When it comes to designing your restaurant, choosing furniture is about more than just aesthetics and comfort. Picking the right restaurant furniture can help you maximize the capacity of your dining room to sell more food and drinks during peak business hours.
Designing a seating layout for maximum capacity will help you choose restaurant chairs and other types of seating for your food service business.
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How To Design a Restaurant Seating Layout
Maximum capacity seating doesn’t mean that you fill every square inch of your restaurant with chairs – a good rule of thumb is that about 60-70% of your total space should be for seating. The other 30-40% of your restaurant space should be saved for kitchen/food prep space, wait stations, restrooms, and other essential spaces. To calculate how much seating space you can have in your restaurant, first figure out the total square footage and calculate what 60-70% of that is.
Once you have that number, you can determine approximately how many seats you can fit into the space.
The amount of space recommended for an average restaurant seat is 12-15 square feet. In a fine dining establishment, you’ll want to allow a little more room per seat – 18-20 square feet is recommended.
So, let’s say you have 250 square feet of space available for seating in a cafe or small diner-style restaurant. In this case, you could fit about 16-20 seats in your restaurant.
Of course, these are just recommendations, and you may have to play with the numbers a bit to maximize the capacity of your unique space. But, in general, allowing this much room per seat ensures everyone can move around comfortably, including your service staff.
If you try to cram too many seats into your dining area, it can hurt the dining experience for customers and make waiting tables uncomfortable for your servers.
Choosing Different Types of Restaurant Seating
Once you’ve figured out approximately how many seats you want to fit into your restaurant, it’s time to decide what type of seating to use. Most restaurants benefit from offering a variety of different seating types. For small restaurants especially, restaurant booths can save space, not to mention provide groups of guests with a nice cozy dining experience.
But, if you opt for booths, you should also make sure to save some of your seating space for two- and four-top tables that use regular restaurant chairs to accommodate smaller groups.
If your restaurant has a bar, adding some bar stools or tall bar-style chairs is a great way to maximize space, as well.
Playing around with your seating layout can help you figure out what types of seating would work best. Here are some things to think about when considering different seating layouts:
- Flow of people
- Shape of tables and chairs
- Size of tables
- Fixed or rearrangeable seating
1. Flow of people
The flow of people (both guests and employees) is one of the first things you need to consider when laying out your restaurant chairs and other seating. Imagine your restaurant full and visualize how the seating will affect foot traffic.
Can people come in and out of the restaurant easily? Will your servers be able to move around quickly and comfortably? Are the bathrooms easily accessible?
These are all important questions to ask yourself.
2. Shape of tables and chairs
The shapes of dining tables and seating furniture can play a big role in their functionality. For example, round tables with armless restaurant chairs are the easiest to navigate around.
And, U-shaped restaurant booths with round tables maximize space even more than booths with bench-style seating on either side of a rectangular table.
3. Size of tables
The size of your dining tables also factors into the seating you choose. You’ll want to make sure your tables are plenty big enough for the dining ware you use, but smaller tables can also let you squeeze an extra chair or two in and make movement easier.
4. Fixed or rearrangeable seating
Another thing to consider when choosing restaurant furniture is whether you want it to be fixed to the ground and/or walls or if you want it to be moveable. Rearrangeable furniture allows more flexibility to accommodate different sizes of dining parties, but it can also limit the different styles of restaurant seating you can use.
Other factors to consider when choosing restaurant furniture:
- Indoor/outdoor furniture
From budget-friendly restaurant chairs to one-of-a-kind, custom-built seating booths, there is a wide range of restaurant furniture you can choose from for any size of establishment. For any type of restaurant, but especially smaller establishments, it’s important to figure out how to use your seating to maximize the capacity of your restaurant and increase service volume.
By following the guidelines mentioned above for determining the maximum number of seats you can fit in your dining area, you can get a good idea of what types of seating will work best. Soon enough, you’ll be moving on to the fun part of actually installing the seating and finishing up the interior design of your restaurant to wow your customers!