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Tips for designing your restaurant floor plan

Editorial Team

6 min read
Woman greeting guests at a restaurant

Optimizing your restaurant’s floor plan is critical for maximizing sales and increasing operational efficiency. Floor plan optimization is also vitally important given how competitive the dining industry is – whether you operate a full-service establishment, quick-service restaurant, or anything in between.


This article explains what restaurant floor plan design is and why it matters. It also looks at restaurant layout ideas to help optimize sales for your growing business.

What is a restaurant floor plan design?

With limited real estate, restaurants must design their floor plans to maximize seating and comfort – while minimizing unnecessary bottlenecks for their waitstaff. This certainly holds true for the main dining area. However, floor plan design also extends to all the connected components – including the kitchen, bathrooms, and waiting areas. As such, it’s best to adopt a holistic approach to intelligent floor plan design – one that optimizes your restaurant’s backend and frontend operations.

Why does restaurant floor plan design matter?

There are several reasons restaurant owners invest so much time and effort optimizing their floor plans:

  • Efficiency is arguably the most important. For waitstaff to do their job, they need unobstructed throughways between the kitchen and dining area.
  • Dining comfort is another major factor, with many restaurants ditching grid designs in favor of scattered layouts in which each table occupies its “intimate” bubble.
  • Capacity seating is one final factor. The goal is to service as many customers as possible to maximize sales. However, it’s important you do this without negatively impacting dining comfort.

How to design a restaurant layout

Every establishment is unique, so you may need to play with restaurant floor plan ideas until you find a winning combination. It’s best to think of your restaurant as a wholewith designated zones that all fit seamlessly.

1. The kitchen

The kitchen is the heart and soul of the restaurant. If it stops, the entire business stops. This is why it’s imperative to have designated zones for all the core components of food prep – including cooking, washing, drying, and storage. Ideally, your restaurant kitchen floor plan should allow personnel to freely move between these zones without getting in one another’s way.

The appliances you install can also impact overall kitchen efficiency. For example, many restaurants are switching from gas stoves to induction ranges – a move that not only provides chefs with more precision when cooking, but also helps reduce the overall heat in the kitchen itself. This restaurant kitchen floor plan concept extends all the way to the pickup area. For example, having one kitchen entry dedicated to outgoing dishes and another dedicated to incoming (“empty”) plates can help minimize unnecessary friction among the waitstaff as they travel back and forth from the kitchen.

2. The dining area

The dining area is what most people think of regarding floor plan design. The goal here is to include as many tables as possible without sacrificing personal comfort or workflow efficiency.

Common best practices for achieving this include:

  • Using slightly smaller tables and chairs that allow you to fit more customers in the same footprint. Just remember that undersized furniture can negatively impact the personal comfort mentioned above.
  • Creating clear pathways that allow servers to travel throughout the room with ease. Using a grid is the simplest way to do this, but you can still create distance between restaurant tables and easy travel lanes when implementing a scattered layout plan.
  • Not being wed to any single design. Just as restaurants frequently update their menus, you may need to test different layouts until you find one that resonates with your staff (and your customers).

Another way to minimize unnecessary back-and-forth is to use scannable QR codes that always stay at the table (in place of printed menus that must be hand delivered by waitstaff). Some restaurants have taken the concept even further with Scan to Order technology that allows customers to use their mobile devices and:

  • Download the latest menus – complete with pictures, pricing, and availability
  • Place their orders directly with the kitchen – without going through a waiter
  • Request and pay for their bills – again, without involving waitstaff

Scan to Order technology takes some time to set up, but this self-service option could help reduce your team’s workload – saving you valuable time and money.

3. Waiting areas and restrooms

Though often overlooked, the restrooms and waiting area are also part of the larger floor plan design. Here are some tips to help you optimize both:

  • Make certain the bathroom is always clean throughout each shift (and not just at the beginning). Having dirty facilities is always unattractive, but when food is involved, customers are more likely to notice.
  • If you have the option, it’s often best to install restrooms closer to the entrance of your restaurant. This allows guests to use the facilities as they leave or wait – without crowding the main dining area.
  • Keep the waiting area as uncluttered as possible, since bottlenecks can easily form at the front door as new arrivals wait for tables to clear. It’s still a good idea to include some chairs for elderly customers or parents with young kids. Some restaurants invite guests to wait at the bar. Doing so helps the time pass faster – and you can generate a few extra sales.

Having a coat check station at the entrance can make the waiting room itself a little more crowded. However, it frees valuable real estate on the dining floor since customers no longer need to drape heavy winter coats across the backs of their chairs.

4. The back office

If your restaurant has an admin office, breakroom, or staff area, you’ll need to optimize these as well. Using staggered schedules can help minimize unnecessary overcrowding in these high-traffic zones. Restricting access to the back of the house can also help improve flow. For example, most waitstaff will want to use the breakroom at some point during or between shifts, but not everyone needs direct access to the office or supply closets.

An easier approach to restaurant floor plan design

For most restaurant owners, floor plan optimization is an ongoing process, complete with starts, stops, and messy do-overs. Fortunately, you no longer have to rely on trial and error.

Many restaurant owners depend on Clover Canada’s range of POS solutions to optimize their operations. In addition to securely accepting credit and debit cards at the table, our payment solutions come with online ordering capabilities so that you can service customers at the curb or on delivery. With this strategy, you’re no longer limited to the physical real estate within your eating establishment.

Better still, our POS systems integrate seamlessly with the Clover App Market, allowing you to expand your payment environment with any number of third-party plug-ins – whether you need help designing floor plans, managing happy hours, or rearranging employee schedules.

If you’re looking for a POS system that can automate many of the most time-consuming aspects of running a growing restaurant, schedule a free demo with a Clover Specialist today.

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