Designing a restaurant is not an easy task…
From the aspiring restaurant owner to the most established restaurant design companies, each new project presents its own complications that can slow down construction and delay a grand opening. Regardless of the size or type of restaurant you are opening, your customers will need tables to gather at to enjoy their food. Determining the right amount and styles of tables for your restaurant early in the process can help prevent many future headaches.
Step 1: Determine the total number of people your space can seat by calculating the square footage.
To do this you must measure the space and do some simple math. Here is an example diagram of a restaurant to help us calculate square footage. In this floor plan, we have 6 dimensions that will give you your total restaurant square footage that can be used for seating. Below is the math:
15’x20’ = 300 s.f.
30’x60’ = 1800 s.f.
10’x30’ = 300 s.f.
For a total of 300+1,800+300 = 2,400 s.f.
Step 2: Calculate how many people your space should seat.
I say “should” seat as I would only proceed with the next steps by utilizing an architect, or similar professional, to help you spatially plan out the space & see how traffic will flow. As a general rule of thumb, the least amount of people that you will fit is 1 person for every 18 square feet of floor space. Typically the most you will fit is 1 person for every 10 square feet of floor space. In our example we have determined there to be 2,400 s.f. of usable floor space, so the following math will show how to calculate the potential number of seated people for that space:
2,400/18 = 133 people
2,400/10 = 240 people
From here, we see that with very large banquet style seating we could potentially fit up to 240 people. At the very least, with much smaller tables and much more room in traffic areas, you’ll fit up to 133 people.
The seating guidelines that we recommend for all types of restaurants are:
Counter Service Restaurant or Fine Dining: 1 person for every 18-20 square feet
Full Service Restaurant or Commercial Cafeteria: 1 person for every 15-18 square feet
Commercial Cafeteria: 1 person for every 12-15 square feet
School Lunch Room, Fast Food or Banquet Room: 1 person for every 10-11 square feet
Step 3: Determine what size of restaurant tables you want to use.
There are a lot of factors involved in deciding which table top sizes will work best, in general here are some questions to consider when making that decision:
How large are your restaurant’s plates?
Will there be utensils on both sides of the plates?
Is it a family-style dining experience?
How long do you want your patrons to stay?
Will you be hosting larger events?
Ultimately it will be your menu, the atmosphere you want to create, and the way you serve your customers that will dictate the amount of table top space you want to provide for your customers. Below is a diagram to help you visualize how many people can be seated at the most common sizes of restaurant tables. Our team at Timeworn is able to craft nearly any size and shape of table to fit any type of restaurant and can help you decide which table is right for your space.
Step 4: Determine how many ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) restaurant table tops you will need.
You can read our blog on ADA restaurant tables to determine this number. You should also check with your local building inspector to make sure there are not any additional state requirements that can add to the number of ADA accessible tables in your restaurant. In California, for example, you are required to have a minimum of 1 ADA restaurant table or more for each type of seating. So, if your restaurant has 10 booths, 1 must be ADA compliant; or should you have 5 large community tables, 1 must be ADA compliant.
Step 5: Confirming your table selections.
If you own an existing restaurant or are making minor adjustments to the layout of your restaurant tables, this can be done as easily as putting tape on the floor to make sure you’ve accounted for enough space between tables. If your restaurant is new, we highly recommend that you work with your architect or designer by having them draw in your table top selections so you can clearly see how traffic will flow. Although we do not provide restaurant design service at this time, we at Timeworn are willing to review your floor plan and make any suggestions should we see something that may work better.
Step 6: Contact Us!
At this point you are ready to reach out to Timeworn to request samples or restaurant table tops and receive a quote!
For the restaurant owner starting to design their location, there will inevitably be a lot of questions. We here at Timeworn love helping restaurant owners through these questions and guiding them towards the best table top solutions for their restaurant. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions we receive with regards to laying out a restaurant and how to select the right restaurant table tops:
Does the type of restaurant change the number of table tops needed?
Definitely. Fine dining restaurants will typically need more space on their restaurant table tops for the additional dinnerware, glassware, etc. Their customers generally eat in groups and can be seated for an hour or more so they must feel comfortable. For these reasons, it’s much more common to use larger restaurant table tops in fine dining establishments.
In comparison, fast dining restaurants will typically use smaller table tops. These types of restaurants generally do not require as much table space and clients are more likely to eat in smaller groups or alone. In addition, these restaurants typically do not have servers which means there is less room needed between tables.
How much space should be left between tables in a restaurant?
A rule of thumb for restaurants with servers: maintain 38 – 48 inches between seatbacks (pushed in) to allow enough room for servers to move around safely.
What are the pros and cons of a few larger tables vs. a lot of smaller tables?
For restaurants that typically host larger groups, having a few larger tables is more practical as the employees don’t have to frequently move tables together to accommodate. Larger restaurant tables provide one continuous plane and therefore are less likely to be wobbly or uneven.
Conversely, smaller table tops provide more versatility by being easily moved. However, moving shorter restaurant tables together to create a longer table can result in unevenness between the different table tops and employees run the risk of scratching the floor by dragging the table bases around the restaurant. Depending on the table bases used or the flooring type, shorter table tops could end up being wobbly when moved frequently.
What are the pros and cons of adjustable table sizes?
A growing trend in restaurant table top designs are flip-up leaves. This simple addition allows restaurant owners to quickly expand the number of seats available at a table. For example, a square 36”x36” table top that seats four can be expanded to a 51” round table top that seats six.
One downside of flip-up leaves is that they add a considerable amount of weight to the table top and can make them difficult to move.
Should I get square or round table tops for my restaurant?
Always keep in mind that square restaurant tables can be combined and stored very easily if needed. It’s not possible to combine round restaurant tables for additional seating.