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Successful Restaurant Construction Project

Important Design Factors For A Successful Restaurant Construction Project

The United States has about 660,000 restaurants, and over 10,000 new ones open each year. Restaurant diners now spend more than 15% of their average household budget on meals bought outside the home.

Clearly, there is a lot of competition in the restaurant industry, even though it seems more and more people are choosing to eat out rather than at home. If you are a restaurant owner, you must do everything you can to entice people to choose your restaurant over other options.

Besides the quality of the food, the main reason people are willing to go out of their way to eat at a particular restaurant is the restaurant’s ability to make its guests feel special. This, of course, means creating a memorable culinary experience, but it also means creating a comfortable and unique atmosphere.

Creating the Layout of a Thriving Restaurant

When people enter your restaurant, how do you want them to feel? The physical surroundings and the decorative details of a diner, café, bar, or restaurant work together to create the overall atmosphere of the space. In this wildly competitive industry, most restaurant owners understand that good design is key to setting their restaurant apart. Plus, the components of a well-designed restaurant never go unnoticed by its customers.

People may not be able to pinpoint specifics, but anyone can tell you that a meal just tastes better in attractive surroundings.

At Corporeal Visions, we are experts at designing and constructing restaurants. From renovating restaurants that need an update to building brand new structures, we will be the best partners in your new restaurant journey.

In this post, our in-house restaurant design experts will share their vast industry knowledge regarding the design and build of a successful restaurant.

Entry Way

Your entryway should be designed to make an excellent first impression. Beyond the color scheme and construction materials, you will also want to consider the entry layout. If your restaurant is intimate and cozy, have your general contractor build a divider wall to hide the dining areas and create a bit of mystery. If your plans include an open kitchen or a lively bar, make sure it is clearly visible from the host station or waiting area to show off the excitement.

Some restaurant builders have done away with waiting rooms and reception areas as a way to save space and money, but many still use them for a variety of purposes:

  • Guests waiting for a table sit/stand here.
  • Cash register and hostess station are located here.
  • Wines or prepared desserts are displayed here.
  • Raw foods are displayed, usually in glass cases (e.g., lobsters in a bubbling tank, fresh pasta or meats, whole salmon on ice).
  • Menus and daily specials are displayed here.

Whether it is a fast-food eatery or an elegant fine dining restaurant, the waiting area should be pristine, suitably lit, and temperature-controlled to maximize guests’ comfort.

Dining Area

The successful layout of a dining area depends on balancing several components: efficiency of service, safety of guests and employees, and aesthetics. An inexperienced restaurant owner or a subpar construction management company may believe that the cost per square foot and the potential revenue generated by each seat is the most important consideration. But this is not necessarily true.

The driving factor is not really filling an empty space with as many tables as possible. Rather, the goal is to achieve a balance between bottom-line profit and customer comfort, in a style that best suits the restaurant’s image and concept. 

Types of Seating

Whenever possible, give your customers a choice of where they want to sit: table or booth, inside or outdoor patio, bar area or main floor, community seating or a private table, and so on.

As for the furnishings, the most popular types of seating include booths, stools, chairs, and banquettes. Booths offer a feeling of intimacy or privacy, and chairs and tables are more flexible since they can be moved around as needed. A banquette is a bench seating or fixed seating area that usually runs along a wall with multiple tables in front of it.

Generally speaking, it is best to design a dining area with a mixture of seat and table styles for maximum flexibility.  Also, think about the ability to accommodate both small and large groups at a moment’s notice. There must be clearly defined aisles and tables not too far from the kitchen as these factors impact safety as well as the speed of service. 

The more upscale a restaurant is, the more elbow room you will want to allocate for each customer. A fine dining restaurant should have 15 to 18 square feet of free space per guest; a banquet-style setting can do fine with 10 sq. ft. per guest; and 12 sq. ft. per guest is good for a moderately-priced restaurant.


The kitchen is the heart of every establishment that serves food. Its placement in the building affects the quality of the food, the workload of the servers and kitchen employees, and even the number of guests who can dine at any time of day. A poorly designed kitchen will make service and food preparation more difficult, undermining the staff morale.

Aisle Space

The aisle space should be sufficiently wide so the employees don’t have to struggle to work comfortably. In addition to foot traffic, there will be rolling kitchen equipment and carts moving around. If you have limited space, make some of the narrow aisles into a one-way. Generally speaking, the aisles should be at least 36 inches wide – even wider for mobile cart traffic or two-way traffic. 

Traffic and Product Flow

When planning the kitchen design, you have to consider two types of “flow”: traffic flow and product flow. Traffic flow refers to the movement of employees as they do their job, and product flow is the movement of food items in a timely manner. The raw materials to prepare each dish arrive at the back of the restaurant, then go to the kitchen (where they are cooked), then travel to the dining area to be served. This flow of movement should be smooth and predictable. As an experienced restaurant construction company will tell you, any new build or remodeling process must ensure that traffic flow and product flow don’t interfere with each other.

Distance Between Kitchen and Service Area

If the service area (the busy zone between the dining area and the kitchen) is immediately adjacent to the kitchen, it’s recommended to choose 42-inch wide double doors with clear windows. Each door should swing only one way and clearly marked “In” or “Out” for the safety of employees. 

The shorter the distance between your kitchen and the wait station, the better. If the waiters have to travel a long distance between the two, they will be spending a lot of unnecessary time going back and forth. It will also be harder to keep the food items at proper temperatures if they have to be carried for longer distances.


Ventilation is an important issue for both safety and ambiance. Vents and fans should be installed properly to prevent any smoke from wafting into the dining space and to reduce the grease buildup that comes with cooking.

Restroom Facilities

The placement of restrooms in your restaurant usually depends on where the plumbing lines are, so they are typically built near the kitchen. That being said, guests should never have to pass through the kitchen to use the bathroom. Some restaurant contractors prefer to have them located at the back of the dining area, while some think it should be near the entrance so the guests can freshen up as they arrive or leave.

Most diners don’t like having to wait for the bathroom in a narrow hallway, outside a locked door, or in view of other guests. To avoid this, the construction work might include space for a small waiting area with sinks and mirrors and at least one stall with a locking door. Most restaurants don’t have enough space for restrooms to be lavish, but they should at least be roomy enough that guests don’t feel uncomfortably cramped.

Depending on your total seating capacity or square footage, your local health ordinances may require a specific number of toilets and urinals. For a small restaurant, with up to 50 seats, the toilet and washbasin area should have a minimum of 35 to 40 sq. ft. The fancier the establishment is, the roomier the bathrooms should be.

Other Design & Environment Factors to Keep in Mind


Lighting is the single most important environmental consideration in food-serving establishments. The right lighting enhances the mood of a dining area, the appeal of the food, and the efficiency of a kitchen. And yet, in each of these situations, “right” means a completely different thing. Make sure your interior designer or restaurant remodeling contractor has extensive experience in lighting design. They will be determining not only the appearance and placement of light fixtures, but also the intensity, direction, and contrast of light levels in different parts of the dining area. 

The type of lighting you choose will depend on what type of facility you have. For example, a quick-service restaurant is usually brightly lit to help move guests through the ordering and pickup process and to discourage lingering. In this case, you should install big windows to take advantage of daylight and lower your utility bills. It will give customers the impression of a quick, casual meal.

But in the case of, say, an intimate eatery, you’ll need subdued light levels to encourage a leisurely or romantic dining experience. If you are putting fine artwork on the walls, you’ll want to play up the collection by spotlighting it. Light can also be used to cast shadows in certain spots in order to infuse texture into an otherwise dull space.

If your restaurant is multipurpose – i.e., it serves business lunches during the day and intimate dinners in the evening – install dimmers on the lighting system to allow for a change of light levels and reflect different moods.

Kitchen lighting is an entirely different subject from dining area lighting. For your employees’ comfort and safety, and to make sure they are able to practice attention to detail while working, ask your restaurant contractor to make kitchen lighting bright and long-lasting. It should be something that gives off the least possible amount of heat. The most popular kitchen lighting option is fluorescent lamps, which are bright, durable, and inexpensive.

Noise & Sound Control

There are a lot of sounds that fill a restaurant: people talking, waiters reciting the daily specials or taking orders, the bussing of dishes and cleaning of tables, the operation of kitchen equipment, the humming of the HVAC system, and the background music from speakers or live band to top it all off. Traffic noise can also be a factor if you’re located on a busy street.

Interestingly, where too much noise can be pretty uncomfortable, an absence of noise is just as awkward. In other words, your restaurant’s noise level should be very deliberate, as it’s an important component of the environment and mood. 

The ceiling of a room is an obvious choice for the sound control treatment. This is where acoustical tile, spray-on acoustic surfaces, and fiberglass panels padded with perforated metal facings, wooden slats, or fabric come to the rescue. You can also cover the walls with curtains, padding, or carpet to muffle the sound.

Fabric plays a critical role in absorbing sound. Choose window coverings made with heavy material, chairs with padding, and tables covered with cloth. For floor coverings, pick a high-pile carpet to minimize noise. It will be more expensive at the outset, but it can last more than a decade.

When it comes to controlling sound in the kitchen, most restaurants have doors that separate the kitchen from the dining area. Some kitchens have passageways instead of doors, in which case, both ceilings and walls should have acoustical treatments in the transition zones. The most popular sound abatement options for a restaurant kitchen are acoustical tile ceilings, exhaust fans (to reduce vibration and humming), using fiberglass/plastic dish carts instead of metal, and installing refrigerator compressors outside the kitchen.

Ventilation and Air Quality

A poorly designed ventilation system can be disastrous for a food service establishment – just imagine all the guests having to bear each and every smell emanating from the kitchen! Ventilation should be treated as part of the overall environment. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has also become a serious concern in the commercial construction industry.

To keep your customers and workers healthy and to avoid the risk of getting sued for poor IAQ, you have to install high-quality filtration systems, manage the airflow within the interior spaces, and bring in plenty of outdoor air. It goes without saying that all your HVAC equipment should be kept clean and in good working condition at all times.

Consider using Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) systems, which use energy to change both the humidity and temperature of the incoming air, or Demand Control Ventilation (DCV) which enables you to adjust the amount of outdoor air that flows in. DCV systems are highly popular among restaurant owners because their sophisticated sensors constantly monitor how much air is being consumed and how much should be supplied.

We Can Make Your Restaurant Construction and Design Dreams Come True

Corporeal Visions is a full-service commercial design, build, and project management firm for clients based in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Our talented team of designers, architects, and general contractors has successfully completed numerous cafés, eateries, bars, pubs, diners, and fine dining restaurant projects.

Whether it’s a restaurant remodeling project or new construction from the ground up, it takes creativity, skill, and dedication to get the job done within budget and on time. Our work is not finished until we have brought your unique vision to life and surpassed your expectations.

Over the years, we have earned the reputation for being one of the few restaurant contractors in the industry which utilizes cutting-edge technology to capture our client’s dreams in design. This includes using augmented reality (AR) and hologram technology in our design process so clients can see and walk through the restaurant space before committing to the plans.

You don’t have to visualize it in your mind anymore – with the help of our AR technology we will show you what each wall, ceiling, and corner of your restaurant looks like from the inside out. Our interior designers will help you see how your restaurant will look with different seating styles, lighting, art displays, layouts, color palettes, and other design elements.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help with the design/build processes for your restaurant renovation or new construction, call us at 703-909-4193 or get in touch with us online. Soon you will have the best restaurant in the area!

If you have questions, concerns, or you’re ready to begin the process, we can’t wait to hear from you. Contact us today via phone or online.

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