Unlike commercial kitchen design guidelines, restaurant design guidelines are a little more difficult to generalize since every restaurant has its own unique feel and style. There are a few rules of thumb that we will share with you here, but in this day and age, when speaking about your interior restaurant design guidelines, the American with Disabilities Act, or ADA requirements will be one of the more important aspects you will need to address.
The Architect of Record (AOR) on any project will be the design professional responsible for ensuring all ADA requirements are met throughout the building. Although this responsibility falls outside our restaurant kitchen design scope, we are however very familiar with the specific ADA Requirements for Restaurants, but will not delve into the specifics here since we are not licensed as architects or engineers. You are welcome to, and we strongly suggest that you do, review the links we’ve provided below which should give you some more in-depth information about the ADA restaurant design guidelines you will undoubtedly encounter.
ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) (.gov website)
ADA Guidelines for Restaurants (related article)
Again, we suggest always using a licensed architect or interior designer to create the restaurant layout to ensure you are satisfying all legal requirements to prevent any unnecessary delays in permitting. Now that we have gotten the legal items addressed, there are some restaurant design guidelines that will serve you well to keep in mind as you create your restaurant layout.
Restaurant Design Guidelines “Rules of Thumb”
Flow of Service
Think of your dining room staff as functioning as if they were on a one-way rail car, traveling in a circle. In a perfect restaurant layout, that would be exactly the case. The ideal situation is that all dining room staff travel in one direction to in order to prevent any cross traffic, potential bottleneck and efficient use of movement throughout the restaurant. Servers pick up drinks from the bar and deliver them to the tables in one direction, via the established traffic pattern. Bus people travel in the same direction, in the same traffic pattern to clear dishes, enter the kitchen, deposit them at the dishtable, exit the kitchen and repeat. The Servers again, follow the same traffic pattern to pick up food from the kitchen and deposit it at the tables, and so on, and so on, and so on. In a perfect scenario, your entire staff would effectively look as if they were on a merry-go-round that ran through your dining room.
Now this rule of thumb is always up for debate among restaurant consultants, and this one is also not to be taken as gospel since other factors can necessitate more or less server stations. With our disclaimer being met, we have found the most dining areas require one server station for every fifty seats in the dining area. This server station would include things like a POS terminal, coffee and other associated non-alcoholic beverages, replacement tableware and perhaps a dirty dish staging area. Again, depending on the configuration of your building, your dining room area, and if you have a liquor bar; you may need more stations, or perhaps several smaller POS only stations to quickly service your 50 patrons. Utilizing an experienced restaurant consultant will help you determine what approach is right for your concept, based on your unique operational needs.