A great floor plan makes your restaurant look inviting to diners, helps keep your service running smoothly, and takes account of all the important logistics and regulations. All things considered, your floor plan has a huge impact on the dining experience and can also be a significant component in determining your setup, and running costs.
What is a restaurant floor plan?
A restaurant floor plan is an important tool for creating a high-quality dining experience and a smooth flow of service. An effective restaurant plan includes important logistical and regulatory details that help cut down set up and running costs and significantly impact the guest experience while also attracting more diners.
The importance of restaurant floor planning
The very best front-of-house plans are logical and create a convenient layout that allows easy movement of both guests and wait staff.
Depending on the type of restaurant, you’d usually expect a mix of tables aimed at different groups of guests set at a comfortable and maneuverable distance. This should work in tandem with welcoming décor that helps you set the tone for your space. Having a finished floor plan is also required for your restaurant reservation system.
So, how do you make sure you get it right?
We previously talked about creating a restaurant floor plan for service and how to get the best out floor plan management. Here we look at planning a great restaurant floor layout and some of the software that’s available to help you.
Floor planning essentials
Just as a quick reminder, some of the things you’ll potentially need to factor into your restaurant floor plan are:
- A waiting area
- Dining area (with tables of different sizes)
- Prep areas
- Restrooms and routes to restrooms
- Views from different points e.g. kitchen views or interesting views for the waiting area
- Compliance with accessibility legislation
To ensure all spaces flow accordingly, you may want to plan the back of the house and outdoor spaces along with your restaurant floor.
Lighting should also be considered alongside layout since it plays a key role in setting the ambiance of your restaurant and helps to make your food look appetizing.
Making the mistake of positioning tables too close to large lights can subject your diners to unwelcome glare. And if there’s too little light they may not have an appreciation of just what it is that they’re eating.
Total Food Service recommends that you allocate around 60 percent of your restaurant floor plan to dining. They also suggest you allocate 20 square feet per person for a fine dining restaurant. The trend for gourmet casual dining means we are now seeing the use of booths and benches in higher-end restaurants too, which can take a little more consideration.
Restaurant floor plans and social distancing guidelines
In the post Covid world, you're going to need to be flexible as a restaurant operator - to adhere to social distancing guidelines, but also to be able to return your restaurant floor plan to what it looked like before covid.
We recommend keeping up to date with your local guidelines when planning out your floor plan or alternatively, follow the latest updates provided by the CDC.
Running a restaurant in the post covid world becomes infinitely easier if you're using a table management system that has a built-in drag and drop floor plan builder. This makes it easy to create multiple floor layouts and adapt on-the-fly.
Now let's move on to our recommendations for the top 6 floor plan creators you need to start using today.
Top 6 Restaurant Floor Plan Creators
You could start your restaurant planning with paper and pencil and eraser but with software designed for the job, why not save yourself time and effort?
Many restaurant owners leave planning their restaurant floor to architects and designers but if you’d like to have some input by creating a mock-up, want to prepare something ahead of time for seeking planning permissions, or simply prefer to do the job yourself, these restaurant plan creators have been designed to make the process quicker and neater, enabling you to create your own floor plan. Many of them allow you to factor in your interior design preferences too.
RoomSketcher creates designs and floor plans for a range of projects from home décor though to office layout. It’s designed to be easy to use even for those without professional experience and can be used on Mac, Windows, or a tablet. You can also place an order with the RoomSketcher experts to have a floor plan drawn for you.
RoomSketcher has three subscription plans that come with different features including:
- 2D and 3D floor plans with measurements
- 3D photos
- 360 views
- Printing to scale
- Real products for placement
- Drawing from blueprint
- Customized fixtures, fittings, and decor
- Floor plan branding
- Total area calculation
- Floor plan customization
RoomSketcher offers a free plan with basic features, but to unlock the 2D and 3D planning features you’ll need to upgrade to the VIP subscription priced at $49 or go for the full package with the Pro subscription priced at $99.
CAD Pro is one of the most popular computer-aided design programs with over 2.5 million users worldwide. CAD for Windows is designed for home or commercial space design but it boasts lots of features that allow for beautiful floor plan creation. You’ll also find some sample plans on the website to help you get started.
Keep in mind that using CAD requires a certain level of expertise and might not be easy to navigate for a complete beginner.
- Free restaurant library of readymade symbols
- Exportable graphic formats including PDF
- Photo tracing and editing software
- Dimension tools with precise alignment
- Add pop up images, notes or sound to annotate
- Textures for countertops, flooring, and more
- Menu and flyer designing capabilities
CAD Pro is priced at $99.95 for the full subscription inclusive of all features.
SmartDraw describes itself as a ‘diagramming app’ with intelligent formatting and designer templates. It also includes features that allow you to draw and print engineering and architectural diagrams to scale. SmartDraw is compatible with both Windows and Mac.
If you’d like to use it to draw a floor plan, you can select a template and use symbols to create something simple and functional. It’s also good for flowcharts if you need to map out any of your business processes or structures.
- Floor plan templates to get you started
- Large library of floor plan symbols
- Photo tracing and editing software
- Cross-platform integration with tools like MS Office, Jira, Trello, and more
- Intelligent formatting
- Architectural and engineering diagramming tools
- Textures for surfaces
SmartDraw comes with a free trial and is priced at $9.99 per month ($119.40/year) after that.
This interactive floor plan creator is really easy to get to grips with, making it simple to create floor plans to scale that can then be exported. It has lots of attractive surfacing options and symbols. Just set the room planner to ‘hospitality’ and you can define areas for your restaurant, bar, foyer, or restroom with one click then choose colors, materials and add and layout fixtures, fittings, and most importantly, tables.
- Library of symbols surfaces and colors
- Exportable as PDF
- Incorporates high-resolution imagery
- Simple click and drag manipulation
- 2D and 3D view setting options
Floor planner comes with three subscription plans, starting with the free basic plan with editing and exporting functionality. The Plus plan priced at $5/ month removes export limits, and the full-stack PRO plan comes at $29/month. You can purchase additional plan credits at a cost based on the plan you choose.
Billed as ‘versatile business and diagramming software’ this program allows you to make flow diagrams, timelines, and mind maps along with floor plans, so it could prove beneficial for your restaurant marketing and admin too. The real seller though is the additional Cafe and Restaurant Plans solution for ConceptDraw Pro aimed specifically at floor planning for hospitality which comes equipped with thousands of restaurant-focused design elements.
- Draws diagrams to scale
- High-quality fixture, furniture, appliance, and building clip art symbols
- Mac or Windows compatible
You’ll need to purchase and download ConceptDraw Diagram14 at a cost of $199 and install the additional Café and Restaurant Solution priced at $25.
Made by NCH Software this floor plan creator allows you to plan out all areas of your restaurant, from the plants on your patio through to the appliances in your kitchen and of course, your table plan and view it in 3D, 2D, and blueprint mode. You can import existing floor plans to give you a head start.
- Mac, Windows, and tablet compatible (Kindle/Android)
- Import existing floor plans and blueprints
- Switch between 3D, 2D, and blueprint view
- Plan your décor with surface finishes, 3D furniture, fittings and appliances
This software usually retails at $40 but is currently on sale at $19.99.
Once you've decided on your floor plan creator, it’s time to finalize your floor plan, and recreate that design in your table management system to improve your restaurant’s efficiency and profitability.