Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Rule of Numbers


I have found with many first time restaurant clients, that they have very grandiose yet impractical ideas about how much seating they will have, when opening their new restaurant. There are several constants that should always be taken into consideration early on, when designing a dining area.
For the sake of example, let's look at a fictitious project, now in the state of an empty box. Logic tells us, the more seats we have, the more guests we can seat, the more money we can make per seating turnover. Well let's add these variables into the equation.
1. The more seats you have filled, the larger the kitchen needed to serve the guests.
2. The larger the kitchen space the smaller the dining room can be.
3. The larger the kitchen, the larger the kitchen and waitress staff.
4. The larger the general staff, the more parking space needed.
5. The more of the parking space used by staff, the less parking space available for guests.
6. The more guests and staff combined, the more restroom facilities will be needed.
7. The more restroom space created, the smaller the dining area can be.

These are all critical considerations that need to be balanced early on, before beginning any thought to table placement.
Let's take a more critical look at variable #7. A.D.A. restrooms, (American Disabilities Act) requires a larger entryway with a minimum of 5'-0" turning radius for wheelchair users. This makes a rather large overall difference in the size of what was once a standard restroom. If not taken into consideration, plan on subtracting an additional 150sq' from your dining floorspace.
Having subtracted for kitchen and Restroom space, the following are additional areas that will determine the actual space available for seating.

1. When laying out tables, a minimum of 3'-0" space needs to be allotted between the seat backs of one table to the seat backs of the adjoining tables. This loss of space can be minimized by placing rows of tables on the bias, or in a diamond configuration.

2. A minimum of 4'-0" is recommended between rows of tables to accommodate not only your food laden waitstaff, but also the movement of guests.

3. One or more waitress stations, depending on the size of the restaurant, will be needed to provide for the needs of seated guests. Providing coffee, tea, soft drinks, water, additional flatware, napkins and the like. these areas need to be close enough to the guests for the server to anticipate the guests needs, but creatively cloaked, as not to be a visual distraction.

4. An adequate sized waiting area adjacent to the hostess station should always be provided for the comfort of the guests in wait, as well as the privacy and comfort of those guests dining. This area will also become useful for those guests taking cell phone calls.


So we can now get a fair approximation of the available dining area remaining. Maximizing this space is now key to maximizing seating numbers.
Booths are always popular with guests, but a group of two sitting at a booth for four will monopolize two excess seats for that turnover. A better way of creating maximum flexibility and the desired atmosphere of having booths is by utilizing the banquet.
A banquet (ban-ket') is a long bench, upholstered much as the bench of a booth, running the length of the dining room. an assortment of 2 and 4 top tables spaced 4'-0" apart can be placed facing the banquet and backed with dining room chairs. This orientation gives you quite a few options for any sized group. Tables and chairs are simply slid together along the banquet creating 2 tops, 4 tops, 6 tops, whatever is needed, without the unnecessary loss of additional seating. this configuration also takes up less floor space than a row of booths while providing more available seating.
Corner booths which accommodate 5-6 guests can be used at each end for large groups, as these larger booths are rarely taken by couples.

These tips, along with the mandatory requirements listed above, should give you the maximum seating numbers allowable to the size of the structure.

4 comments:

Michaela said...

GREAT PHOTOS!

Madisen said...

Great information! Sometimes we forget that there is more to design than just aesthetics and that the technical aspects of a space are really the most important. If the space isn't functional, then how can people come and enjoy the aesthetics of the space?

Susan Huckvale Arann said...

You are spot on! Hospitality design has some very unique challenges. I love what you did in the entry.

loft conversion said...

great job