Opening your very own restaurant is an exciting venture, especially if you personally have a passion for cooking or serving food. Before launching your restaurant and hosting an opening night celebration, choosing the right seating and furniture arrangement is essential. Without the right interior aesthetic and appeal, you run the risk of turning away prospective patrons or providing a less-than-satisfactory experience to guests who choose to dine with you. Preparing your restaurant with proper furniture and decor is a way to improve the experience of diners while providing your restaurant with a look and feel that is unforgettable.
Consider Your Target Customers
Setting up a successful restaurant requires more than the desire and ability to serve high-quality dishes and beverages. Understanding your customer is one of the key elements to keep in mind when launching a new restaurant. Consider your target customers along with their wants and needs. Determine the age range, gender, and location of prospective customers you want to reach.
What type of food do your customers enjoy most? Are they looking for a restaurant that serves the latest fusion food or do they prefer homemade comfort food? Do your customers prefer a specific cuisine or are they looking for a location with a mixed collection of menu items? How will your customers arrive at your location? Is there public transportation nearby or do you have a designated parking lot available for customers who drive? Is your restaurant located in a rural or urban setting?
How Long Will Customers Dine at Your Establishment?
Having a general idea of how long your customers are likely to dine at your establishment is an important factor to keep in mind throughout the planning process. If you are a restaurant that serves quick meals, patrons are likely to spend anywhere from 20 minutes to under an hour before leaving the location. If you offer a more extensive and exclusive menu along with wine pairings, expect customers to remain at your establishment between an hour to three hours (depending on the setting and atmosphere you create).
What Type of Aesthetic Does Your Restaurant Have?
Settling on the right aesthetic for your restaurant is a major decision, especially if you enjoy interior decorating and providing a pleasing atmosphere for guests. Brainstorm the type of aesthetic and atmosphere you want to create. Browse restaurant magazines and social media platforms such as Pinterest to discover design inspiration and to gather ideas before you begin putting a plan in place.
Are you going for a dark and moody upscale look? Do you want to implement a retro theme for a small-town diner you are opening? Is it important to blend multiple themes and looks into your location? Do you want to showcase furniture and decor that mesh well with the cuisine you serve?
Is Your Menu Themed or Dedicated to a Specific Cuisine?
Crafting your menu is one of the biggest challenges restaurant owners face when opening their very first establishment. Developing a menu requires a complete understanding of the food that is being served along with the customers who choose to visit and dine in. While crafting your menu, determine what type of cuisine you want to feature or if you prefer to offer a variety of options based on your target audience. Once you know the food you plan to serve, choosing seating and decor is much easier and less daunting.
Do You Want a Lounge or Waiting Area?
Implementing a lounge or waiting area for guests who are interested in dining with you is one way to avoid missing out on opportunities while maximising the comfort your restaurant offers. If you plan to create a lounge area, consider the space you have available before choosing the most suitable seating options.
How many guests do you plan to host in your waiting area? What is the estimated time frame each guest will have to wait before they are seated at their own table? What additional features or decor do you plan to utilise in your waiting area to make patrons comfortable and willing to wait for a table or booth? How do you plan to inform guests that their table is prepared and ready to seat them?
If you are building an upscale restaurant, consider wall booth seating or an eclectic mix of standard dining chairs and comfortable recliners to host your guests. Wooden wall seating and benches are optimal if you have an outdoor section, beer garden or if you are not a formal dining establishment. If your space is small, skip seating for your waiting and lounge area altogether if you are not appealing to elderly guests.
Is There a Bar Available in Your Restaurant?
Adding a bar to your restaurant is a great way to attract another type of customers, especially if you offer a wide range of drink selections. If you have obtained a liquor license for your restaurant, consider opening a full bar complete with seating. Attracting single patrons and those simply out for drinks is another way to generate sales while boosting the popularity of your location.
If you plan to implement a bar into your establishment, consider the actual bar itself and the material you prefer before shopping for seating. Do you intend to use standard bar stools or do you want to mix and match the seating you offer for patrons at your bar? How high is the bar you plan to build or purchase? Is your bar easily accessible for disabled or elderly patrons who visit your restaurant?
How many seats do you intend to provide at the bar? How long do you expect patrons to stay if they are only ordering drinks or traditional bar foods? Will you be showing television events such as football games or elections? If so, how do you plan to keep guests entertained while providing enough seating near the bar area?
Consider the Desired Layout for Your Restaurant
Once you have an understanding of the type of restaurant you plan to run, settling on a layout style is essential. Consider the desired layout you have in mind for your restaurant along with the available space you have to put to use. Do not forget to account for the kitchen area of your restaurant as well as the lounge and bar sections if you want to provide them for your customers.
Draw up blueprints that provide you with a visual representation of your restaurant. Include measurements such as the amount of space you have for each section you intend to serve. Consider the amount of walking space you want to provide to patrons and your wait staff.
Leave Space Between Tables
Leave space between each of the tables you plan to place in your restaurant to provide maximum comfort to your guests. When tables are too crammed together, they can cause guests to feel suffocated or uncomfortable, especially for patrons who are seeking a quiet and peaceful location to eat their meal. The only type of tables that should be within close proximity include booths. For additional privacy with booth seating, consider booths with high back walls that help to block outside sounds and views.
Use a Portable Service Station
Use a portable waiting station to avoid feeling stuck with the current layout of your restaurant at any time. Portable service stations are great if you have plans to host large gatherings or events at your establishment or if you are overrun with a myriad of unexpected guests at any given time. Portable wait stations are also optimal if you have more than one entrance location in your restaurant and you are unsure of which area will receive the most foot traffic. Additionally, owning a portable wait station is ideal when you want to provide your patrons with the opportunity to rent out your restaurant for private catering and events, offering more space and a less cluttered atmosphere.
Which Seating Types Are Best for Your Guests?
When you are confident with the layout you want for your restaurant and you have settled on a theme or aesthetic to implement it is time to purchase the appropriate tables and seating. Purchasing tables and seating that are in uniform and all the same is ideal if your restaurant does not have a particular theme or unique atmosphere. When you are interested in creating an establishment that stands out from your competition, consider an eclectic look with unique, handmade, and rare pieces of furniture.
Once you begin shopping for tables for your guests, keep these tips in mind:
- Table height: If table height varies, your chairs must too. Search for tables that are suitable for the type of seating you have in mind or have already purchased.
- Material: Plastic, granite, or marble tables are often easier to clean, but offer a more corporate and uninspiring look. Wooden, handmade, or glass tables are not as easy to keep clean but lend a hand to restaurants with a designated theme.
- Covers and Tablecloths: Consider the type of place-mats or settings you intend to use with each style of table you purchase.
- Size: You will likely need more than one size when shopping for tables. Consider the number of guests you plan to seat at each table as well as the ideal location for the table in your restaurant’s current layout and setup.
Once you have chosen the tables that are right for your restaurant, begin shopping for the seating that is right for you. Some factors to keep in mind once you begin shopping for your restaurant’s seating include:
- Style: Do you want comfortable dining chairs or standard diner-style chairs? Are you searching for chairs with a specific theme to match your restaurant’s featured cuisine?
- Size: Are the chairs you want adjustable or the right height for your selected tables? Are they comfortable for patrons of any height and size?
- Durability: Are you purchasing your chairs brand new or are they handmade and created with outdated material? Are the chairs sturdy and durable enough to fit patrons of any size?
- Colours and Patterns: Do the colours of your chairs matter to you? Do you want your chairs to blend with your tables or the decor you want to implement throughout your restaurant? What type of pattern is right for your establishment’s aesthetic and atmosphere? Is a busy pattern too much for the type of restaurant you are opening? Are you open to mixing and matching patterns on each individual chair you provide?
- Material: Does the material of your seating impact the overall atmosphere of your restaurant? Are you planning to streamline all of your chairs and booths with the same material? Do you want to offer wooden seating or seats with cushions and built-in fabric? Are the chairs and booths you prefer easy to clean when necessary?
Seating and Lighting Go Hand-in-Hand
While shopping for your restaurant’s seating it is important to keep the lighting you plan to install in mind. Lighting and seating both go hand-in-hand, especially in restaurants where patrons are expected to dine in. When selecting the lighting that is right for your establishing, consider the theme and aesthetic you are going for while comparing both lights and seating together.
Is it important to you to have adjustable recessed lighting, or are you more privy to standard lamps and hanging bulbs? Do you want a mix of lighting types scattered throughout your restaurant or just one style? Will lamps be available on all tables and within each booth? Are you open to using candlelight in various sections of your restaurant? If so, do you require alternative seating arrangements?
Using Dividers to Your Advantage
Dividers are a great tool to use when decorating a restaurant of any kind. Use dividers in between different sections of your restaurant or even between booths that are closely connected with one another. Dividers are optimal solutions when you want to offer more privacy to specific sections of seating in your establishment. Use dividers to separate bar patrons from those who are dining with their significant other, or to create a lounge that is not part of your main dining area.
Spend Time Dining in Each Seat
One of the best ways to gain valuable insight into your restaurant’s atmosphere is to spend time in it yourself. Sit and dine in each one of the seating areas you offer in your restaurant to learn more about the views prospective patrons may have once they dine with you. Jot down the pros and cons of each section you currently offer along with ways to fix and improve the space before your opening night. Have friends, family members, and even employees help with providing valuable criticism and feedback to ensure your opening night goes as smoothly as possible.
Consider the Volume in Each Section of Your Restaurant
While you are testing the seating in each individual section of your restaurant, consider the volume and the amount of noise that is audible. If you have a speaker system installed throughout your restaurant, play music at your desired levels while dining to gain a full perspective of how your customers are likely to feel.
Ask friends, family members, and co-workers to dine in various sections throughout the restaurant while enjoying themselves and carrying on with casual conversations. Gauge the volume in each section of your restaurant to determine whether or not your current seating arrangement, dividers, and tables are in their optimal positions. If you find your restaurant unreasonably noisy, consider installing additional dividers or eliminating a few tables to make more space between each. Adding more booth seating is another way to cut down on outside noise while providing our customers with more privacy during their dining experience.
Choose Fitting Window Coverings
Choosing the appropriate window coverings for your restaurant is equally as important as selecting seating and other dining furniture. If your restaurant faces the sun throughout the day, install shades and window tints to keep hot air and glares from ruining your patrons’ dining experiences. Invest in shades that are easy to open and close while also providing options for patrons who prefer to leave them open while eating. Consider other patrons who are not sitting next to a window when choosing the blinds or window coverings that are optimal for your restaurant.
With the right furniture, seating arrangement, and atmosphere, create a restaurant that is loved by everyone and forgotten by no one. Taking the time to choose proper seating and furniture for your new restaurant is one of the most important elements to factor in while launching your new venture. Once you are confident in your restaurant’s environment and atmosphere, host your opening night while allowing your guests to make new memories that are sure to last a lifetime.