Will you go with a modern restaurant floor plan resulting in less seating or a classic layout? Regardless of the size of your building, primary spaces play a significant role in how your restaurant feels, looks and functions.

Today’s Floor Plans: Smaller by Design

When developing a restaurant floor plan, the conventional method allots 60% to customer space and 40% to the kitchen. Doing so maximized the seating area to serve the most guests. However, the shift to off-premise dining is changing how we view restaurant layouts. 

Josh Broehl,  senior vice president and managing director of design firm Big Red Rooster, told trade website Restaurant Dive that dining in accounts for about 15% of a typical restaurant’s sales compared with roughly 40% several years ago. 

This shift to off-premise dining means owners want their restaurant floor plan designs to serve both on- and off-premise diners adequately. 

To accomplish this, restaurateurs may: 

  • Develop delivery and to-go spaces that simplify the guest experience.
  • Create a restaurant kitchen floor plan with extra prep space for off-premise orders.

Before using a restaurant floor plan maker, it’s essential to consider how you’ll incorporate your guests and future needs into the design. Start by analyzing your primary spaces to get a feel for which layouts will work for your restaurant. 

Consider the Primary Spaces

Restaurant floor plans include four primary spaces: kitchen, restrooms, dining room, and entry. How you configure these locations depends on a combination of factors like local and state regulations. 

While online restaurant floor plan creators help you visualize your layout, your first step is to review how your primary areas will function. After all, your kitchen may require extra space to handle carry-out and delivery prep. Or your entry might double as a pick-up area for customers and third-party delivery drivers. 

Turn your concept into functioning space while maximizing square footage with these restaurant floor plan ideas.

Design your restaurant kitchen with future needs in mind.

Plan the Kitchen Space

A restaurant’s kitchen floor plan can be a massive undertaking, requiring dedicated space for essential elements such as:

  • Cleaning and washing
  • Storage
  • Food preparation
  • Cooking
  • Service

In most cases, start with basic restaurant layout examples and consider how each concept fits your business model. But, “today’s kitchen will need to be built with tomorrow in mind,” according to QSR Magazine. A modern restaurant floor plan adapts to future opportunities. Consider these three standard commercial kitchen floor plans, then tweak one to fit your needs.

1. Island-Style Layout 

This open design places the main cooking equipment in the center of the kitchen with storage and food preparation along the outer edges. While this plan works best in a large square kitchen, a commercial kitchen designer can help you modify this style to fit your kitchen size.

2. Zone-Style Design 

With a zone-style plan, the major components (such as cleaning and food prep stations) line the outside walls in blocks. The center is left open for natural movement from one area to another. This plan allows for excellent communication but may prove tricky if you operate with a small crew. 

3. Assembly-Line Plan 

This kitchen floor plan often is used in quick-service restaurants, although it can be adapted for a variety of eateries. As the name suggests, the plan line across your kitchen. At one end, you might have a food-preparation area that shifts to a service space at the other end. Restaurateurs often place storage and dishwashing sections behind the assembly line. 

Get Help With Your Kitchen Floor Plan

Once you’ve decided on a general layout, play with the design using an online restaurant floor plan creator. Before making any significant decisions, consult with a contractor or architect who understands local and state codes for commercial restaurant layouts. 

  • Talk to your food-service vendors and ask if they offer kitchen design services or recommendations.
  • Vet local contractors who demonstrate experience with commercial restaurant kitchen floor plans.
  • Speak with your local health department, building inspector, and use guidelines from the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Place the Restrooms

As a cost-saving measure, restaurateurs often place the restrooms as close to the kitchen as possible. Why? Doing so reduces the amount of piping required and lowers the overall design cost. That said, your restroom floor plan must follow ADA guidelines. 

“When you’re laying out the initial choreography you start with making sure you have the right number of fixtures and a plan to be ADA compliant,” Tanya Spaulding, a principal at design firm Shea, tells trade publication Restaurant Development + Design. “Bathroom layout cannot be an afterthought.”

Key Considerations in Restroom Design

Consult with experts to ensure that your plan satisfies building codes and ADA requirements. For example, there are specific space guidelines for single-user and multiple-user restrooms. Other considerations include:

  • For a multiple-user space, the number of people who will use the bathroom at one time.
  • Your restroom’s proximity to the dining room and kitchen.
  • Available space for family-friendly features, such as changing tables.

In designing your restaurant space, it’s crucial to account for more than tables and chairs.

Design the Dining Area

The dining area is a fun space to manipulate when using an online restaurant floor plan creator. That’s because you can change up your table shapes and sizes a bit for flexibility. While many restaurant owners want to get the maximum amount of seating, this space also must meet ADA requirements. Total Food Service supplies these general seating guidelines

  • Fine dining: 18-20 square feet
  • Full-service restaurant dining: 12-15 square feet
  • Counter service: 18-20 square feet
  • Fast food: Minimum of 11-14 square feet

It’s crucial to account for more than tables and chairs. Consider how each of these restaurant floor plan ideas fit into your dining space. 

Dining Floor Plan Ideas

If you’re using a restaurant floor plan maker, then it’s easy to shift tables against walls and adjust your design. Yet, your dining room layout must make room for other elements, such as: 

  • Service station: This space may include ice bins, glasses, and soda machines. Plus, restaurateurs must plan for point-of-sale (POS) systems or other tablets and chip credit card readers. Smooth operation and flow equal satisfied customers, so it’s critical to get this area right. 
  • Flex area: For restaurants looking to entertain groups and hold events, consider designing a flexible space (think tables and chairs that can be moved as opposed to built-in booths).
  • Co-working space: As more restaurateurs turn to innovative ideas to generate income, the addition of co-working features into dining rooms has become more common. If you’re looking to counter slow times by offering workspace, then design an area conducive to this plan.

Place the Entry and Waiting Area

While the entry and waiting area is often an afterthought, modern restaurant floor plans tend to emphasize the importance of this space. Not only is it the first section that guests experience, it impacts off-premise service. 

  • Counter space for cash registers, POS systems, and third-party tablets. 
  • Dedicated shelving for to-go orders and deliveries.
  • Flexible space for host supplies like silverware and menus.
  • Room for future self-service kiosks.

Restaurant Layout Floor Plan: Entrance Sample

Your restaurant layout should create a flow that enables a variety of customers and staff to navigate the entry. 

An increase in carry-outs and delivery services is why more restaurateurs are choosing to locate their kitchen closer to the entrance, which allows for better communication between staff members. 

Adding a bar means your restaurant can serve more people.

Add a Bar or Countertop Area (Optional)

Consider adding a bar or countertop area so customers can get a drink or a quick appetizer while they wait to be seated (or wait for to-go orders). A bar space helps open up your entrance. It also gives you the ability to serve more people. Keep in mind that adding a bar or countertop area may increase your design costs as health department guidelines may require additional sink or sanitation requirements. 

Other Floor Plan Considerations

In addition to primary spaces, restaurant owners should consider various storage spaces for supplies and deliveries as well as dedicated employee areas. 

Storage space: Where will you store bathroom cleaning supplies, extra condiments, booster seats and high chairs? Where will commercial deliveries take place — and where will those items be stored? Do you need space for an additional cooler or freezer required for high-volume ingredients?

Employee room: Designing a restaurant floor plan that includes a space for staff may improve your turnover rate. Your restaurant’s break room provides an area for preshift meetings and offers staff a secure place for their belongings.

Plotting Your Restaurant Floor Plan

Whether you use a restaurant floor plan maker or enlist the help of an architect, planning out your restaurant’s layout is a lot of work. That’s why it’s crucial to develop a strategy that optimizes flow and operations while also taking future opportunities into account.