Restaurant Design Standards

16 Restaurant Design Standards You Must Consider Before Opening a Restaurant In 2023

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Taste is not king,

In fact,

Customer satisfaction is,

And while most of the new restaurants rely only on the taste and quality of the food,

Most customers are actually looking for a unique experience,

Which includes:

  • Atmosphere
  • Core product
  • Service quality
  • Taste
  • Convenience
  • Smell


And most importantly, the Layout.

For that reason,

I will be sharing with you some of the restaurant design standards that will play a huge role in increasing your customer satisfaction,

We’ll cover this topic by dividing it into three main categories:

  1. Customer area design standards
  2. Design Drivers
  3. Evaluation table (+checklist)


Let’s rock!


Customer Area Design Standards:


1. First Impression

You need to make sure that you are capturing the customers’ full attention at the first contact,

Wow reaction


And this will include:

  • Entrance to the restaurant
  • Website Homepage
  • First appearance on paper ad or video ad
  • Service Contact
  • Menu Contact


At this stage,

Customers are still in the awareness phase of the consumer life cycle,

And making that first good impression is extremely valuable.


2. Seating arrangement

How the tables are laid out in your restaurant is really important when it comes to customers’ comfort,

In fact,

There are two major ways you can do this:


Lack of space: This is usually done by fast-food restaurants to increase turnover


The luxury of space: Fine dining restaurants will more often consider this arrangement as they provide guests with a unique experience,


So as you can see that will vary depending on what is your concept and how can the arrangement be in line with it,

The next section actually goes together with this one.


3. Capacity

Simply put together,

It is just how many customers can you receive in your restaurant,

While using all your equipment and furniture,

It is tied to many factors such as:

  • The size of your restaurant
  • Your concept
  • Your seating arrangement



Don’t focus on capacity over rationality,

If your concept is a Luxurious Japanese restaurant that offers omakase meals,

Japanese restaurant


You don’t want to put too many tables as it will ruin the whole concept,

Therefore providing a bad experience to guests


4. Flexibility

When a restaurant is flexible,

It means that it has full control over the seating arrangement and the capacity,

Changing the table layout of your restaurants,

Or being able to add more or less capacity depending on your needs,

Is what makes a restaurant flexible or not,

It is a Design Standard that should be in your mind when developing your concept,

As it can have a huge impact on your operations,


5. Comfort

Here I am especially referring to indoor air quality comfort,

And there are 4 drivers to human comfort:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Cleanliness
  • Airflow


Indoor air quality in restaurants


And you want to make sure you respect those factors to make your guests feel like staying more (fine dining), or less (fast food)


6. Finishes and durability

You need to make sure that your finishes and durability are not only in line with your concept,

But also that provides your guests with some type of interest,

Those will include:

  • Textures
  • Materials
  • Glass
  • Metal
  • Wallpapers


Those finishes should be durable and resistant in order to avoid unnecessary expenses in the future,


7. Colour

Choosing the color palette of your restaurant is crucial for both your brand identity and your customer perception,

That’s the reason why you should wisely choose them, again, depending on your concept,

Here are some psychological facts on colors usage:

Color Psychology In Restaurants


8. Lighting

When it comes to lighting,

There are two reasons why it is important,

  • The atmosphere of the restaurant
  • Sustainability


You want to focus on both factors,

And there are three types of artificial lighting to choose from:

  • Incandescent lighting
  • Electric discharge
  • LED



And if you want to respect those two factors that we mentioned earlier,

You should go with LED lighting as they not only provide you with a lot of flexibility,

But they also convert 95% of electricity into light,

Avoiding huge waste,


Artificial Lighting in restaurants


9. Technology and visual systems

These new restaurant design standards became a must in every restaurant,


Not all restaurants are integrating technology and visual systems into their design to impress guests,

And while using simple technology such as POS systems, can provide you with extreme service efficiency,

Here we want to look at technologies that catch the customer’s attention,

While not being a “dumb expense”,

Here are some examples:

  • Cat servers
  • Robot waiters
  • Interactive menu


And these are all the restaurant design standards that you must include within your customer areas,


We’re not done yet,

And let’s jump into the design drivers’ standards.



Design Drivers


When it comes to design drivers,

Those are actually where we don’t have absolute control over, (to some degree),

They force us to design the restaurant in one way or another,

That being said,

We need to carefully analyze them,

And determine whether the design drivers have a positive or negative impact on our design,

And we must specify why,

I have put together a spreadsheet that does just that,

You will be able to download it in the last section,


10. Physical design drivers

Here I am particularly referring to drivers such as:

  • Columns pillars,
  • Doors,
  • Windows,
  • Stairways,


Where you don’t really have control over,

For instance, if you really want to change the pillars of your restaurant because you want to increase the maximum capacity,

That will involve a lot of expenses,

And while you technically have control over it, (if you decide to pay for it),

That will depend on:

  • How successful are your operations
  • How much capital do you have at the moment
  • Is it going to harm future operations


11. Sun exposure


We can’t control the sun (obviously),

And sometimes,

It can affect your whole operation,

For instance,

Your restaurant can be located on a beautiful coast where the sun is shining all day long,

While some customers will enjoy it,

Most of the time you will have to account for extra costs tied to equipment to counter the sun lights such as umbrellas.

But now depending on your concept this could be a positive or a negative design driver.


12. Local Climate

The local climate is another force that you don’t control,

That will depend on your location,

And whether it is positive or not will depend on your concept,

For instance, a nice beach club restaurant will do very badly in a country with tropical weather.


13. Owner preference

Sometimes you could have owners that want a specific design for no particular reasons,

And again that could end up having either a positive or a negative impact on your overall operations,

The best way to overcome an owner with the idea of implementing a weird design,

Is simply by explaining how it will impact future revenue,

And how it could potentially bring more costs to the operations.


14. Limitations of the building

This refers to the layout requirements of a specific area,

Sometimes you will find yourself in a location where the local government is having control over how the buildings are laid out,

This could end up being bad if it doesn’t meet your needs,


In some cases, you can find yourself next to high-traffic locations thanks to those limitations,


15. Legislations

You must go through a deep analysis of your local policies and legislation,

This could have a tremendous impact on your operations,

But as long as you are following them,

There is no need to worry,


You don’t want to find yourself allowing guests to smoke in your outdoor seating,

While the local legislation is not allowing it,

This became even more important with the covid crisis where all restaurants got hit hard,

And where new restaurant design drivers came into the industry.


16. Operational needs

Sometimes you will find yourself over the guests with special events night,

Where your waiters will be doing a show cooking,

In those cases,

Your operational needs are drivers of the way that will design your restaurant at that particular moment,

Another example would be if you are deciding to expand,

And to introduce the restaurants to new markets,

Therefore if you decide to start serving Mexican food,

It would be a good idea to make your design somewhat transmit that atmosphere to the guests.

Most restaurants owners see the design drivers as potential downsides to their operations,


They are challenges,

Where you will find valuable opportunities to make your restaurant design standards even better,

Now in the next section,

You will be able to download both the checklist and the evaluation table,

In order to determine whether your design drivers are positive or negative.


Restaurant Design Standards Evaluation table


Subscribe to the newsletter at the end of the article to receive this downloadable table,




Restaurant Design Standards Checklist

Subscribe to the newsletter at the end of the article to receive this downloadable table,




I hope you enjoyed this small list of 16 restaurant design standards that will make your business stand out,


You might be wondering,

What’s next?

Well if you haven’t read our ultimate guide on restaurant design,

I would highly suggest it if you want to learn everything about designing a restaurant,

Or you can drop us a couple of lines,

We would love to answer any questions you might have,

That being said,

See you soon!

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