6 Steps to Help Design Your Restaurant Seating Plan

Step 1: Calculate the square footage of your dining area.
Step 2: Calculate the seating capacity.
Step 3: Determine what size restaurant tables will work best.
Step 4: Determine how many ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) restaurant tables you will need.
Step 5: Layout your table selections on the floor with tape and confirm your choices.
Step 6: Contact Us!
Frequently Asked Questions

From the aspiring restaurant owner to the most established restaurant design companies, each new restaurant design project comes with potential complications that can slow down construction and delay a grand opening. Having stable, high-quality tables is an essential part of your customers’ dining experience regardless of the size or type of restaurant you are opening. Determining the right styles and number of tables for your restaurant floor plan early in the process can help prevent many future headaches.

Step 1: Calculate the square footage of your dining area.

Here is a diagram of a restaurant’s footprint to better illustrate how to calculate square footage. In this restaurant footprint, we have 6 dimensions that will yield your total restaurant square footage available as dining space. Below are the calculations:

15’x20’ =  300 s.f.
30’x60’ = 1800 s.f.
10’x30’ = 300 s.f.
For a total of 300+1,800+300 = 2,400 s.f.

Step 2: Calculate the seating capacity.

As a general rule of thumb to calculate seating capacity, the least amount of people that you will fit is 1 person for every 18 ft² of dining space. Typically, the most you will fit is 1 person for every 10 ft² of dining space.

You should only proceed with the next steps with the help of an architect or similar professional to help you plan out the dining space and its projected traffic flow. In our example, we have determined there to be 2,400 ft² of usable floor space, so the following math will show how to calculate the potential number of seated people for that space:

Minimum dining capacity: 2,400 ft² / 18 ft² = 133 people

Maximum dining capacity: 2,400 ft² / 10 ft² = 240 people

From here, we see that using much smaller tables and keeping spacious traffic areas, you’ll be able to fit up to 133 people. With large banquet style seating, you could potentially fit up to 240 people.

Solid wood restaurant tables, restaurant designThe seating guidelines that we recommend for all types of restaurants are:

Counter Service Restaurant or Fine Dining: 1 person for every 18-20 square feet

Full Service Restaurant or Commercial Cafeteria: 1 person for every 15-18 square feet

Commercial Cafeteria: 1 person for every 12-15 square feet

School Lunch Room, Fast Food or Banquet Room: 1 person for every 10-11 square feet

Step 3: Determine what size restaurant tables will work best.

The industry standard for adequate restaurant table room is 300 square inches of dining space per person or 24 to 30 inches of table edge per person.

To go beyond the standard measurements, there are a lot of factors involved in deciding which table top sizes will work best. Here are some general questions to consider when making that decision:

How large are your restaurant’s plates?

Will there be utensils on both sides of the plates?

Is it a family-style dining experience?

How long do you want your patrons to stay?

Will you be hosting larger events?

Ultimately, the atmosphere you want to create, your menu, and the way you serve your customers will dictate the amount of table top space you want to provide for your customers. Below is a diagram to help you visualize how many people can be seated at the most common sizes of restaurant tables. Our team at Timeworn can craft tables of nearly any size for any type of restaurant. We would be happy to help you determine which tables are right for your space.

Restaurant Table Tops, Solid Wood Restaurant Tables

Step 4: Determine how many ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) restaurant tables you will need.

When your restaurant or bar has 20 tables or more, it is required that 5% of the total number of seats in your restaurant be ADA accessible. If your restaurant or bar has less than 20 tables, you need exactly one table to be ADA accessible. If your location has an outdoor dining area, those seats must be included in your calculations.

You should check with your local building inspector to make sure there are no additional state requirements that could add to the required number of ADA accessible restaurant table tops in your restaurant floor plan. In California, for example, you are required to have a minimum of 1 ADA restaurant table or more for each type of seating. So, if your restaurant has 10 booths, 1 must be ADA compliant; or if you have 5 large community tables, 1 must be ADA compliant. If you’d like to learn more about ADA accessibility in your restaurant, check out our blog on ADA restaurant tables.

Step 5: Layout your table selections on the floor with tape and confirm your choices.

If you own an existing restaurant or are making minor adjustments to the layout of your restaurant tables, confirming your table selections can be as easy as putting tape on the floor and using a tape measure to ensure you’ve accounted for enough space between tables. If your restaurant is new, we highly recommend that you have your architect or designer draw in your restaurant table selections in your floor plan so you can clearly see how traffic will flow. Although we do not provide a restaurant design service at this time, we at Timeworn are willing to review your floor plan and make any suggestions we see that could improve your layout’s functionality.

Step 6: Contact Us!

At this point you are ready to reach out to Timeworn to request samples of our restaurant tabletops and receive a quote!

Frequently Asked Questions

Restaurant owners starting to design their locations will inevitably have a lot of questions. Our team here at Timeworn is dedicated to helping restaurant owners navigate any questions that arise to find the best solid wood tabletop solutions for their restaurant. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions we receive regarding restaurant layouts and tabletop selections:

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Does the type of restaurant change the number of wood tabletops needed?

Definitely. Fine dining restaurants will typically need more spacious solid wood restaurant tabletops for the additional dinnerware, glassware, etc. Their customers generally eat in groups and can be seated for an hour or more, so they must feel comfortable. For these reasons, it’s much more common to use larger restaurant table tops in fine dining establishments.

In comparison, fast dining restaurants will typically use smaller table tops. These types of restaurants generally require less table space because clients are more likely to eat in smaller groups or alone. In addition, these restaurants typically do not have servers which means there is less room needed between tables.

How much space should be between tables in a restaurant?

For restaurants with servers, maintain 38 – 48 inches between seat backs (pushed in) to allow enough room for servers to move around safely.

What are the pros and cons of a few larger tables vs. a lot of smaller tables?

Having a few large tables is more practical for restaurants that typically host larger groups, as employees don’t have to frequently move tables to accommodate. Also, a larger table provides one continuous plane that is more stable.

Conversely, smaller table tops are easily moved and provide more versatility. However, this could result in unevenness between the different table tops and constantly moving them risks scratching the floor. Depending on the table bases and the flooring type, shorter table tops could become unstable when moved frequently.

Restaurant Tables, Restaurant Table Tops

What are the pros and cons of adjustable table sizes?

The growing trend in solid wood restaurant tabletops is the use of flip-up leaves, which are simple additions that make it possible to quickly expand the number of seats available at a table. For example, a square 36”x36” table top that seats four can be expanded to a 51” round table top that seats six.

One downside of flip-up leaves is that they add a considerable amount of weight to the table top, making them more difficult to move. Flip-up or convertible tables also come at a 50% increase in cost so they should be used only sparingly if your project is budget conscience.

Should I get square or round table tops for my restaurant?

Always keep in mind that square restaurant tables can be combined and stored very easily if needed. It’s not possible to combine round restaurant tables for additional seating. To see some great examples of restaurant design and layout, checkout our gallery.

timeworn logo 2019Still have questions about the right table tops for your restaurant?

Give us a call. We’ve helped hundreds of restaurant owners and design firms find the right amount and styles of restaurant tables for their project and we’re eager to help you with your next project!