Restaurant seating is not just about putting customers at tables, it involves much more than that. One of the major problems that may face a restaurant’s manager is to have a successful seating strategy. In this article, you will find your guide to optimize your restaurant seating arrangement to find a balance between increasing revenues and providing the customer with a great experience.
Here are the basic steps to a successful seating strategy:
Calculate the seating capacity of your restaurant:
You should start with measuring all potential seating areas in square footage to find the total area in square feet.
Estimate the number of customers you could seat:
After calculating the seating capacity of your restaurant, it is time to estimate how many customers could comfortably have seats at your restaurant. There are many formulas to do so; here is one of these formulas:
- Fine dining restaurants: 18-20 square feet per customer.
- Full-service restaurants: 12-15 square feet per customer.
- Fast food restaurants: 11 square feet per customer.
Allot a suitable space for paths:
When arranging your restaurant seating, take into consideration the paths your servers will walk through while serving your customers and moving between stations. You should also make sure that these paths are wide and comfortable enough for your customers when going to the restrooms or leaving the restaurants. You could allot at least 2 feet for paths between seats.
Moveable seating is your best choice:
To make any changes in your seating configuration, try buying moveable tables and chairs.
The tables you buy should be:
- Square tables that can seat 2-4 customers.
- Square tables that could be linked together to seat a large number of customers.
Identify your restaurant’s concept:
If you have a fine dining restaurant, then the atmosphere should be calm and providing privacy. However, if you run a casual dining restaurant, the atmosphere should be more socialized.
Make some effort to eliminate undesirable seat in your restaurant:
Most customers prefer to sit near the windows and avoid sitting near the walls or the kitchen. To escape this attitude you may:
- Install a trendy living wall that keeps the noise and sights of the kitchen away from customers.
- Hang up artwork to make a bare wall more beautiful and appealing for customers’ eyes.
Create more space:
Making the most of your available space is not enough. You need to create more space.
Here are some ideas that could work:
- Outdoor seating: studies showed that adding outdoor seats to the restaurant increases its revenue by 33%.
- The basement: try to turn your basement into additional seating space by decorating it to be suitable for customers.
Manage your tables’ turnover rate:
Tables’ turnover rate affect your profit margin directly. So you should carefully manage your tables’ turnover rate by:
- Implementing digital menu: the digital menu will help you get a faster turnover rate and a satisfied customer since the customer wouldn’t wait for servers to take orders or pay a bill. It is all digitalized.
- Do not use too comfortable seats: wooden chairs or trendy reclaimed wood benches are a win-win choice for you and your customer.
Make use of technology:
According to Toast’s 2017 Technology Report, 81% of diners used a restaurant’s website to place an online order. This is a good solution to maximize revenues and escape seating issues.
You may also consider applying online reservation system that organizes your reservations and optimizes your table flow.
Sync your FOH and BOH operations:
You should accommodate your front of house operations with your back of house operations. Don’t accept to have more parties than your kitchen could afford to serve. If you do so you will end up with an angry customer and a kitchen sinks in chaos. Resulting in customers who had a bad experience in your restaurant which will definitely affect your reputation not to mention your profits.
Do your best in your restaurant seating arrangement so that all customers would feel like they got the best seat in the restaurant.