A crucial thing to consider when opening up a restaurant is the seating arrangement. In fact, it’s this decision that will largely shape your restaurant business plan going forward.
And it’s not an easy decision. But others have done it. And you can, too (with maybe just a little help from us).
We have outlined below the various types of common seating arrangements for restaurants and other types of eateries. Plus, a couple of helpful tips on getting it just right and maximising your turnover.
Once you finish reading, you will understand the many seating arrangement options available for you to choose from - and ultimately make a more informed decision.
But before we go on, have a look at the café, restaurant and catering industry stats in Australia:
Image from: Sydney Commercial Kitchen
Looks promising, doesn’t it? Let’s now take a closer look at your restaurant seating arrangement options:
Table of Contents
- Sports Bars
- Coffee Houses
- Pizza Places
- Pubs and Bars
- Movie Theatre Lobbies/Restaurants
- Pop-Up Restaurants
Hotels are one of the many dining options in the accommodation industry, alongside:
- Farm stays;
- Self-contained accommodation;
- Guesthouses and boutique hotels;
- Bed and breakfasts accommodating more than five people.
The honest truth is that the hotel business is very competitive; every day, visitors are becoming savvier when shopping for the best deal.
Therefore, you need to WOW your customers. Every. Single. Day.
One sure-fire way is by creating the perfect ambience: And we have some insider tips for you.
- Choose a perfect location: one that suits your concept and budget, ideally within a busy neighbourhood and easy to access. Also has facilities such as parking and easy access to public transport;
- Get a professional to do your decor and design: you are better off working with an experienced designer who has a portfolio of hospitality projects;
- Plan before doing fits outs and buying equipment: this goes hand-in-hand with your design, cost analysis, and the style of food you are offering;
- Fine dining: features excellent food, elegant decor, and superior service;
- Casual dining: features a relaxed environment and mid-range prices;
- Get stylish yet functional tables and chairs: carefully consider the dimensions, materials and finish;
- Choose your colours wisely: the right colours will generate an inviting environment in your establishment;
- Improve your lighting: it sets the overall mood and atmosphere;
- Get picture-perfect tableware and table linens: that’s how you present your dishes in a tantalising way.
2. Sports Bars
Sports bars are for sports lovers who can, but prefer not to, stay at home all the time in their sweat pants and follow their favourite teams from their couch.
So, you MUST make their experience at your sports bar worthwhile.
One good thing about opening a sports bar is that you’ll never run out of sports to air - major sports leagues’ seasons overlap and together extend all year long.
Keep the following tips in mind as you consider this option:
- Always regulate the sound of your (many) TVs;
- Have at least one screen that’s big (55+ inches) on each wall;
- Get well-presented, smart, and agile servers to wait upon the sports fans;
- Have great food and drink options; lots of beer, both domestic and imported;
- Play music at the appropriate time; during commercial breaks or pre-game shows;
- Arrange your sports bar in a way that patrons can see and hear the game from every spot in the bar.
3. Coffee Houses
Image from: insidesmallbusiness.com.au
Looking at the diagram above, it’s no secret that Australians love coffee. Therefore, opening a coffee house is often a sound idea if you know your coffee.
Assuming you already know your beans, have a great supply of flavoured options, and an excellent coffee shop location, you may wonder what’s next.
Plan your overall look and design, bearing in mind the following tips:
- Make your menu easy to spot and read and have friendly staff attend to customers as quickly as possible;
- Match your accessories and artwork with your brand to match the intended mood; think colours and lighting;
- Plan an efficient service area where your guests walk in through the door and instinctively know where and when to order their favourite coffee;
- Know the brand of your coffee shop and set the mood accordingly by choosing a niche in the market you are going to serve;
- Consider the space you have and the unique features to add such as a fireplace, a bay window, a staging area for musicians, large screen TVs, electrical outlets, and WiFi.
To run a successful drive-through you need to leverage the proper technologies that will meet your customer demands, including:
- Order accuracy;
- Speed of service;
- Customer satisfaction.
All the while positively affecting your bottom line.
Sounds like a tough nut to crack, huh?
Well, there is more to operating a successful drive-through than installing a window on the side of a building.
- Menu options that can be delivered quickly;
- Outdoor digital signage to grab the customers’ attention;
- Certain type of real estate; it has to be a drive-through setting;
- The right technologies to ensure speed of service and customer satisfaction;
- Proper crew training to effectively execute effective, efficient and satisfying customer experience.
And of course, if you offer walk-ins, they need to have somewhere to sit without feeling like second-class citizens to your vehicle-based clientele.
Ensure your dine-in space, while maybe minimal and basic, is still comfortable and not squeezed into some corner with a view of the staff toilet and bin storage. Try to create a nice bench-style seating area outside and even undercover that is far enough away from exhaust fumes to make it a good place to sit.
And make your inside dining space functional and welcoming as you can.
5. Pizza Places
IBIS world did a report on the Pizza restaurants and Takeaway industry in Australia and reported the following:
“Industry revenue is expected to grow by an annualised 2.7% over the five years through 2018-19, to $3.4 billion.”
“Industry revenue is expected to grow by 0.9% in the current year, due to a rise in discretionary incomes.”
Better still, IBIS world went ahead to give the following threats and opportunities based on research:
- Consumers have embraced gourmet and healthier options, despite the associated higher price points;
- Competition among operators has limited growth, forcing traditional pizza shops to compete on price;
- Population growth, especially in the outer suburbs, will open up new markets for pizza franchises.
Based on the data, setting up a pizza place sounds like a good business idea. Now, among the many other thing you will consider is your pizza shop service style.
The service style options are:
- Take ‘n Bake: customers buy pre-made pizzas to bake at home. You’ll need more refrigeration and display cases;
- Dine-in: This the typical pizza restaurant. You require extensive kitchen equipment, furniture, tableware, music, lighting, waiters, and more;
- Delivery: You deliver pizza to customers based on the orders made online or via phone. The customer ultimately pays for the increased cost of delivery;
- Takeout only: Customers can take-out pizza over the counter. The setting is small, you require little staff, no waiters, very little tableware and furniture and less equipment.
The dine-in model is pretty much the only one that requires a lot of planning for seating arrangements, but it’s still important to consider the dining experience for every customer.
Big pizzas can take up a lot of table space and leave little room for plates and drinks, so consider using pizza tray stands that elevate the food and leave room underneath if you can only accommodate small dine-in tables.
6. Pubs and Bars
Do you want to open a pub? Or, a bar?
Draw some inspiration from the 10 oldest pubs in Sydney Australia. And by old, we mean the 19th Century.
And these stats and facts on bars in Australia are also pretty interesting.
Before you open the doors to your pub or bar, make sure that you are ready to overcome the challenges that come with this business:
- Financial pressure;
- Stress on family and friendships;
- Working for very long late/hours;
- Dealing with annoying, rude patrons.
Another thing to consider is how you will seat your patrons. Consider the following seat style options:
Here’s an informative infographic showing you how to choose modern bar stools.
7. Movie Theatre Lobbies / Restaurants
Food and film are two great experiences that go great together.
A movie theatre lobby or restaurant meets the demands of movie fans who want to have a quick bite to eat before or after they catch a movie. Some cinemas offer a dine-in experience as you watch, but that essentially requires purpose-built seats facing the screen with side-table space for meals and drinks.
For the seating arrangement in a theatre lobby, you can aim for casual style seating, such as:
- Long tables and bar stools or even booths that maximise use of space along lobby walls;
- Outside dining options, if the location permits, using either stools and benchtops or small tables and chairs;
- Stand-up options with simple shelves acting as benchtops for patrons to rest their food and drinks.
8. Pop-up Restaurants
Pop-up restaurants, true to their name, are restaurants that “pop up” anywhere, anytime for a limited time. Generally, you’ll rely on social media and word-of-mouth to generate interest.
The beauty of pop-up restaurants is that they’re a fun low-commitment venture for testing the waters and a location’s viability for your style of offering.
To open up a pop-up restaurant, here are key things to prepare.
- Get a location close to your target audience. Ensure it has running water, sufficient dining space, and a good sewage system;
- Create a business plan; it's your roadmap and should contain key sections such as competitive analysis, target menu, and target market;
- Obtain the proper equipment for your kitchen and dining room - you can rent or borrow to save on costs;
- Put together a killer menu that your guests will love;
- Advertise your business through various means;
Restaurant Seat Layout Tips
So far, we’ve given you some useful tips to help you understand the type of seating arrangement you want for your restaurant.
But there’s more...
Remember the following pointers when placing your tables and chairs in your eatery.
Tip #1: Avoid the Wrong Mix
Analyse the reservations at the end of the day. Determine, based on the number and group of guests that visit, the best mix to use. If you have frequent two-person guests, set more twos. It’s a better use of space than sitting them at a four-person table and wasting 50% of the space.
Tip #2: Ensure Guests Have a Good View of their Surroundings
Guests visit restaurants for the food, the people they’re dining with, the view and some social variety. They don’t like feeling secluded. If setting up booths, ensure they’re not too high. Ensure all guests as much as possible get to enjoy their surroundings in a convivial atmosphere.
Tip #3: Ensure Some Tables Have a Form of Anchor
Some guests prefer tables with at least one side anchored. This could be either against a wall or other permanent structure. Especially when they are at a table for two.
Tip #4: Give Your Guests Space
One of the reasons guests dine together is to have intimate conversations. Especially when they choose tables for two. Make sure their seats and tables enable them to enjoy their meal and chat easily without straining to hear themselves or be overheard by everyone else in the room.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Leave That to Us)
Now that you have a clearer understanding (we hope) of the various restaurant seating arrangements, which one would you choose for your venture?
Whatever way you go, there are always more decisions to make. Like tablecloths, napkins, tea towels and so on.
So don’t sweat the small stuff. Just get in touch with Australian Linen Supply for affordable, hotel-quality food and beverage linen and we’ll take care of it for you (so you can keep stressing about the menu), including:
- Thick and thirsty tea towels;
- Crisp table napkins in assorted colours;
- Stain-free and wrinkle resistant tablecloths and overlays.
And that’s it. Good luck!