Building a restaurant or a cafe is always more than the meal, the service, and the experience. In fact, I believe these three components are too broad to be explained in one sitting. It has a lot of components that we later transform into a checklist that you can fulfil step by step:
✅ The Brand as the Restaurant's Theme
When you channel your brand as your restaurant theme, you start giving your business and identity. It puts distinction on your place until it becomes your competitive advantage. Architects and designers deliver messages using design. Your brand’s promise to your customers is actually a designers’ parti or their source of inspiration.
✅ Exterior and Entrance that throws a great first and last impression
A good entrance is important because it sets the flow of the restaurant. From the front door, the guests must be able to see their seat and everything nice in your resto. Make sure that it still looks great, even when the house is full.
✅ Well divided and schematic floor plan
Basically, a small cafe or restaurant measures smaller than 1500 sq.ft. so strategically dividing the floor plan is a must. Please give priority to the manager’s office and staff rooms. These areas necessary but don’t need to be big. Maximise the remaining space for areas such as the kitchen, dining area, food storage, and restrooms. Aside from that, make sure that the areas are arranged in an ergonomic manner. For example, the locker room of the staff must be a short trip to and from the kitchen and the head’s office.
✅ Balanced Seating Capacity
Have you noticed that fast food chains prioritise a bigger seating capacity and fine dining restaurants focus on interior design and ambience? For you, it must be a balance of both. Don’t worry, because the right design ensures that you heap customers while ensuring their comfort.
Know when to go for tables or booths
The seats you choose must address the number of customers you're targeting to serve in a day. It also depends largely on the size of your dining area. As a business person, we want to make sure that we're making the most out of what we have, right? The good thing is there's a myriad of chairs and tables in the market you can choose from. Skout for pieces that are comfy and fitting to your restaurant's theme. I suggest you go for bargained pieces so you can save bucks for future use.
Have a solution to commonly dodged seats
Sometimes, diners refuse to seat on tables near the restroom, kitchen door, or the front entrance. Give special attention to these areas. You can use screens, dividers, or tall plants to hide the unwanted view of that seat.
To be honest, there are some customers who refuse to be seated in areas sandwiched by other tables. Use sleeker chairs in these areas. Through this, you're able to provide space for more patrons.
The best thing to do is to sit on every chair and assess what you can see. If you see an eyesore or something unlikely for a customer, do something about it.
✅ A kitchen large enough to accomplish the daily grind
A kitchen is a busy place. You have to provide a spacious kitchen where your staff can move comfortably and safely. In planning the kitchen, it is important to put the equipment and food storage areas near the workstation. You should also make room to fit massive stoves, ovens, broilers, fryers, dishwashers, and sinks. A lot of shelf space will come in handy too.
✅ A Friendly Counter or Bar
Small restaurants and cafes have counters where people line up to order. The trend is to build a hip looking counter, with a creative presentation of the menu. Sometimes, the counter has its own stand-alone bar. This is for solo customers, so they don’t sit on areas meant for groups. Of course, your patrons should experience great customer service here.
✅ Great, Ambient Lighting
Lighting is a major element of design. It entices the mood of a person. For example, candles give a romantic vibe, reddish lighting makes us hungry, low lighting helps us relax. Choose a lighting that matches the aura of your restaurant. But, always install task lighting in the kitchen because your staff will need that to work.
✅ Fusion of Acoustic and Aromatic elements
It is right to engage all the senses of your customers while they’re in your restaurant. Take advantage of the music. Have an expert position the sound system, in such a way that you produce a surround sound. Through this, you avoid any form of irritability from a sound. Music also attracts passersby to come check your resto.
Aside from music, the lovely smell of cooking food is desirable. It stimulates them to eat! However, you must watch out for pollution wherein there’s a mixture of aroma you hardly appreciate.
✅ A Squeaky Clean Bathroom
I believe that the restroom reflects the kitchen. Contrary to popular belief, the restroom isn’t the most underrated part of the restaurant. It’s expensive to built and requires regular maintenance. In fact, simple bathroom designs make bathrooms appear cleaner. It’s also easy to see the areas which need cleaning.
✅ Engaging with Little Design Details
I’m talking about the quirky stuff that improves people’s dining experience. It’s the table decorations, the patterns on the wall, or the unusual looking utensils the restaurant offers. Personally, I remember restaurants with good food and appealing interiors because I also pay for the experience of eating outside.
Surprise! Yes! Parking space is important. This depends mainly on how big your dining area and how fast is your service. In a fine dining restaurant, the more guests you can accommodate, the larger your parking space should be. It becomes a different story when you're building a diner or a fast food brand.
Personally, I think all these elements aren't your priority when you go to a restaurant. But, these things enhance your eating experience. It adds to the memories and the conversations that happen with it.
This is the role of architects and designers. They enhance the drama for you, so you can focus on the things that you do best: managing the business and sharing your food with the community.