Configuring a dining & bar area for a restaurant is not as easy as it
sounds. There are a lot of different factors that go into planning, as
just dropping a few chairs and tables anywhere will not suffice. There
are a number of things one should examine closely before finalizing floor plans
and making final purchases.
Variables come in all shapes and sizes, and
dining rooms require much forethought. Here are a few things that should
be taken into consideration when shopping for bar / restaurant furniture, and
when putting together a floor plan for your dining area.
Décor is important when choosing the style and
design of furniture like booths, tables, and chairs, but it can also factor
into your intended floor plan. For example, a chain restaurant or sports
bar that has a hodgepodge of found items on the walls may need wider wall
tables and booths than something a bit more minimalist.
Sure, you would
like to get the smaller table because it’s cheaper, but how will your customers
feel when that tuba hanging from the wall keeps them from having a
conversation? Conversely, the furniture you choose must be able to fit
the specifications needed in a number of categories, not just the décor.
It’s great if you find elegant furniture that matches perfectly, but if they are too
large for your space, they will limit the number of people being sat. And we all know the more seats you turnover the more money you can make.
Floor Plan Layout
Let’s face it, no two restaurants have identical dining and bar areas.
Layout becomes essential when configuring your dining area.
First off, the placement of the hostess stand is incredibly important,
as it is the first thing patrons are greeted with upon entering.
There needs to be a proper hostess stand, as well as an adequately sized
waiting area for busy periods.
Different restaurants will have
different rush sizes; the expected turnover times for tables and number of
waiting guests must be taken into consideration. For example, a
restaurant right next to a theatre will most likely have a rush before
plays, and may have large numbers of guests that are in a hurry.
Secondly, the bar area has to be taken into consideration. An
adequately sized bar can not only seat diners and bar patrons, but it can
also serve as a waiting area for customers waiting for tables.
Keep in mind servers will be traveling back and forth to
the bar area for drinks. There must be a pathway to a section of the
bar exclusively for servers to get drinks so your employees do not have to
shout over customers in a rush.
Third, and possibly most important, is access to your kitchen, expedite
station, and registers. Servers and bussers are constantly in motion
during a busy shift, not only carrying food and plates, but drinks, add-ons
(extra sauces, napkins, etc.), and the check as well.
A dining room
configuration must flow; easy passage for servers and customers is
essential when you have a full house. It can reduce wait times,
increase table turnover rates, and even reduce overhead costs by limiting
collisions, dropped food, and damaged plates.
For final consideration, a patio or an outdoor dining area should also be taken into consideration
if you have access to a suitable outdoor space. A patio can nearly double seating, and
encourage more foot traffic on sunny days, however, it is only a temporary
extension of your dining area. Sure, it adds extra seating on the
nice days, but when it is raining or cold, what happens when the customers
keep coming in? Additionally, those chairs and tables will be taking
up a significant amount of extra storage space when they aren’t being used,
so be sure to have a place in mind for them during the winter months.
Expect Customer Traffic & Plan for It!
Realistic customer expectations must be determined before configuring a
dining room. This can be hard to do for new restaurants, but it
nonetheless plays a critical role in minimizing wait times and increasing table
The number of patrons must be maximized, while simultaneously not
limiting party sizes to manageable levels.
For instance, a family style
Italian restaurant’s seating should not consist of a bunch of small two top
tables, nor should a romantic dinner location be all large tables. It
is important to limit the amount of table moving that has to happen to for
a large party, while still keeping realistic expectations as to how many of
those large parties will be walking in the door.
That being said,
since few restaurants would want to turn away large parties of customers,
have a plan of attack ready for when that family of 10 walks in the
The frequency of advanced reservations is also a key factor in
determining proper seating configurations. Some restaurants are
reservations only, and should be, as they are so busy that it would be
impossible to accommodate walk-ins. For most restaurants though, it
is often the best idea to set aside some tables for reservations before
service, and fill them with walk-ins if reservations fall through.
Have you considered how businesses next to your establishment can affect your rushes? It is
important to take into consideration patrons that will be brought in from
If we look at the example posed earlier, if a
restaurant is located next to a theatre, there will most likely be large
rushes before and after shows. The larger the theatre or adjacent
events, the larger the rushes will be. The lone bar next to a sports
arena will have significantly larger rushes than one next to a mid-sized
music venue or theatre.
Go Forth & Optimize Your Space
It can be incredibly painstaking to choose a final dining room and bar
configuration and we hope the our tips have helped.