How Much Room Do I Need for a Restaurant?

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Space planning is vital to opening a restaurant. You need to provide adequate space for cooking and food prep as well as seating that leaves your guests feeling comfortable and not cramped. The space needed depends on the restaurant type. Quick service restaurants need less space, for example.

Space planning helps a restaurant operate smoothly. A functional floor plan will naturally move your wait staff from the kitchen to the dining room and your customers from the dining room to the restrooms and coat check. The amount of space needed for a restaurant varies based on the size of the building, yet general guidelines for each functional area exist.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The size of your restaurant will depend on the type of eatery you plan to open. Your floor plan can vary from 1,000 to 6,000 square feet, in most cases.

How To Plan Your Restaurant Space

In general, about 35 to 40 percent of your restaurant space will be dedicated to the kitchen and prep area. About 50 percent of your space will be the actual dining area, and the remainder of the space will be other work areas such as offices and storage. The type of seating you will need in the dining area will influence the square footage you need. Your set-up will also be determined by the type of customers you anticipate. A higher-end restaurant may attract more pairs, while a casual, family-style dining restaurant may have more groups of four or more.

Planning Kitchen Space

A typical restaurant kitchen has several work areas. The pre-prep area, where cooks clean, chop and process food, requires 225 square feet for a medium restaurant. The hot food prep area, which may contain reach-in freezers, grills, fryers, charbroilers and ranges, needs 300 square feet. A baking area, designed to prepare rolls, cakes and pastries, can be separate from the other two areas and requires 166 square feet.

Planning Dining and Bar Space

Space needed for the dining area depends on the type of restaurant, number of guests and seat turnover. A moderate-price restaurant with 100 seats would need 12 to 14 feet per chair, while a fast food restaurant would only need 9 to 11 feet per chair.

Restaurant bar and cocktail lounge space can be estimated based on the size of the dining room. For example, a 750-square-foot restaurant with 50 seats would require a 150-square-foot cocktail lounge with 15 seats, and a 10-foot bar with a work area of 120 square feet. A 2,100-square-foot restaurant with 50 seats would require a 400-square-foot cocktail lounge with 40 seats and a 30-foot bar with a work area of 360 square feet.

Planning Other Work Areas

When planning the size of a restaurant, don't overlook smaller work areas. A small restaurant needs at least 64 square feet to receive and inspect shipments and 100 to 150 square feet to store dry food. A single-machine dish room in a small restaurant requires 175 square feet. Service areas vary by type of restaurant and can run from 100 square feet for table service to 50 square feet for a fast food restaurant. Employee lockers, restrooms and a manager's office require additional space.

Putting It All Together

Every restaurant has different space needs, but some generalizations can be useful in the initial planning stages. In general, a large family restaurant might need up to 6,000 square feet, while a bistro or small diner with a lunch counter could get away with a smaller building of only half that size. Of course, this is only an average figure. Some high-end restaurants across the country get by amazingly well with less than 1,000 square feet.

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About the Author

Robbin McClain has been writing professionally since 1992. She has written about beauty, fashion, health, business and crafts for "American Salon," "Redbook," "Woman's Day" and other publications. McClain holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas.