Ambience and comfort, along with good food and good customer service, are the foundation on which a successful restaurant is built. These essential qualities help your customers enjoy their meals and feel good about their visit to your establishment. While good food and good customer service are a function of your employees, ambience and comfort are a function of your restaurant design.
So how do you improve your restaurant design to provide the best possible experience for your customers? We’re here to help you answer that question. We’ve created this guide of restaurant design tips to help you get the most out of your space. Whether you’re examining your existing establishment for ways to improve, or creating your new restaurant from scratch, these nine essential restaurant design tips will help you address the factors that influence your customers the most.
The Best Restaurant Design Tips
1. Design With Your Brand Personality In Mind
Your brand personality is the way your restaurant is perceived by your target audience. Moreover, your brand personality informs many of the other design decisions you’ll be faced with as a restaurateur. For example, if your brand personality is formal, that influences the types of uniforms your employees wear, the silverware and place settings you choose, and the decor that is appropriate for your dining areas.
Because of the effect it has on the design of your restaurant, it’s important to define your brand personality before you even start thinking about how to design your space. Even if you have some notion in your head about your brand personality, we recommend that you write it all down. That way you can see it in in full and you can start to refine it to better suit your goals and your customer’s preferences.
2. Balance Ambience & Seating Capacity
For sheer seating capacity, very few layouts beat the cafeteria design with row upon row of long tables and benches. Formal dining rooms, on the other hand, need to focus more on ambience—character and atmosphere—than on how many people they can seat. Many restaurants these days have to occupy a middle ground where they’re concerned with both serving a goodly number of people and providing pleasing ambience.
Calculate how many customers you need to serve at one sitting to break even.
- Examine the spacing between your tables, the floor decorations, the positions of your wait stations, and other factors.
- Rearrange things to fit in more people while still remaining comfortable.
- If possible, try to double your break-even customer count so you’re turning a strong profit.
3. Minimize Bad Tables
Bad tables are those that sit in problem areas within your restaurant. Common restaurant problem areas include near the kitchen, near the restrooms, and near the front entrance. These are places customers don’t want to sit. A great way to identify these “bad tables” is to sit in every single chair at every single table in your restaurant. While you’re sitting in each chair, be aware of the dining area around you. Are you getting a draft from the front door? Can you see into the kitchen or into a bus station? Are you too close to the next table?
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions and identified any potential problems, think of ways you can make these tables better. You might disguise problem areas by installing dividers. You might set tall plants between tables to add some separation. Even small solutions like these can help minimize bad tables and give all your customers the great dining experience they deserve.
4. Don’t Underestimate The Importance Of HVAC
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It’s one of the more important decisions you’ll be faced with in your restaurant design. For example, commercial kitchens produce a lot of heat, aromas, and smoke. You don’t want these byproducts seeping into the dining room where they can affect your customer’s experience. Proper ventilation can ensure that this won’t happen.
Similarly, you have to take into account both the high and low temperatures outside your building along with the body heat of the people inside. On a really hot day, at maximum seating capacity, can your air conditioning keep your customers cool, or will your restaurant quickly become a sauna? The same goes for heating the winter. Can your furnace keep the dining room comfortable? You don’t want your customers bundled up in hats and scarves while waiting for their food.
5. Include Tableware In Your Design Scheme
Tableware—such as silverware, plates, glasses and napkins—makes a big impression on your customers. Even if you serve the best food in the state, cheap silverware can give the impression that you’re running a cheap establishment. Because of this, tableware should be considered as part of your overall restaurant design.
If your brand personality is more formal, you might choose heavier silverware or thicker plates. If your brand personality is more relaxed, you may choose to serve your food in baskets or on paper plates. You wouldn’t want to serve Kobe beef and baked Alaska with plastic silverware and paper plates. Similarly, it would be out of character to serve a burger, fries, and a beer with fancy, flowery china and long-stemmed drinkware. Let your brand personality be your guide when it comes to choosing tableware for your restaurant.
6. Make Uniforms A Priority
The uniform your employees wear should be an extension of your brand. Because of this, the uniform should be considered as part of the overall restaurant design process. Uniform choices will also be influenced by your brand personality. For a more formal restaurant, consider a button shirt and bow tie or straight tie for the men, and a blouse and skirt for the women. For a more relaxed atmosphere, consider black slacks and a button shirt for both sexes. Again, it all depends on the message you want your restaurant to convey.
7. Give Special Attention To The Bathrooms
Other than the dining areas, the bathrooms are the most important area to consider when designing your restaurant. Don’t just think of this area as a stall and a sink, think of it as an extension of your brand. It’s a room where you can replicate your brand personality, color scheme, and even your logo so that your customer doesn’t lose the feelings you’ve worked so hard to elicit in the dining area.
The special attention you give to designing your bathroom should also extend to its upkeep and cleanliness. Bathrooms should be kept clean and should be checked at least once an hour. We recommend that you assign a bus person, food runner, or host the responsibility of checking it every half hour to ensure that it’s tidy and stocked with supplies. Remember, a dirty restroom reflects on the business as a whole and makes customers wonder about the cleanliness of the areas they don’t see.
8. Showcase Your Fare With A Properly Designed Menu
Your menu should be more than just a list of dishes and their prices. It’s one of the most important marketing tools your restaurant produces. Your menu should showcase and highlight not just your restaurant’s fare, but also your culinary and brand philosophy.
All of this can be shown in the choices you make for photos, language, size, presentation, fonts, layouts, and a whole host of other factors. It’s also important to make it easy for customers to find items by arranging them in logical order from appetizers to entrees to desserts. Another great way to display your food and make your menu easy to read is to highlight popular dishes with a graphic. This is an effective way to promote high-profit-margin dishes because the reader’s eye is naturally drawn to that section of the menu.
9. Don’t Skimp On Storage
Unfortunately, storage is seldom considered a priority until it’s too late. Many restaurateurs fail to consider storage when they’re designing their dream restaurant. But ample and easy-to-access storage space is important for the smooth operation and function of both your employees and your restaurant.
When evaluating your storage needs, it’s important to examine your restaurant’s purchasing process. Do you receive bulk deliveries once a month? Or do you receive small deliveries every week? Similarly, does some of your inventory require special security? The answers to these questions will help you determine the amount of storage your need.
It’s also important to make sure that storage space is easy to access, while at the same time away from high-traffic areas. Keep your storage at the back of the restaurant but provide hallways that are wide enough to move large boxes in and out without a lot of problems. You can store more commonly-used items along the perimeters of work areas so that your employees can get to them quickly.
Your success as a restaurateur is influenced by your staffing decisions, budgeting, and a host of other factors. To get more tools for your restaurant, cafe, coffee shop or retail store, including our free employee scheduling platform, visit GetSling.com today.