When you’re building a restaurant from the ground up, one factor you must consider is the floor plan. In fact, its creation may be one of the most important things you do; a restaurant’s layout has a huge impact on customer and employee experiences. If you make a mistake early on, it can be expensive or even impossible to fix.
So how can you ensure that you’re laying the right foundations for success? The first step is to research — the more you know about restaurant space planning, the more likely you’ll be able to avoid pitfalls. To that end, here’s everything you should know about creating a restaurant floor plan.
When is the Best Time to Create a Restaurant Floor Plan?
Floor plan creation goes hand-in-hand with leasing restaurant space, as you must understand your business’s needs before signing a rental agreement. At the same time, you can’t properly plan for the layout before you have a specific space and know its limitations.
To that end, it’s a good idea to have a rough outline of a floor plan but remain flexible. Once you have a space that meets all your needs, you can start getting into the details.
Why is it Important to Create a Restaurant Floor Plan?
A logical floor plan can increase efficiency and make customers feel comfortable; an illogical one creates unnecessary obstacles that can leave employees frustrated and customers unsatisfied. It’s essential that you think about how staff will have to move through the space, what sightlines will be available, and if there are any areas that are particularly difficult to reach.
What Should a Good Restaurant Floor Plan Include?
While a unique floor plan offers novelty and may get customers in the door, there are a few staples every restaurant needs:
- Waiting area
- Payment station
- Dining area
If you want to appeal to the weekend crowd, you’ll also need an adequate bar. Again, each of these can be unique to draw in customers, but they shouldn’t be so convoluted that they can’t function.
Customers are going to need to relieve themselves, and they expect well-kept restrooms that are easy to find. Simultaneously, this space should be far enough away from seated customers to avoid unpleasant smells or messes. Two excellent options are to have the restrooms near the waiting area or the kitchens. If you choose the latter, the two spaces can share plumbing.
If you decide to have a bar, it’s better to make it a feature rather than an afterthought. To customers, the bar is a place to congregate and engage with each other; to encourage this, make the décor appealing and design the surrounding dining area with the bar in mind.
Waiting customers can be impatient, but a well-designed waiting area can make the experience less taxing. Many restaurants offer seating, while others strategically place the bar to encourage waiting customers to have a drink before being seated. Which you choose depends on the crowd you want to attract and the impression you want to make.
With the proliferation of mobile POS systems, there are now many options for payment stations. Your business model will influence which you choose.
For example, many places have adopted the table-side POS system. This allows customers to order extra dishes throughout their meal and pay without flagging down a server. This may be a good option for more casual dining establishments and means the payment station needn’t be a prominent point.
Other restaurants still rely on stations where the waitstaff is responsible for running cards and generating receipts. These areas should be out-of-the-way to ensure they don’t interfere with foot traffic. If your business model requires customers to bring a receipt to the payment station and pay there, the payment system should be near the exit and easily identifiable.
When designing your dining area, you want to keep flexibility in mind. You’ll need to have a plan for large parties: Are you going to rearrange tables to accommodate them? Do you have banquet-style areas where they can be seated? Are there larger booths reserved for parties of a certain number?
The dining area layout should also be easy to navigate to make service easier on your waitstaff. Sections should make sense and allow for equal distribution of labor among employees.
Unsurprisingly, the kitchen is the single most important area in a restaurant floor plan. According to experts, it should occupy 40% of the space; anything less and your establishment will be hobbled.
There are many different kitchen arrangements, and each offers different benefits. Which is right for your restaurant depends on the type of food service you offer.
What Do You Need to Consider When Making Your Restaurant Floor Plan?
Now that we’ve discussed the specific areas of a successful restaurant, let’s take a look at more abstract factors. A lot goes into creating the right atmosphere, ensuring safety, and keeping compliant with regulations. As you work out the details of your floor plan, here are some additional things to keep in mind.
Square Foot Per Customer
The amount of space customers can use has a huge impact on their experience. Too little and they can feel cramped; too much and you risk losing money. Fortunately, there’s an industry standard of square footage, influenced by the type of restaurant:
- 11 – 14 square feet for fast food dining
- 12 – 15 square feet for full-service dining
- 18 – 20 square feet for counter service or fine dining
Your restaurant’s décor shouldn’t be an afterthought; after all, it’s the first thing people will see when they step inside. This is one factor where you can lean more into creativity since memorable décor can make a lasting impression on patrons.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is cohesiveness. Keeping the décor to a specific theme ensures the atmosphere is intriguing rather than confusing.
How accessible is your restaurant to people with disabilities? Can someone with mobility issues easily find their way to the bathroom? Is there room for a wheelchair to maneuver through the dining area?
These questions aren’t just about courtesy; according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses are responsible for ensuring their premises are compliant. If you’re considering older buildings as you look for space, keep in mind that businesses are also responsible for retrofitting non-compliant locations whenever possible.
Finally, remember that once you’ve created a floor plan, it isn’t set in stone. As the environment and expectations change, your restaurant can change with it. For example, you can make additions to the dining area to accommodate more customers or switch from a stationary POS system to mobile, enabling waitstaff to take payments at the table.
Whatever your future holds, you can be sure that having a dependable space is paramount. That’s why Ellicott Development offers a variety of spaces perfect for foodservice. For more information on our property management services or to see available properties, give us a call at 716-854-0060 or reach out to us online.
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Yurii Andreichyn