If your restaurant sticks in a customers mind for the wrong reason, you may condemn your business to just another statistic. But, with a little thought and up-front planning, there’s no reason why you can’t devise the very best floor plan to fit your needs, capitalising on all of the available space – even when there is none. With our help, you’ll be able to create a stunning space which diners will want to return to time and time again.

Where to start?

Your layout will largely depend on the kind of business you run. Are you primarily a coffee shop? If so, your barista bar will most likely be the focal point in your café floor plan. You should make this the first thing your customers see when they walk in.

If you offer a range of hot food options, which are made to order, you should give some thought to your restaurant’s kitchen floor plan. Will this form part of your main seating space? If so, you’ll need to be savvy about the size of the kitchen equipment you use to avoid reducing the number of covers you can hold. Can any of the food prep be managed elsewhere?

Whatever are your main considerations, it makes sense to plan what you want to include in your space and divide your floor plan accordingly. To help with this, we have a few pointers which may be worth considering.

Waiting area/bar

Whether you choose to have separate waiting and bar areas or a space which combines the two, it’s important to have some kind of space which divides the entrance and the main dining area. Too many casual dining restaurants or cafes neglect to do this, believing instead that diners will purposefully stride up to an empty table and peruse the menu here.

What to bear in mind?

The majority of diners would prefer to look at what’s on offer before they make the decision to commit to this dining experience. This is particularly true of tourists who, let’s face it, comprise the majority of covers during high season in most of the UK’s major towns and cities. Those from different countries might not be familiar with our dining etiquette – do they need to book a table or wait to be seated? Unless this is clear, many of them may choose to dine elsewhere.
A demarcated waiting area – be it a bar, entrance porch, cloakroom or a row of seats – helps to put your diners at ease, giving them a moment or two to acclimatise to their new surroundings before going any further.

Dining area

The most important part of your restaurant. Get the layout of this area right and you’ll be able to maximise covers and create a spacious environment for your diners to feel perfectly at ease in.
But, when space comes at a premium, it’s often a luxury to provide both. However, with our help, you’ll be amazed at how easily this can be accomplished.

What to bear in mind?

Before putting pen to paper, you should consider the type of cuisine you will offer – do you specialise in Tapas dishes which will require your waiting staff to make multiple table visits during any given service? Are any of your dishes prepared table-side – for instance, are your waiting staff tasked with pouring sauces or carving meat at your diners table? If so, you’ll need to provide extra clearance for this.
You should also seek advice from the fire service to find out what your maximum seating capacity can be. Once you know this, you can get creative with your layout. Try a variety of different options and see what looks – and, more importantly, feels – best. Sit in every seat in your dining area and keep a checklist of what you can see, hear and smell from this position. If a seat is pointed directly towards the door to the men’s urinals for instance, it’ll probably be a good idea to reposition the table.

Kitchen

The kitchen is at the heart of any restaurant – after all, this is where the magic happens. It’s become an increasingly popular trend to position your restaurant’s kitchen within the main dining area. Even the most commercial eateries showcase their kitchen and its staff in full view of the diners these days. The upshot of this, of course, is that it helps to provide transparency about their hygiene practices employed around food. You can monitor your meal from preparation through to service. It can also showcase the spectacle that comes from creating certain dishes – a flambé here, a stir-fry toss there… each as exciting to watch as it will be to eat.

What to bear in mind?

Wherever you decide to position your kitchen, it’s important to make this area safe for your kitchen staff. Slips and trips remain the single most common cause of major injury in UK workplaces and the majority of reported cases come from kitchen assistants, chefs and waiting staff.
Before you plan your kitchen, take a look at the latest advice from the HSE on how to prevent slips and trips.
Next, look into the types of commercial kitchen equipment you’ll need to invest in. Take a note of the dimensions for each as this will help you to determine the size of your restaurant’s kitchen. If your space is restricted, bear in mind that you may have to compromise on how many dishes you can include in your menu. Remember, it’s better to make a few things well than to offer more dishes than your kitchen can actually make.

Outdoor area

Whether it’s a few tables and chairs by your entrance or a fully landscaped garden, you should devote as much pre-planning to your outdoor area as you do your main dining area.

What to bear in mind?

With your layout, you should anticipate all kinds of weather conditions and plan accordingly. If space allows, factor in clearance for patio umbrellas which provide shade on hot days and cover from unforeseen downpours.
Also, allow more space between tables than you normally would in your indoor dining area. If smoking is permitted in your restaurant, it has to be offered outside which some al fresco diners may take issue with.