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6 Mistakes To Avoid When Designing a Restaurant Space

February 09, 2022  |  Foodservice Design

Restaurant design mistakes to avoid

You have your venue picked out, your concept, and your menu planned. All you need now is to design your restaurant space and bring your vision to life. With everything else out of the way, how hard could this possibly be? As it turns out, designing a restaurant is more complicated than it seems. Here are the top six mistakes to avoid in your venue:

1. Treating a restaurant kitchen as a home kitchen.

Home kitchens have a layout that works for one person making one or two dishes at a time. This isn't the case for a restaurant. Restaurant kitchens are fast-paced, with multiple employees working in concert on a variety of tasks at once. Your layout needs to make sense for your workflow, and your workflow will, in part, be dictated by your menu. A creperie will have completely different needs when compared to an Italian bistro, for example. Some places may even benefit from modular equipment that can be moved around as needed.

This aspect of restaurant design is highly detailed, specific, and variable. Getting this part wrong can result in wasted food, broken dishes, interruptions, and possibly even injuries.

2. Misjudging ventilation needs.

Ventilation is vitally important. It's not just necessary for drawing smells out of the kitchen but also dealing with aerosolized grease, smoke, and steam. Poorly-planned ventilation can increase the risk of fire, smoke, and dangerously high heat. If your restaurant smells like old food, oil, and smoke, it'll dramatically reduce your customer appeal.

Unfortunately, vents and ductwork are often viewed as ugly. Many first-time designers try to minimize their presence, leading to insufficient ventilation. There's a very careful balance between form and function here. If you get it wrong, fixing the problem can be time-consuming, expensive, and result in a lot of downtime.

3. Thinking like a designer and not an employee.

The layouts and designs that look the nicest often aren't the ones that work the best. A restaurant might look good, but be a nightmare when it comes to employee and guest safety and efficiency. Clunky table configurations, cluttered wait stations, crowded bar areas, and inefficient floor plans increase wait times, raise the risk of slips, falls, wasted dishes, and injuries. Again, there's a careful balance to strike here — you want to have sufficient seating, but also have aisles and layouts that let guests and waitstaff move quickly, easily, and safely.

If you select your layout without taking these things into consideration, you might waste money on the wrong size, shape, or number of seats and tables.

4. Forgetting delivery areas.

It's easy to get caught up in the fun, exciting aspects of restaurant design. Choosing furnishings and decor is a lot more interesting than planning around a loading dock, but your delivery areas are just as important as your front of house.

Picture it: It's the middle of the afternoon, and your restaurant is packed. If a delivery company comes, where are they going to go? If they don't have a safe, easily accessible area to drop things off, they're going to end up having to carry supplies through your front door — and right through your crowded dining room.

Ideally, deliveries should be able to come and go quickly, easily, and unobtrusively. Your guests should never even notice when a delivery crew arrives or departs.

5. Not accounting for noise pollution.

There's an entire field of architecture that deals with shaping, enhancing, or stifling noise. For the average layperson, this can be extremely challenging — especially when you're starting from an empty room. Kitchens and dining rooms are noisy places. Kitchen noise can be unpleasant for guests, and sounds from the dining room can be distracting for employees. When you're planning your space, it's important to remember just how noisy these areas can get and plan accordingly.

6. Forgetting the exterior.

When designing a restaurant, it's easy to accidentally confine yourself to the front and back of house. In reality, your establishment's presence extends far beyond the walls around you. You want to make sure that any exterior dining areas are as efficiently laid out as your interior, and that your design concept carries through. You'll also want to ensure that your signage is clear, bright, and legible, and your parking areas are safe and clearly marked. This isn't just for convenience's sake, either. Your parking areas are going to be used by your guests, employees, and delivery crews alike, and keeping things clear is just as much a question of safety as convenience.

Your parking area is likely to be for more than just parking, too. It's probably going to be an extension of your delivery area, and where your trash receptacles are kept. Keep this in mind while you're planning your delivery area and kitchen layout — you probably don't want employees carrying bags of trash or empty boxes right past the busiest area of your kitchen every day.

These mistakes aren't just inconvenient, they can make or break your workflow. Unfortunately, once your layout and design are in place, fixing them can be expensive. ChefVue is an efficient, inexpensive way to create a design that will work for you, your venue, and your menu. Don't let this happen to you and your staff — consult ChefVue to make sure you get things done right the first time.

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