Posted by Patrick Maness
The foodservice business would be far simpler if you only had to focus your energy on making a delicious meal. Simpler, yes, but if the food you served and prepared were the sole criteria of success, it would be a far less dynamic and exciting industry.
What many don’t realize is that the food business is also a design business, and a successful design is a combination of aesthetics and functionality. From the first impression a guest has to how comfortable they feel while sitting, the overall layout and design of your dining room can have an enormous effect on the guest’s experience. It can even influence how the meal tastes.
Your goals will differ depending on what kind of operation you’re running. Restaurant owners, for example, need a functional layout more than they need something stylish. That's because running a restaurant can be like a game, one in which the goal is to get everyone seated and served while negotiating your way around the curve balls that come in the form of large parties or other surprises.
How well your staff is able to handle this is largely dependent on how your dining room is set up. The ability of the staff to move between tables as well as move the tables themselves, plus seat a variety of party sizes and efficiently attend to all the guests, greatly influences how successful your business can be.
As important as this blueprint is, the true creative challenge comes when you begin to add to it.
When choosing tables and chairs for your restaurant as opposed to, say, your house, it's important that they are able to withstand more wear and tear in addition to being easy to wipe down and clean.
When brainstorming about the shape of the furniture, keep in mind the menu. Small round tables may add intimacy, but if your entrées come on multiple plates, those tiny tables might not work well. Also, you’ll want to strategize on how many tables can be easily moved and combined, not to mention how many booths or anchored tables and seats you want.
These are just a few examples of how, first and foremost, style needs to give way to more practical demands. After all, a functional layout will lend itself to a great guest experience. While you and your designer are deciding on a style, make sure your decisions are grounded by practical considerations.
The creative plunge
There are a thousand and one other considerations to take into account. Where to put the wait station? How big of a bar do you want? Then, of course, there is the question of the desired atmosphere. Here we are peering into matters of design and artistic preferences, which are as individual and unique as the items you choose to serve on your menu.
To help inspire you, this blog series will take a look at some practical ways you can create a great experience for customers in the dining room. Our topics will include:
Make waiting part of the experience
Waiting for your table is almost universally seen as a hassle, an inconvenience. In many ways, it’s a Catch-22. If people are waiting, you’re running a successful operation. But on the other hand, a long wait discourages people from visiting and may hurt business in the long run. We’ll take a look at some traditional and unique ideas (in restaurant design or in other ways) to keep customers happy while waiting for a table or for their food.
Table and seating ideas to optimize your space
We’ve already covered some of the basic ideas behind a successful layout. In this blog, we’ll take it further and apply these general principles to specific businesses. We’ll consider what kind of layout plans are best for each business, and how a proper layout design can help accommodate large parties and more.
Table service in unexpected places
With fast-food restaurants like McDonalds and KFC trying out table service, it’s clear that a key to attracting and retaining customers is by having great table service. In this blog we’ll look at how your business can up its table-service game and why it’s all about improving customer satisfaction.
Everyone loves patios and you should do
Just like everyone wants to go to a restaurant with a patio, every restaurateur wants a patio of his or her own. We’ll take a look at the challenges and benefits of adding patio seating, furniture and space considerations when upgrading your patio, as well as the benefits of adding a bar on the patio.
Whether you’re a restaurateur, catering banquets, or you work for a commercial or school cafeteria, these blogs will be a primer on one of the most important, though largely unnoticed, features of the dining experience.