Higher seats will give diners the illusion of more space while giving them more air to breath. In turn, this will not only help you save valuable floor space in the dining room but also increase customer’s comfort.
*Note: In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, countertop dining might not be allowed in your area due to health concerns. Please check local regulations and guidelines before installing this type of seating in your restaurant.
Use benches and banquettes
Another great small restaurant design strategy to maximise seating is opting for banquette or bench seating. Installing a banquette or a bench along one of the restaurant’s walls and placing small and medium-sized tables and chairs on the other side is an easy way to maximise seating capacity. What’s more, using rectangular tables will allow you to join smaller tables together to accommodate different sized dining groups.
Last, but not least, focus on partitions. Even if your dining room is on the smaller side, you need to visually separate various areas of the restaurant. Make sure that the bar, kitchen and restrooms are separated from the dining area for an enhanced dining experience. Be that in the form of different flooring and ceiling treatments, wooden partitions or green walls, establishing partitions is a critical part of enhancing the dining experience. Visually separating the various areas will enhance your restaurant’s atmosphere while also helping diners navigate the space.
Small Restaurant Design Tip #2 – Make the Bar a Focal Point of the Restaurant
Larger restaurants are often divided into two sections: the bar area and the dining room proper. But if you are short on space, you might not have the same luxury. Even so, not all hope is lost. One of the best small restaurant design tips is to make the bar a central piece of the design.
Depending on the shape and size of your restaurant, you can position your bar counter strategically in your dining room. As such, in wider spaces, it might be a good idea to place the bar towards the back of the dining area. In narrow spaces, on the other hand, you can place the bar either on the left or right side of the dining room.
Creating an efficient lighting design, a menu or liquor display can draw attention to the bar and brings the dining area to life. It will bring excitement into the restaurant and help create the illusion of a larger space. With the right design, your restaurant’s bar can easily become the liveliest part of the entire venue.
Small Restaurant Design Tip #3 -Use Lighting to Your Advantage
Restaurant lighting is critically important when creating successful restaurant designs. A well-lit space will naturally appear bigger and airier than a darker room. So if you have a small restaurant, lighting is your best friend.
But what should you pay attention to when creating your restaurant’s lighting design?
First, make sure that the dining room is well-lit. Light reflecting from various surfaces creates the illusion of a larger and more open space. To do that, focus on natural light and choose light fixtures carefully when creating the design. Installing large, open windows or skylights in the restaurant can be a great way of brightening up the room.
Similarly, when choosing light fixtures, try to opt for softer, brighter lights to create the design. Soft-light exposed bulbs, translucent or metallic fixtures can also be a great option since they reflect light better. Above all, make sure to layer different types of lighting to create an effect.
Small Restaurant Design Tip #4 – Play with Colours, Prints and Textures
Choosing an appropriate colour scheme for your restaurant is pivotal. A carefully selected colour palette will help create a pleasant atmosphere in the restaurant, while also supporting your marketing and branding efforts. And when it comes to small restaurant design, colours can be one of the most powerful design tools in your hands.
In general, you should always use lighter and brighter colours when designing a small restaurant. The reason for that being that a lighter colour scheme reflects light better, which makes the space feel larger. Nevertheless, using only light or pale colours can make the restaurant design feel overly plain and sterile. So what can you do?
Depending on your restaurant’s size and layout, you can use various strategies to enhance the design. Make sure you add a pop of colour to the design, by adding colourful furniture, chairs or various wall arts and prints. Using various textures, patterns and prints help create a layered design without making your dining room feel cluttered.
Small Restaurant Design Tip #5 – Focus on Artwork & Decor
Focusing on your restaurant’s decor is of critical importance when working with a small space. When used correctly, restaurant decor can create the perfect atmosphere in the restaurant, while also giving is character and charm. But what are your options?
First, you might try adding a few local pieces of artwork to your wall. Wall murals and wall art can help emphasise your restaurant’s theme and cuisine, thus paving the way to a more enhanced dining experience. Similarly, you might try hanging a few mirrors in the dining room, which will help create the illusion of more space.
Second, do not underestimate the power of typography. Displaying your menu or short, inspirational quotes on your wall can add huge value to your design. It will not only add a pop of colour to the design but also perform a functional role without taking up too much space.
Last, but not least, you can also enhance your restaurant’s decor by focussing on your restaurant’s flooring and ceiling design. Using geometric patterns, shapes and various colours to visually separate the various areas of the dining room will help create the illusion of more space, while also assisting diners’ navigation of the space.
Small Restaurant Design Tip #6 – Find a use for everything
Finally, focus on functionality and design in all areas of your restaurant. When choosing decorative elements and furniture for your restaurant, try to opt for ones that are aesthetic and functional at the same time. This will not only help create more storage space and less clutter in the dining room but also helps keep your restaurant neat.
Opt for furniture and decorative elements that have multiple uses. For example, you might opt for customised booths that offer additional storage space, where you can put away foldable chairs or tables during the colder months. Or, you might use decorative shelves in the restaurant, which can also house menus and cutlery for use during service hours. Best yet, you can decorate one of your restaurant’s walls with a decorative chalkboard, which can also double up as a menu display and offers.
Feeling lost in the process of restaurant design?
In today’s blog post we shared with your our best tips on how to create successful small restaurant designs. While most tips can easily be incorporated in most restaurant’s designs, it is vital to make sure that you create designs with your unique needs and space restrictions in mind.
And if you are feeling lost in the process of small restaurant design, contact our team at Contrast Interiors for help. We offer complete restaurant design and refurbishment services for restaurants of all types and sizes. Using creative design solutions and bespoke restaurant furniture, we will bring out the most of your space. Contact us today for a free consultation to see what we can do for you.