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Designing a Restaurant Layout that Works

Always dreamt of opening your own coffee shop, family restaurant or fine dining establishment? Perhaps you’ve already taken the first step and signed a lease on the perfect location? Wherever you are in your journey, take a moment to consider this practical interior design advice. We’ve also included some valuable insights from Renée de Waal, Managing Director of interior architecture and design firm Xperiencemakers which has numerous restaurants to its credit.

Getting started
Once you’ve decided on a space, the next step, says Renée, is to consider the psychological and practical flow. Give sufficient thought to how you can create an interior that is comfortable and memorable and where patrons and staff are able to move around with ease.

Toscana Dining Table

Toscana Dining Table

Design considerations
There are three key areas to address:

1. The entrance
This sets the tone for your establishment, so it’s important that it captures the look and feel of the interior and that it’s big enough to welcome patrons and make them feel comfortable.

2. The kitchen
What you serve your customers, and how you serve them, plays a crucial role in whether (or not) they become regulars. So, it’s important that the placement and layout of your kitchen area is carefully considered and that the needs of your kitchen and serving staff are met. The kitchen should, together with the storage space and restrooms, constitute around 40% of the total floor size.

3. The dining area
This should take up the remaining 60% of the restaurant. Considering it’s where your patrons will spend almost all of their time, you’ll definitely want to bear the following in mind:

  • Ensure adequate spacing between tables. You don’t want customers to feel that they’re hemmed in or that getting to the restrooms feels complicated. The amount of space you leave depends very much on the type of establishment you’re designing – allow more if it’s a fine dining restaurant and less if it’s a café or coffee shop.
  • Ensure that diners are in clear view of waitrons (and vice versa) at all times. This facilitates easy communication between both parties, which is likely to result in a happy customer experience.
  • Think about whether you want to include a bar area. If you do, Renée suggests positioning this section of the restaurant close to the outdoor flow.
  • Finally, create a space that is comfortable and looks beautiful. Which brings us to…

Choosing furniture
Deciding on chairs and tables can be difficult given the number of options available. What do the experts do? “It really depends on the personality of the space we’re trying to create,” says Renée “and the market we’re catering to.”

Tables can be especially tricky as there’s also the matter of square vs. round. If that’s your dilemma, perhaps this advice from Renée will help: “Definitely opt for mostly square tables as they are more flexible and space efficient. That said, a couple of 3-seater round tables can be thrown into the mix where the space needs softening.”

Finally, always choose good quality furniture that has been made to last. After all, it’ll be seeing a lot of traffic in its lifetime.

Choose Woodbender
For over 30 years, we’ve delivered quality bentwood furniture, handcrafted by a team of specialists, to the hospitality sector. Beautiful, comfortable and made to last, each item is manufactured in solid Ash timber imported from certified and sustainably managed forests in North America. And because it’s made to order, we can help you create the perfect furniture for your restaurant, whatever your design inspiration.

Keen to chat to us about your chair and table requirements? Give us a call on +27 21 854 6034 or email us at