All About Designing a New Restaurant

Every Part of Restaurant Design

Tables in modern restaurant
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A new restaurant is an exciting business venture. However, designing a new restaurant can be overwhelming for a first-timer. How do you create an inviting atmosphere, while ensuring you have enough seating? How do you create a well-organized kitchen out of a blank space? Add in issues with fire codes, ventilation, and other building codes, and it’s hard to know where to start. To make it easier, I've broken down the basics of restaurant design- no matter the concept or theme- into specific areas to help you get started.

Dining Room

The center of any restaurant is its dining room. It's where the customers gather and it should be welcoming and comfortable. Check with the local fire code marshal or other authority about the seating capacity of your dining room. Once you know how many people you can safely serve at one time, you can plan where to place tables and chairs, as well as a wait station. Before your opening day, take a moment and sit in every seat in the dining room, to assess the view and decide if the table needs to be repositioned.

Read more about how to plan a restaurant a dining room.

Restaurant Kitchen

The heart of a restaurant is its kitchen. Even though most commercial kitchens are not in view of the public, the layout is just as important as the dining room. The size of the kitchen and the type of food you are serving will dictate what type of commercial equipment you'll need to purchase and the layout of the kitchen. Read more about planning a restaurant kitchen.

Restaurant Bar

If you plan to have a full service bar in your restaurant - one that customers can sit at for drinks and a meal- it should be just as welcoming as your dining room. It should also be functional for the restaurant, since it is where servers ordering and pick up drinks for their tables. Read more about setting up a restaurant bar.


These are often overlooked in the overall restaurant design plan. Don't make your restaurant an afterthought. Usually restaurants occupy a small space, so it’s easy to dress them up and give them some character, without spending a lot of money. A coat or two of funky paint and some inexpensive artwork can go a long way. The most important part of a restaurant's restrooms is cleanliness. Cleaning the restrooms periodically throughout the day will present a good image of your restaurant to patrons.

Outdoor Design

If you are fortunate enough to have an outdoor dining space, such as a deck or patio, your restaurant theme should extend there as well. Sturdy outdoor tables and chairs are a must. Planters and small fairy lights can add additional ambiance. If the view from your outdoor dining area isn't all that great, like a parking lot for example, consider building a lattice wall with some climbing plants or other divider. And don't forget about shade. Umbrellas or awnings are vital during the hot summer months for customer comfort.

Waiting Area

If you have the space for a waiting area, be sure to have benches or chairs for customers. Also keep some menus nearby, so they can peruse them as they wait. This is also a good place to display a bulletin board of other events at your restaurant (wine tastings, weekly specials, happy hour, etc...).

No matter what your theme or concept, a new restaurant should have well thought out design for the dining room and kitchen. Every part of your restaurant design works together, to create a unique experience that will keep customers coming back!