The Importance of Space Planning in Restaurant Design for Optimal Customer Flow

It’s very easy to regard a restaurant as simply somewhere where food is prepared and served. Selected by diners based on their favourite cuisines, the wide selection of restaurants which adorn our high streets and popular destinations connect diners with classic and innovative and creative dishes.

But we’re here to remind you that a restaurant is so much more than just the food it serves. In fact, when it comes to restaurant design, food service and preparation is just one component of the overall plan and design.

That’s because a restaurant is where diners don’t just eat but also where they get together and enjoy their downtime, revelling in the service, experience, and atmosphere provided by the restaurant team. All of this starts and ends with the layout and way that a space is created – which is exactly where this blog post is going to take us.

What is Space Planning?

Space planning is used as a way of segmenting your restaurant floor into the different guest experiences and interactions – enabling you to consider what is needed and how each area can contribute towards your theme and interior design.

In a restaurant specifically, space planning connects the customer experience and customer journey with operational efficiency, so that the team can create a cohesive flow from guest arrival to their meal, access to facilities, and other interactions.

To understand just how important each section of the restaurant floor is when it comes to space planning, let’s take a closer look at the different areas to focus on.

Key Components of Effective Space Planning

Restaurant space planning layout

Entry and Waiting Area

This is the first impression that visitors and diners will get of your restaurant, so ideally it needs to be welcome and spacious but also efficient. If guests are waiting to come in, make sure that they are not hanging around in a doorway but rather have somewhere to come in and wait, like a sofa area or even a bar.

Dining Area

It’s important to balance sufficient seating to support your restaurant as a business, with making sure that you don’t push the limit beyond a comfortable capacity. This doesn’t just require a focus on space but also the amount of noise in the dining area.

Consider segmenting the dining area with screens, indoor plants, and other features which optimise privacy without taking up too much space.

Kitchen and Service Areas

The kitchen should be planned out to enable efficient food preparation and service, with an eye to health and safety and a smooth transition between kitchen and the dining space. Remember that waiting staff will need to carry plates to and from the dining area, and so need to be able to get there easily without impacting the presentation of the food.

Restrooms and Amenities

Finally, consider the facilities and amenities beyond the dining experience itself. Factoring accessibility into the placement and design of the bathrooms is key, incorporating extra design features and standout experiential offerings without compromising on the layout and use of space.

The Role of Customer Flow in Space Planning

As a restaurant owner, the first and arguably the most important thing you need to consider from a space planning point of view is how the customer journey influences your design and the way that you bring your restaurant to life in line with the customer experience.

You want customers to feel welcome as soon as they arrive and instantly know where to go, to avoid congestion and improve the dining experience from start to finish.

But no matter how much planning you do, there are always some challenges linked with space planning that you will need to overcome…

Space Planning Challenges To Overcome

In a restaurant, you typically find that entranceways get busy at peak dining times, that corridors and walkways can often appear dark and dingy, and that the bar gets steadily busier as you move further into the evening. Some other challenges include a lack of privacy for diners at busy times, and difficulty in balancing different diners, from family groups to intimate date nights.

One approach is to create private dining options for larger groups to improve the experience and use lighting to improve visibility in hallways and throughways. Interior features can also help to maximise privacy between tables, while having a table service for drinks will keep the bar open.

Making Space Planning a Priority in Your Restaurant

Space planning is crucial if you want your restaurant to be fit for purpose and suitable for the experience that you want to deliver.

From the layout of your kitchen to the customer journey from entrance to table, a professional interior design company can help to match your vision with the space available – planning every aspect of the customer experience so that you can control and optimise it.

To book a consultation and discuss how to make the best use of your restaurant space for customer flow and efficiency, get in touch with Carroll Design today.

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