Venturing into the restaurant business is very lucrative and financially rewarding when done right. There are factors to consider when starting out a restaurant. The first one is location. It has to be strategically placed to capture the attention of customers. For instance, it would be hopeless to start a fast food restaurant next to a McDonalds. You will run out of business, before it even starts. However, you can start a vegan restaurant next to a McDonalds with a large health tip billboard on the front to make them feel guilty each time they order a burger.
Another factor is the type of food and the niche of people you are trying to capture.Specialize in one type of food, for instance, you may prepare Mexican, Italian, Chinese, fast foods or even soul food.Equally important is the physical layout of your restaurant. Most restaurateurs do not understand that a restaurant’s layout can either build or destroy a business. You have to do it right the first time, otherwise you may be forced to dish out loads of money for infrastructural changes in the future.Proper restaurant plan will facilitate operational workflow in terms of comfort and better mobility. So, how do you plan a restaurant?
Plan According to the Floor Space
The most basic structure of a restaurant includes the kitchen and the dining area, split in a 40:60 ratio respectively. Reserving 40% of your space for the kitchen may seem a lot, but the kitchen is where the magic happens. It should therefore have enough space for quick cooking and movements. You don’t want your kitchen crammed up so much, as it could be a recipe for accidents and disaster. The kitchen should be the first place to plan before moving to the other areas.
The dining area should consume the most space to be able to accommodate as many people as possible. However, do not compromise customer comfort and easy mobility for the sake of higher traffic. Restrooms are also very important in restaurants and should be part of your establishment.Plan the restrooms next to the kitchen to take advantage of waterlines and plumbing. This will save you a lot of money. Depending on the size of your restaurant space, you may also include a waiting area next to the entry or a countertop/bar area for quick snacks and drinks. However, do not fret so much about these additions, as they are really not necessary if you lack the space to accommodate them.
Planning the Kitchen Space
The kitchen is the heart of your restaurant and it is due to this reason that it is the place you should set up first. This is a place you ought to put a lot thought and resources into, because when the kitchen processes fail, everything else ceases to exist. The kitchen space should take up 40% of the overall plan to allow sufficient space for food preparation, cooking and wait-staff pickup. There are three kitchen designs for restaurants that you may select from. They include Assembly Line, Zone and Island.
Assembly Line Kitchen Layout
This layout involves dividing the process of food production into 3 areas: food preparation, cooking, plating and server pickup. These are further divided into a chain of parallel stations. Food first goes through the preparatory stage, then moves to the cooking. After it is cooked, it moves to plating stage and then to the server pickup, where it is subsequently taken to the customers. It is the best setup for large operations where output is voluminous like in an institution or a very busy restaurant. It can also be used in a small restaurant that deals with one line of products, such as burgers, fries and pizzas. It also has very minimal worker movements, as workers are limited to their work spaces.
Island Kitchen Layout
This design has a centralized cooking area with all the ovens, fryers and grills located in the island. The circular perimeter forms the different work stations. This layout therefore allows more movements and the staff can easily multitask or take up several roles. Furthermore, you can easily supervise your staff without getting in their way. It is both effective for large and small operations.
Zone Kitchen Layout
This is the best layout, if you have a limited space because it can be adapted to various kitchen shapes and sizes. In a zone kitchen layout, the kitchen is organized into different work stations. There is a section for prep and cleaning, storage, baking and cooking zones and pickup.
Planning the Restrooms
The tricky part in any restaurant plan is where to place the restrooms. First of all, the restrooms should be accessible from the dining area. However, they should not be so close to the point that the restroom door becomes visible from the dining area. Even if the two rooms are adjoining, make sure the door is placed on the furthest end, where it is not visible. Secondly, the restrooms should be very hygienic. Apart from the dining area, this is the part of the restaurant that you client will most definitely visit. Make sure the restrooms are spotlessly clean. They should not be too dingy, stuffy or too small. They should have fresh air, enough lighting and large enough to accommodate several people at once.
Planning the Dining Area
How you choose to space your tables and chairs will depend on the furniture you select and the dining concept. The most important factor to remember however is that there should be ample space between tables and chairs to allow easy movements. Also, each customer should have enough space to be comfortable. For instance, many experts recommend 20 square feet of space for each person and 40 – 60 inches space between tables arranged in parallel fashion.
Remember, your dining area communicates your concept, your vision and is the selling point of your business. Your branding, color schemes, decorative accents, signature design and finishes should be included in the overall design of your dining area. If you don’t mind breaking bank, then go for a luxurious feel. If you are stretched financially, because of the initial cost involved in setting up a restaurant for the first time, then you can go for a simple design. However, you should concentrate on providing excellent food and services to compensate for the simplicity. In the future, you may choose to upgrade and rebrand.
Patio and Outdoor Dining
If you plan to include a patio or outdoor dining, then make sure the design and concepts of the dining area are also extended outdoors. However, you have to keep in mind that outdoor spacing guidelines are different from indoor guidelines. Outdoor furniture spacing and arrangements will be different. The most important thing is that there should be adequate space for movements. If your design involves umbrellas, ensure they are tall enough to prevent patrons and wait-staff from crouching. If your plan also includes a bit of flora, then there should be enough spaceson pathways to prevent people from coming into contact with the greenery.
Entry and Waiting Area
Although this is the first place your patrons will see when they come into your restaurant, it should be the last place you design. Many restaurateurs make the mistake of designing the waiting area first, which eventually eats into the space of the kitchen. The most important way is to work from the back to the front. Make sure the kitchen and the dining areas are allocated enough space, before you can even think of setting up a waiting area.At the end of the day, a waiting area it is not very necessary if you are low on space.
The entrance and waiting area are the two areas that will entice customers. They should therefore communicate your concepts and capture the imagination of customers with their intricate designs. The waiting area should have the same décor as the dining area with ample space for traffic flow in and out. If the space is scarce however, then you may opt for the bench on the wall design, instead of individual seats.