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ABC of Restaurant Planning & Layout


In any establishment a client’s first impressions on entering the dining room are of great importance. The creation of atmosphere by the careful selection of items in terms of shape, design and color enhances the overall décor or theme and contributes to the total harmony.

Physical Layout:

Good planning and physical layout are important keys to success in the food and beverage industry. An effectively planned and well-run restaurant is a highly lucrative business. If the nerve centers of the restaurant are not properly planned, it can result in chaos and inefficient service.

Layouts are plans of equipment placement for accomplishing work according to a specific operational programme. Good layout planning is well appreciated because it cuts on extra cost. It lends utility effectiveness and harmony to an enterprise. Good layout deals with the orderly and efficient arrangement of all work facilities and personnel. Work facilities mean the service areas, service points, maintenance points, storage area and so on.

Creating a good work environment that is both aesthetically appealing and practically efficient is a difficult task. However, it should be so arranged and organized physically that it will provide a work environment that is conducive to effective and harmonious work.

Objectives of Good Layout:

01)  Reduces production cost
02)  Increases employee safety
03)  Better quality product
04)  Reduces capital investment
05)  Better service to the customer
06)  Increases flexibility
07)  Reduces the work in process to the minimum
08)  Minimizes material handling and loss
09)  More effective utilization of the floor space
10)  Reduces work delays and stoppages
11)  Better work methods and utilization of labor
12)  Improves control and supervision
13)  Easier maintenance
14)  Better utilization of equipment and facilities
15)  Elimination of congestion points

Decisions to be taken prior to the actual plan are:

1) The objectives of the organization must be clearly defined and interpreted.
2) A programme must be prepared to describe the needs. Location and some of the architectural features known.
3) A flow plan developed compatible with the known desires and finance available.

Steps in planning:

The following order is suggested for determining information for the planning process.

1) Deciding on the location and the type of operation.
2) Space allocation.
3) Planning the functional and supporting areas.
4) Equipment selection.

Factors to be considered when planning a restaurant:

·      Décor – lighting and color
·      Furniture
·      Chairs
·      Tables
·      Side boards
·      Linen
·      Crockery
·      Glassware
·      Tableware – flatware, cutlery and hollow ware.

Dining Areas:

Calculating space for dining areas can be difficult because of the many choices available. For example, final space required for a dining room is dependent upon the following variables:

1) Type of seating to be provided:
     ·      Tables and chairs
     ·      Booths
     ·      Counters
     ·      Banquettes
     ·      Combination.

2) Table / sizes desired
3) Table shape desired
4) Pattern of table arrangements
5) Aisle space desired
6) Number of service stations needed.

A suggested approach that allows a planner to evaluate these variables and their effect on the dining space per seat is modular concept. For this situation the module contains space for the tables, the seats and the appropriate share of the service and access aisles.


The first step in the modular concept is to select the size and shape of the table to be considered. This is done in relation to the menu, the type of service and the atmosphere to be created in the dining room.



Minimum sizes in "

Spacious in "

Tables for 1s or 2s





24 x 24

24 x 30




30 x 30

30 x 36



Table for 3s or 4s







30 x 30

30 x 42




42 x 42

36 x 48



Tables for 5s or 6s






30 x 60




42 x 72



The second step is to select the aisle space to be used. Aisle space in dining areas may be divided into service aisles and access aisles. Service aisles usually range from 2.5 feet minimum for a limited menu operation to as wide as 4.5 feet for a dining room featuring side table food operation. Access aisles are provided to allow people to get into and cut out of the chairs easily. Thus, the type of customer, the size of chairs and the desired atmosphere (crowded versus spacious) are the critical factors in selecting the access aisles. Access aisles are generally 1.5 feet to 2 feet wide as a minimum. Combined service and access aisles are usually sized from 3 feet to 4.5 feet.

Having selected the table size and shape and the desired aisle space the next step is to consider possible table arrangement patterns. Square or round tables may be arranged into a rectangular or diagonal pattern. The diagonal pattern is more efficient in the use of space than rectangular pattern.

Tables and Chairs:

Tables, chairs and banquettes should be large enough to seat diners comfortably without crowding. Distances between tables are sized to enable waiters/waitresses to move through the area while serving and allow the guest to eat and converse without being distracted.
Selection of chairs is critical since the greatest body contact is made with them. Chairs must have suitable shape, angle of seat and back, size relationship to table to be comfortable. The shape of table should be considered in relation to the dining mood to be created. Round tables for example, tend to promote communication among diners.

Combination of tables, booths and banquettes are frequently planned to appeal to a variety of market segments. Cahiers should be placed for the ease of access and in consideration of flow patterns. Ideally they should be located outside the dining area i.e. in the pantry near the ‘in’ and ‘out’ doors. Their location in the restaurant detracts from the ambience created.



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