The Most Successful Restaurants Start With a Great Floor Plan

Floor Plan for Successful Restaurant


First, establish your service market. Who are your customers? What is your food focus? Critical to your restaurant’s floor plan is the type of food you plan to serve. Is your food venue a cuisine specialty like Italian, Mexican or Chinese? The kind of food prepared and the manner of servicing the customers determines the prep and cooking method, this determines the kitchen layout. For instance, do you need pizza ovens? Do you plan to have a buffet style of service or a more restricted, formal setting of ordering from waiters? What is the dining capacity? Capacity dictates the amount of seating space needed. The amount of required seating governs where and how that seating may be arranged. 


Check state and local bar and restaurant codes for your planned location. Under the umbrella of the FDA, each state’s Department of Public Health devises and adopts food safety standards. Counties and cities then use these guidelines to ensure public dining quality and safety. These codes and regulations dictate to a large extent what your restaurant floor plan must include to be code compliant. Without that compliance, you will not be issued a CO, Certificate of Occupancy. Code compliance is the first priority in restaurant design and the subsequent day-to-day operation. 

You can check your specific regulating body here. It is listed under State Retail and Food Service Codes and Regulations by State" Regulations by State


Since the kitchen is the hub of customer food preparation, it must be well-ventilated, roomy, and designed for maximum efficiency. The organization is the key for a maximally functional kitchen. Compartmentalizing workstations in a logical food preparation order best utilizes space and equipment. Food prep areas, cooking areas, and prepared food pickup make for an even, uninterrupted kitchen workflow. Cooktops and ovens must be within two or three steps of food storage for quick retrieval. Those preparing the food must have a well-organized layout that expends minimal effort and curtails multiple trips across the kitchen. Utensils, cooking oil, pots, and pans should be hung or stored within easy reach. Traffic into and out of the kitchen should be set up for one-way ingress and egress with separate doors. This sharply curtails the aggravation and expense of dropped or spilled food. Ideally, the waiters should enter the pickup area through one door, pick up the prepared order, and exit the opposite door. With a well-planned and laid-out kitchen, the nexus of an efficient service system in place, the next most crucial decision is the restaurant’s public face. Begin with the entrance.


With your restaurant cuisine and focus established, required codes and ordinances in place, and your kitchen set up, you are now ready to focus on the customer areas of your establishment. The first item on the physical design agenda is the most important one, the entrance. In the competitive restaurant business, you have one chance to make a favorable impression. The restaurant entrance is the key to creating that impression. It must be impressive and make a bold statement to its guests. Make the entrance spacious yet inviting. Consider separating the main entrance from the waiting area. Post large, clear signage to direct traffic flow to these separate areas. A crowded customer entrance gives the impression of congestion and disorder, and getting lost in the crowd does not appeal to customers who have come to enjoy a pleasant, uninterrupted dining experience. 


Provide enough seating to accommodate guests who must wait to get a table. Make sure bathrooms are in sight and available while they wait. Create seating clusters and provide adequate space between them. Mix the seating choices with stools, benches, rockers, and larger common seating furniture. Post interesting art and articles on the walls for reading and mount flat screens for viewing while they wait. Locate the bar or game area in close proximity to the waiting area to increase customer options about how to spend their waiting time. 


Customer capacity is another integral piece of the restaurant floor plan puzzle. Capacity tells you how many customers can be in the restaurant at any given time. This, of course, tells you how many seats must be available for those patrons. Local codes and guidelines require clearly marked emergency and fire exits. These must be included to accurately calculate available restaurant capacity after accommodating any required emergency spaces. Code enforcement takes a hard view of tables and other seating that blocks emergency response routes. Square footage is the figure used to calculate restaurant space availability. Utilizing the square footage of your restaurant, subtract the spaces like the kitchen, bathrooms, and waiting areas. Once you have this figure, divide it first by 12, and then by 15. Again, depending on what state, county, or city the restaurant is in, this figure may vary; so, check your local codes. 

Here is an example of the above calculation. The total building square footage including the kitchen and bathrooms is 4,000 square feet. The areas with no seating take up 1,000 square feet. Subtract 1,000 from 4,000 to get 3,000 square feet. Divide 3,000 by 12 to get 250. 250 is your maximum seating capacity for that facility. If your local requirement is 15 feet, divide 3,000 by 15 to get 200 total seating. 


Seating is the absolute most critical comfort factor for restaurant guests. After all, it is the central feature of physical comfort while enjoying the meal. Booth seating offers a genial, cozy atmosphere to the dining experience. It makes restaurantgoers feel like they are being treated as special guests. Booths come in different styles and sizes, and to create that special guest dining experience, use them generously. Ideally, they should make up the majority of dining room seating. Choose booth seating that is firm but soft enough to be comfortable for longer periods of time. At the bars, use stools with backs and armrests. Include chairs with straight, comfortable backs for safety and tables in the bar area. Seating that is too plush is just not comfortable. If it sinks too deeply when sat upon, some customers have to stretch to reach their food. On the other hand, seating should not feel like a park bench. 

Superior Seating is an excellent resource for various restaurant seating options.  Arrange the seats so customers can see and interact with other customers. As much as possible, avoid arranging seating that has patrons facing a wall or other barrier to a clear line of sight. Design your restaurant seating arrangement so that customers have views that show interior highlights. Arrange your seating to match the traffic flow. Separate entry and exit so that there is no traffic congestion at the main entry. Give customers not only a choice of seating location but a choice of the kind of seating. Use stools, benches, chairs, and booths to achieve seating variety.