Restaurant Design Problems

How to deal with common design problems of a new restaurant

Restaurant Design
••• Alvimann

Every restaurant has them. Certain areas that always seem to interfere with the flow of the dining room or kitchen. Perhaps it is a table that customers never want to sit at. Or maybe the kitchen is too small during a busy dinner rush. And there never seems to be enough money to create the perfect restaurant design. Below are some common restaurant design problems and ways to solve them, or at least work around them.

The Problem: the Table Where Nobody Wants to Sit

No matter how well you plan your restaurant dining room, there always seems to be at least one table that customers never want to sit at. Perhaps it is by the bathrooms, the kitchen door or the entrance. Drafts and foot traffic don't make for a very relaxing dinner.

The Solution: Try to avoid this scenario by checking the view of every seat in your dining room, before you open.

What will customers see and hear from each seat? You’ll be surprised that a table you think is fine, actually has a direct view of the dishwashing area or the ladies room. Ask yourself, do you really need the table? And if you do, is there a better place for it? Are you so busy that you seat that table every shift? If not, maybe you should remove it and use the space for a wait station or a storage cabinet for extra place settings or linens. If you do need the table, can you move it somewhere else in the dining room? By changing the configuration of your dining room, you may be able to find a better place for the problem table. 

The Problem: the Tiny Restaurant Kitchen

In a perfect restaurant world, we would all have spacious commercial kitchens, with miles of gleaming stainless steel prep tables and multiple ranges, grills, and fryolators. In the real world, you often get stuck with a closet-sized kitchen, tiny stove and no prep area. Great restaurant locations often have this problem. Older buildings, brimming with character, suffer from lack of space.

The Solution: Short of knocking down walls, you can make a small kitchen work by paring down your menu.

Limiting the number of items on your menu will reduce the amount of space needed for prep and cooking. It will also reduce the amount of storage needed for many different types of ingredients. Also being organized before the dinner rush will make cooking out of a small commercial kitchen a lot easier. Prep as much as you can, without sacrificing food quality, beforehand, to keep your dinner rushes smooth. 

The Problem: No Budget for a Restaurant Redesign

Opening a new restaurant is expensive, never mind trying to do major construction on an existing space. A bulk of your start-up capital goes to inventory and equipment, not leaving a whole lot left for restaurant design. So how do you put your own personal stamp on an existing restaurant space, with no money?

The Solution: To keep start-up costs under control, you may have to tweak your original restaurant plans to accommodate your new digs.

Instead of buying all new equipment, consider leasing or buying used, instead. If you can’t move walls around to suit your dining room design, you can install temporary dividers, made from lattice or paneling. Placing them on casters makes it easy to reconfigure your dining room to accommodate larger parties. And never underestimate the power of paint. It is inexpensive, easy to apply and can add warmth to any space, no matter how large or small.