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Aspects of Restaurant Building Design: An Expert’s Guide

A professional design team working on a restaurant building design.

Get informed on the essential aspects of restaurant building design and learn how to make a lasting impression with your restaurant space.

Key Takeaways

  • Designing a restaurant is a lot of work
  • Multiple parts of the building must be considered
  • The design will have a significant influence on the restaurant’s success
  • A professional designer can streamline the process

Restaurants are no longer just places to eat – they are places to experience culture, art, and culinary delights. Customers spend a better part of their day in these establishments to escape their daily life’s everyday hustle and bustle. As such, careful thought must go into restaurant building design to ensure a pleasant guest experience.

well-designed restaurant building exudes charm, ambiance, and functionality. It goes beyond just aesthetics – the layout must consider guest comfort, safety regulations and maintain an efficient workflow for staff.

Creating a well-designed restaurant requires thoughtful consideration of the many components, including efficient seating, clean washrooms, sufficient capacity, and a well-thought-out kitchen design. Accessible entrances and exits are also important. These elements help to create an enjoyable dining experience. 

This detailed guide goes in-depth into the different aspects of a restaurant building plan and provides some tips to remember when handling the design. 


The seating area is arguably the most critical part of a restaurant. It’s where customers sit, dine, and socialize. When planning out seating, it’s crucial to think about space:

  • How much room do guests need to dine comfortably?
  • How many tables can be fit into a particular space?
  • Are there enough chairs to accommodate the number of guests?

The seating design must also consider the traffic flow in the restaurant, allowing for efficient movement and enough space for customers to walk without tripping over furniture or knocking into tables.

A sleek, modern design can make a restaurant feel more inviting and comfortable. Mix up the seating options with different sizes of tables and chairs, and consider offering both open and private seating areas for customers to choose from. 

The colors and materials you select for the furniture should enhance your restaurant’s overall look and feel. Muted tones such as black, grey, and white give a subdued, soft look, while brighter colors such as red, yellow, and orange bring energy into the atmosphere and liven up the space. Wooden chairs and tables give off an earthy, natural vibe, while metal chairs and glass tables give an industrial and modern look. The seating design should complement the overall style and theme of your restaurant. 


Do you remember that one time you stepped into a restaurant washroom in dire need of use, only to be met with a nauseating smell and a broken toilet seat? Or when the sink was clogged, and the faucet sputtered out a drizzle instead of a steady stream? An unpleasant washroom experience can quickly ruin a customer’s overall impression of the restaurant.

Prioritize hygiene and functionality in your washroom design. Utilize the latest restroom fixtures, such as water-efficient toilets and sinks, touchless flushing and faucets, and automatic soap dispensers to create a hassle-free, hygienic experience for your guests. Install proper ventilation to prevent unpleasant odors from lingering in the washroom, and choose durable, easy-to-clean materials such as stainless steel for sink tops and floors.

Brightly colored walls, exciting art, and good lighting can also add to the ambiance of the washroom. You can choose neutral colors such as white and grey to create a calming atmosphere or opt for warmer tones such as olive green, beige, and brown to add visual interest. Be mindful not to cramp the space to ensure ample room for guests to move without feeling claustrophobic. Making sure that your washroom is ADA-compliant and up-to-date with the latest safety regulations is also vital. 


Restaurants must abide by the legal occupancy limit set by the fire department, which is determined primarily based on the size of the building and exit doors. According to dimensions.com, allow a minimum of 12-15 square feet per person for a full-service restaurant or 18 to 20 square feet per person for a fine dining restaurant with an 18 inches minimum space between occupied chairs. 

To calculate the design occupant load, multiply the room’s length by its width, then divide it by the square footage. Keeping your restaurant’s capacity legal and within guidelines helps ensure customer safety, efficient traffic flow, and a pleasant dining experience. Your staff won’t elbow your guests while they move around, and customers can easily move between tables without feeling cramped. 


The kitchen is the heart of a restaurant—it’s where all the magic happens. A well-designed kitchen prioritizes functionality and practicality with ample storage and space for staff members to move around. The layout should be organized for efficient workflow and easy access to regularly used items. 

Place refrigeration units close to the prep area for easy access, set up open shelves near the stovetops for chefs to grab ingredients quickly, and install enough storage units and shelving to accommodate the extra kitchen equipment.

The design should also consider air circulation, ventilation, and noise control. Install a state-of-the-art ventilation system to reduce the kitchen’s smoke, steam, and odors. Place sound-absorbing materials, such as acoustic tiles, around the kitchen walls to reduce sound levels. Invest in durable kitchen appliances that can withstand high-volume use and look for energy-efficient models to reduce electricity costs. 

Floor plans

The floor plan determines the restaurant’s traffic flow, efficiency, and productivity. It includes the layout of the dining area, kitchen, entrance and exit points, washroom, storage areas, and outdoor spaces. A well-designed floor plan should take into account the size of the building, customer flow, and staff movement. Create a streamlined traffic pattern by placing the dining area close to the kitchen and providing easy access to entrances and exits. 

Group tables, chairs, and booths accordingly for ease of movement around the restaurant. Include enough washrooms and storage areas to accommodate the number of customers you expect. Strategically place the cash register, host stand, and pick-up counter near the entrance, and locate the kitchen close to the dining area for efficient service. 

Entrances and exits

Accessibility, safety, and convenience are critical considerations for entrances and exits. Double-door systems with automatic doors are highly recommended to create a seamless flow of movement for guests and staff members entering or leaving the restaurant. Install wide, well-lit entrances and exits with enough room for guests to enter or exit the building without feeling cramped.

Include additional exits in case of an emergency and use signs to direct guests towards the right doors. Install security cameras outside the entrance and exit points for added safety and use motion-activated lighting to create a secure environment.

Outdoor areas

Incorporating outdoor areas into your restaurant design is an excellent way to use the available space attractively and functionally. Patios, decks, rooftop bars, and sidewalk cafés can add a unique charm to your restaurant while providing guests with an enjoyable dining experience.

Outdoor areas must adhere to local regulations and safety guidelines. Ensure there is adequate seating, lighting, and shelter in case of inclement weather. Choose weather-resistant furniture and decor such as umbrellas, outdoor rugs, and patio sets to make the area inviting. Provide sun protection in sunny climates and install heating systems for colder climates.

Creating a stunning restaurant building design is no easy task. While it’s tempting to tackle the project yourself, hiring an experienced professional ensures that all details are considered, and your design meets the highest possible standards. An expert designer can help you create an aesthetically pleasing, functional restaurant building design that enhances customer experience, increases efficiency, and meets safety regulations.

Consult a professional designer to get started on your restaurant building design today!

RPC General Contractors is a full-service construction company specializing in commercial construction projects, including restaurant building designs. We have extensive experience in restaurant design and construction, from floor plans and seating arrangements to kitchen layouts and outdoor areas. Contact our knowledgeable team today, and let’s help you create a restaurant building design that meets your needs, budget, and standards. 

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