Table Placement Blunders: 5 Common Table Layout Mistakes

Read Time: 11 minutes

Every detail of your restaurant makes an impression on your customers. From the outside appearance and location, to the architectural beauty of the inside, to the delicious food you serve, guests gauge their perception of your restaurant in every aspect. Table placement can either assist in creating the ideal atmosphere that highlights the positive elements of your restaurant, or it can contribute to an overwhelming, negative opinion of the space. Here are five common mistakes to avoid when planning the layout of your restaurant.


Not even considering the safety issues that come with overcrowded restaurant space, having too many tables crammed into your restaurant space can lead to an overall terrible experience for guests as well as a stressful workplace environment for staff.

When tables are overcrowded, the dining space will generate feelings of claustrophobia and a general stress reaction. This is especially problematic in fine dining establishments where intimacy is often desired. The noise that accompanies the overcrowding prohibits intimacy and communication between guests and between guests and staff.

If you are trying to find space to cater to more guests, first consider your occupancy limits. More tables will not be useful if they cannot be used. For safety, your place of business is allotted a certain maximum number of people that it can hold. This does include staff. In the event of an emergency, particularly a fire, customers and staff need to be able to feasibly escape the building. The occupancy limit ensures that everyone in the building can make it out of the designated exits promptly and without the risk of trampling. Be sure that you are following all rules regarding occupancy limits before trying to allow for more seating. Although this is just one of the many safety considerations, knowing your limits is a great start to figuring out how crowded is too crowded.

On the other end of the spectrum, having too few tables in a restaurant can also detract from the dining experience. Sparsely arranged tables can create an uncomfortably large distance between parties, leading to a lack of ambiance and making conversations feel exposed and public. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than a ten-foot walkway between tables, as it disrupts the sense of coziness and intimacy that diners often seek. An excessively open space may make guests feel isolated and observed, which is particularly unsettling in settings where a warm, inviting atmosphere is key. This imbalance can also negatively affect the restaurant’s atmosphere, making it feel empty and unwelcoming, and can significantly impact the establishment’s profitability. Just as overcrowding can be detrimental, underutilizing the dining space can prevent the creation of a lively, engaging environment that encourages patrons to stay longer and return in the future. It’s crucial to find the right balance, ensuring that the layout supports both a comfortable dining experience and efficient operation.

Ignoring Aesthetically Pleasing Elements of Your Restaurant

Imagine having a restaurant with large window views of the ocean. When considering that scenario, it wouldn’t make sense to place tables where guests are forced to face away from that lovely view. If the tables were turned to the side every guest at the table could catch a glimpse of the ocean.

Mistakes like these are often seen when poor planning goes into the table placement. Although not every restaurant comes with a magnificent ocean view, there are architectural elements or other pleasing elements of the restaurant that should be the focal point for all your table planning. Make sure tables and seats are turned to focus on these elements whenever possible.

On the contrary, avoid placing tables to face unappealing views. For example, a direct view of the restroom can be an unpleasant dining experience for both those at the table and those going in and out of the restroom. No one wants to make direct eye contact as they are walking out of the restroom doors. Respect privacy in these instances whenever possible.

Enhancing your restaurant’s ambiance with architectural wall panels and wall art can transform your space and enrich the dining experience, especially if natural views are limited. Incorporating textured wall panels can add depth and interest, turning ordinary walls into design features, while curated wall art can set the mood and complement your restaurant’s theme. Both elements serve as attractive focal points, ensuring every guest enjoys a visually pleasing environment. Discover our range of stylish options by visiting our pages on architectural wall panels and wall art, and elevate your restaurant’s interior to offer a memorable dining experience for all guests.

Lack of Balance

Going back to the hypothetical restaurant with the ocean view. If this were your restaurant you would want to capitalize on that view by allowing as many guests as possible to see the ocean. This can lead to overcrowding in that space. It can also lead to an imbalance. With several tables placed by the view of the ocean and fewer tables further in your space, an imbalance is created that, simply put, can feel off.

Tables can be evenly placed and still possess a sense of imbalance. Varying table sizes and shapes can affect the overall balance of the space as well as varying the distances between tables and the sizes of the aisles.

According to psychological studies on design, our minds are primed to find symmetry and patterns as a comfort. The right balance that implements symmetry and pattern, gives off the impression of safety and security. This perfect balance will give guests an overall pleasant experience before they even get to taste delicious food.

Inadequate Accommodations

The everyday business of running a restaurant can be chaotic. No day is guaranteed to be the same as the last. Because of the inability to plan for the types of customers you may serve or the group size that may walk through the doors, the table layout must be flexible enough to accommodate where needed.

The priority when considering accommodation is to allow for all who wish to dine in your restaurant to have the capability of doing so. This will be covered by rules and regulations required of you as a commercial establishment. Wheelchair accessibility and tables that can accommodate them are an absolute must when considering your table layout. This won’t just lead to customer dissatisfaction but could land your business in a lawsuit. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides resources to assist businesses in following rules and regulations and accommodating all customers. Use this information as a guide, not only in creating a proper table layout design but also in all areas of your business.

Regulations aside, restaurants should be able to accommodate varying party sizes. Without proper planning of table layout adaptability, large groups may end up disappointed and you may lose revenue.

There are several ways to address this issue. Drop-leaf table tops are an easy way to maintain the layout of your space while creating arrangements for a larger group of customers. If possible, the use of a space for long tables or even a separate room for large groups could be beneficial. Not only will this accommodate the larger party, but it will also maintain a level of intimacy for all guests in your restaurant.

For a casual dining experience, you can also use long tables for communal dining. This option has gained popularity and is a great way to be flexible with the varying sizes of guests who walk through the door.

Poor Table Selections

When considering your table layout, make sure to select the right tables. Restaurant table tops can either highlight the beauty of your business or become an eyesore that diminishes the overall appeal.

Select table tops that fit the overall theme of your restaurant. From table top material selections to shape and size, consider the best fit for the dining experience you plan to present. Too much mixing and matching of different elements can create a sense of discord in the space. Keep consistency in table material, size, shape, and overall style. Although different sizes are likely necessary to accommodate varying group sizes or different shapes might work in different areas of the restaurant, maintaining an overall consistency provides a relaxing and calming environment for the best dining experience.

Consider the best quality material that your budget can afford. Good quality leads to savings in the long term and provides a better dining experience. Laminate tables might be a cheap upfront cost; however, they are more prone to wear and tear and the moment they start to chip away they become an eyesore. Choosing a material like laminate can also diminish the type of dining experience you wish to provide. Solid wood table tops can be customized to fit your design preferences and needs and will last decades with proper care. Even when slightly worn, solid wood still holds its visual appeal.


In conclusion, the layout and atmosphere of your restaurant are as crucial as the quality of food you serve. By avoiding common pitfalls such as overcrowding, disregarding aesthetic elements, creating imbalances, failing to provide adequate accommodations, and making poor table selections, you can craft an environment that not only meets but exceeds customer expectations. Remember, every decision from table placement to the choice of tabletops contributes to the overall dining experience. Thoughtful planning and attention to detail will ensure that every guest leaves with a positive impression, turning first-time visitors into loyal customers.

To further refine your restaurant’s design and ensure you’re providing the best possible environment for your guests, consider revisiting your current setup. Assess whether it aligns with the principles outlined in this blog and make necessary adjustments. For more information, guidance, or to explore a range of suitable table options that align with your restaurant’s design and needs, please visit our home page or reach out to us through our contact page. Let’s transform your restaurant space into a perfect blend of functionality, beauty, and comfort, ensuring every guest’s visit is a memorable one.


What are common mistakes in restaurant table layout?

Common mistakes in restaurant table layout include overcrowding the space, failing to consider the flow of movement, ignoring customer privacy, neglecting accessibility standards, and not utilizing flexible furniture options.

Overcrowding creates a claustrophobic and uncomfortable atmosphere, hinders staff movement, disrupts the dining experience, and can even pose safety hazards in emergency situations.

The flow of movement is crucial for ensuring that staff can efficiently serve customers and that guests can move comfortably around the restaurant without obstructions, contributing to a better overall dining experience.

Ignoring customer privacy can lead to discomfort and a lack of intimacy for diners, negatively affecting their overall satisfaction and likelihood of returning.

Neglecting accessibility can result in a failure to accommodate all customers, including those with disabilities, potentially leading to legal issues and a loss of business from dissatisfied guests.

Flexible furniture, like drop-leaf tables and movable seating, allows for easy reconfiguration to accommodate different party sizes and events, maximizing space utility and customer comfort.

Poor table selection, such as choosing tables that don’t fit the restaurant’s theme or are made of low-quality materials, can detract from the ambiance and negatively impact the customer’s dining experience.

Not considering acoustics or sound padding options, can lead to excessive noise levels, making communication difficult and diminishing the overall dining experience for guests.

Placing tables too close to the kitchen or restrooms can result in unpleasant smells, noise, and high traffic, disrupting the dining experience and causing discomfort for guests.

Failing to consider lighting can result in areas that are too bright or too dim, impacting the visibility and mood, and diminishing the overall dining experience.

Inconsistent furniture styles can create a disjointed and unappealing aesthetic, detracting from the restaurant’s design and reducing the overall appeal to customers.

Not having a variety of table sizes and types can limit the restaurant’s flexibility to accommodate different group sizes and dining preferences, leading to lost revenue and customer dissatisfaction.

Inadequate spacing between tables can lead to a lack of privacy, difficulty in navigating the space, and an uncomfortable dining experience for customers.

Considering overall balance and symmetry in table layout is important for creating a visually appealing and functional dining space that enhances customer comfort and satisfaction.

Not planning for peak times can result in inadequate seating, long wait times, and a chaotic dining environment, leading to customer frustration and lost business.

Ignoring exterior views and natural light can result in missed opportunities to enhance the ambiance with natural scenery or lighting, potentially diminishing the dining experience.

Failing to update or refresh the layout periodically can result in a stale and outdated dining environment, decreasing its appeal to both new and returning customers.

Not considering future expansion or reconfiguration in the initial layout plan can limit the restaurant’s ability to adapt to changing business needs or customer preferences, potentially hindering growth and success.

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