Restaurant Design | The Design Process

Part Two of the discussion looking at considerations for good restaurant planning focuses on developing a solid building program as a foundation for the design process. The owner and design consultant should step through to carefully plan and consider all the programmatic functional elements to be integrated for a successful restaurant. There are numerous factors that will influence how the design of a proposed restaurant will evolve to its final built form.

Most restaurant projects will be designed and fitted for an existing space.  The building space may be a “vanilla” box or the space may need to be renovated from a previous use.  On the other hand, a restaurant project may be a stand alone building on its own property.  The strategic step is to understand and program the space requirements for the proposed restaurant, whether it is a new stand alone building, tenant finish for a “vanilla” box or a renovation of an existing building from a prior use.

The major programmatic restaurant spaces to be defined may include, but not limited to:

  • Entry and Waiting Area
  • Dining Room
  • Bar or Lounge
  • Walk-up Service or Take Out Counter
  • Restrooms (ADA compliant)
  • Hostess and Wait Stations
  • Ample Aisle and Circulation Space
  • Dry and Refrigerated Storage
  • Office and Employee Amenities

The arrangement of these spaces relies on a strong understanding of the building program that you develop with the owner. There are some simple relationships of restaurant spaces that can be universal for good design, for example:

  • Clear Circulation allowing for a natural flow
  • Patron Entry and Waiting Area are adjacent to the Dining and Lounge
  • Walk-up Service is provided,  locate Take Out Counter near main lobby, but not to create a conflict between the dine in customers waiting and take out customers.
  • Core of Restrooms (ADA compliant) and Kitchen  to centralize plumbing
  • Back of House functions may cluster around the service entry
  • The Kitchen is often the hub of the activity
  • Separate customer / patron circulation from employee / staff circulation

Various factors will influence the design. The relationships need to be flexible and planned accordingly to best integrate with the existing building space or site. The owner may have a vision for an arrangement of the elements which can be reflected in the design.  There are always influences upon these basic programmatic relationships which will need to be addressed.  The task is to review early on these factors during the building programming work sessions phase.

Potential influences upon the Building Program and Restaurant Design:

  • Site  and Building Orientation
  • Access to roads and public circulation
  • Delivery Access
  • Views and Visibility – Visual Opportunities
  • Location of existing building systems (Mechanical, electrical & plumbing)
  • “Curb appeal” for highest visual marketability of the Restaurant
  • Specific preparation process for the kitchen to achieve the cuisine (i.e. visible and open cooking areas)
  • Level of privacy desired for the dining areas  (Cozy and intimate, or more communal and open)

From the start, the restaurant concept should be identified early on along side the vision for the culinary menu – Menu and Concept should be paired.  This will reinforce the direction and decisions to make the building programmatic requirements clearly understood.  With a well defined building program, the design process can be logically guided to achieve the restaurant design the owner is seeking.

– Robin Adams

For more information on how ArcWest can assist you, contact us directly at 303.455.7741 or through our website.

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