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July 25th, 2013

by Total Food Service

How to Create a Restaurant Floor Plan


Whether you are opening a new restaurant or remodeling an existing one, determining your restaurant seating plan can be a difficult task.


Some considerations to take into account are the size of the establishment, what kind of restaurant you have, how you want the interior to look aesthetically and of course, safety. Here are some tips and guidelines that will help you maximize your restaurant space and make your business more profitable.

In primary space planning, the general rule of thumb for determining for determining the area allotted is that the dining area should comprise of most of total area and the kitchen, storage and preparation area should take up the remaining the space. These dimensions will have to be adjusted if you plan on having a waiting area or a bar, but those should be the approximate percentages for the total area.

  • Dining Room:  60% of Total Area
  • Kitchen, Cooking, Storage, Preparation, etc:  40% of Total Are

Designing your seating plan will depend on what type of restaurant you plan to open. It's important to remember that banquet seating may use as little as 10 square feet per person, while fine dining may require 20 square feet per person. It is common for most restaurants or coffee shops with that have a general menu to average about 15 square feet per person. This is taking into account space needed for traffic aisles, wait stations, cashier, etc.

Example: A space of 5000 square feet

  • 200 seats
  • 60% Dining Area  =  3000 square feet
  • 40% Kitchen  =  2000 square feet                     

If you are buying an existing restaurant or commercial space and you plan on renovating or remodeling the building, the same rule of thumb of 60% of the area for the dining area and 40% for kitchen, storage and preparation still applies. 

Assuming the building has 2800 square feet available. The dining area should be approximately 1680 square feet, which would accommodate 112 seats. The kitchen and storage area should be 1120 square feet. The details of the floor plan and percentage of square feet to be allocated to the kitchen and dining area depends on the owner's ideas and how they can be incorporated into the floor plan.

The area of square footage allotted for each patron depends on what type of dining establishment you intend to have, depending on whether or not you have a fine dining establishment, full service restaurant, counter service, fast food restaurant, a hotel/club or a banquet hall. The general seating guidelines that should be observed are:

  • Fine Dining: 18 – 20 Square Feet
  • Full Service  Restaurant Dining: 12 – 15 Square Feet
  • Counter Service: 18 – 20 Square Feet
  • Fast Food Minimum: 11 – 14 Square Feet
  • Table Service, Hotel/Club:  15 – 18 Square Feet
  • Banquet, Minimum: 10 – 11 Square Feet

For safety reasons and to allow for the free flow of traffic for diners and servers, the traffic path between occupied chairs should be at least 18 inches wide and you should leave at least 4 – 5 feet per table, including chair space. This allows for free movement of servers between stations and the kitchen and provides enough comfortable room for the guests to move around. It is very important for safety reasons that there is enough space for the guest and staff to move around and that the aisles are clear, especially in case there is a fire.

Determining the area for the wait stations should also be taken into account when designing your floor plans. One small station should take up 6 – 10 square feet, sufficient for 20 diners. One large central station should be anywhere from 25 – 40 square feet. This would be sufficient for 60 diners.

If your restaurant will have a bar, in determining the length you should allow for 1 foot 8 inches to 1 foot 10 inches per person for standing room only. If you are going to have seating at the bar, there should be a distance of 2 feet between bar stools.

Here are some general furniture guidelines to assist you in determining the ideal height of the tables and seating you will need to buy.

Furniture Guidelines:

  • Table Height:  29" – 30"
  • Bar Height  30" – 36" – 42"
  • Seat Height  17" – 18"
  • Bar Stool Height 29" – 30"

Once you have your floor plan designed, you can focus on the décor and what type of restaurant furniture you want to furnish you restaurant with. This depends largely on what type of dining establishment you have what kind of clientele you are looking to attract. Depending on the size of your restaurant there are many options to consider, including the use of restaurant booths, tables and chairs or a combination of both. Taking the time to design a floor plan that takes into consideration the available space, type of restaurant and seating arrangements is crucial and will help make your restaurant a success. In our next article we will discuss various options for table and chair layouts and how they can create the right ambiance for your restaurant and help maximize your profits.

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