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Every facet of restaurant design and layout is a product of the goals and concept of the business. The bigger the goals and concept, the more resources should go into design elements. The menu, clientele, and price points should all support the layout of the restaurant to create a single concept. Finally, design elements should support each other. No single element should stand out from the others without wanting to point customers in that direction.

Costs: It’s tempting to cut corners when designing the layout of a restaurant. But doing so can lead to long-term problems and unnecessary renovations. As with any investment, it’s important to consider a ten- or twenty-year business plan when deciding where and how to spend money during the design process.

Costs should be funneled toward elements where revenue is generated. For most restaurants, this includes the entrance, lobby, bar, and dining room. An upscale restaurant has to have upscale furnishings and design elements. A casual restaurant can’t overlook the need for a new, clean atmosphere. The bottom line is that guests have great food and a clean, comfortable environment in which to enjoy it. A restaurant operator has to be willing to spend what it takes to achieve this.

Space: The amount of space in the building is usually a product of the property and the type of lease/mortgage. How that space is allocated – at least in the case of a new property – is another story. Ample space has to be given to the kitchen for food storage and equipment. An area for staff and a manager’s office are necessary. Otherwise, revenue-generating areas must be maximized. This includes the dining area, bar, and hostess stand, all of which should be large enough to accomplish the goals of the business.

Entrance: The entrance is the first and last impression your business makes. It has to be inviting, and it has to capture the essence of your restaurant. It should be big enough for guests to gather if there’s a wait, but not so big that it takes space away from the dining room and bar.

A good entrance contributes to the natural flow of a restaurant’s layout. It sends guests on their way to a revenue-generating destination. It provides a platform for the buzz of the building. Something positive should be happening inside your building – whether it’s great food, a crowded bar, or a banquet event. This should be visible from the entrance, and convince guests to enter.

Kitchen: The kitchen has to have adequate space for all of the necessary equipment, plus ample room for employees to work. Necessary equipment can include ovens, stoves, broilers, fryers, a dish machine, triple sinks, and plenty of shelf space. A prep area and industrial sinks usually accompany dry storage space.

The kitchen should be just large enough to accomplish the goals of the restaurant. Employees should be able to move comfortably and safely in a fast-paced, high-stress environment.

Food storage area: There must be plenty of room for food storage. This includes a walk-in refrigerator, a walk-in freezer and a dry storage area with plenty of shelf space. A new, roomy walk-in refrigerator is a wise investment for a new restaurant, since refrigeration failures are common and can lead to serious losses. Storage space should be in a corner or far wall of a kitchen, and preferably near the manager’s office. This way, it will be more secure and less prone to theft.

Office: The manager’s office should be as small as possible, while still allowing business to be properly conducted. It should be in a secure location of the building, far from the dining room, employee area, and buzz of the kitchen.

Employee Area: There must be space for employees to congregate, store personal belongings and hang coats. There must also be room for important information to be communicated, such as work schedules, managerial notices. The best opportunity to create this space is usually in or next to the kitchen area.

Dining Room: When designing dining room layout, a few questions stand out. Tables or booths? Open or tightly packed spaces? Dark or bright colors? Modern or classic fixtures? The answer to these questions comes with the clientele your business covets. The important point is that finding a middle ground with any of these questions usually makes a dining room attractive to all customers.

A dining room should have a natural flow, from the lobby to the bar to the dining room to the kitchen. Enclosed spaces and partitions generate opportunities for large parties and banquets. In many cases, a healthy combination of booths, tables, large tables and private spaces give the best chance to maximize revenue.

Bar: The bar has to fit into the concept of the restaurant. At the same time, it should stand alone as a comfortable destination for any dining experience your restaurant offers. A great bar space does both, while being visually inviting and highlighting the products the bar hopes to sell.

Restrooms: The restrooms are the most underrated aspect of the design and layout of the building. Most guests who dine in a restaurant will visit the restroom during their stay. The restroom has to have fixtures that contribute to the sense of cleanliness. It should be large enough to accommodate multiple guests without taking room away from the dining room.

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Water efficiency, Waste reduction and recycling, Sustainable furnishings and Building materials, Sustainable food, Energy, Disposables, Chemical and pollution reduction

While several of these categories will be defined by a restaurants operation, others have the ability to be defined by the restaurants design.  Those influenced by design there are three principal categories; water efficiency, energy use, and sustainable furnishings and building materials.  

There are numerous components of a restaurant which use water including rest rooms, prep sinks, hand sinks, bar sinks, mop sinks, ice makers, dishwashing systems, water lines for cooking equipment and the list goes on.  Specifying low flow plumbing fixtures and water efficient equipment can assist in reduced water use.  Energy use in a restaurant will be most defined by power consumption.

There are three categories that electrical load may be analyzed with in a restaurant use, plug load, lighting and mechanical equipment. Plug load will be driven by kitchen equipment.  Things like refrigeration, cooking equipment and food preparation equipment can draw substantial power to do their job. Reducing the quantity of required kitchen equipment to develop a menu is one approach to reduce energy use of a restaurant.

Power for mechanical equipment is largely driven by the equipment requirements for the kitchen design.  Less kitchen equipment will result in less need for conditioning of air from heat rejection of equipment use.  Grease cooking equipment is the worst offender because exhausted air requires additional air to be supplemented to the space to be made up.  Integrating natural ventilation into dining rooms in temperate climates in certain parts of the year can reduce energy costs of conditioning air as well.

The good news is that in the category of sustainable furnishings and building materials virtually all materials are gravitating towards a sustainable manufacturing process.  This is happening through the use of recycled content.  These are materials that have been bi-products or waste that are repurposed in the manufacturing process.   As an example all ceramic tile products are currently manufactured with recycled content.   Other building materials that are manufactured with recycled content are ceiling tile, solid surface countertops as well as vinyl flooring and wall covering products.  Low VOC paints and formaldehyde free casework are other examples of sustainable approaches to materials.  

The design of sustainable restaurant concept starts with the menu and types of food preparation required to support that menu.  The environmental design of that restaurants sustainable story can be further supported by reduced water use, reduced energy use and use of sustainable furnishings and building materials. 

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