A few clever tricks with furniture and layout can make a small space feel much larger.
Stuart Smith, one of the directors of Warings Furniture, spoke to Caterer and Hotelkeeper on how a business can maximise their space in four ways – size, spacing, style and bespoke.
Table and chair size are key to creating a workable venue. There are big variations between chair frame sizes, so get advice from an expert on which chairs have a small footprint. Smaller, stackable chairs can still offer comfort and style while giving you the flexibility to use your space wisely.
Consider the size of table you need. This depends on what you’re serving your customers and how you’re serving them. If you have space limitations, think about placing fewer tables in the room rather than creating an unpleasant experience for your customers and additional problems for your staff.
There is no industry standard for the space you must allow per diner, but depending on the type of restaurant or bar, a customer may need more or less room for their meal. Fast food restaurants, cafes and coffee shop dining may need less space than some menus, such as those in fine dining, Italian and Mexican restaurants, which require a larger space for place settings, utensils, condiments and serving platters.
The best advice is to create tables using to-scale cardboard cut-outs. Lay out your ‘table’ with plates, cutlery and condiments, trying out various layouts and combinations. It’s a simple way to discover the dimensions that will work for your customer
Customers’ sense of personal space should be factored in when considering spacing between and around tables and chairs, so don’t feel the need to squeeze people in even though the venue is small.
Keep in mind that you’re better off setting up an additional table in another room, or leaving it out all together, rather than crowding a dining room with a large table and too much furniture, making diners feel uncomfortable.
The style of furniture you choose must be suited to your customers’ needs. The best bet is to offer variety in seating: a bar and high stools for people dashing in and out, tables for large families and booths for intimate couples and friends.
Remember that furniture with legs looks like it takes up less space than pieces that sit directly on the floor. It is far better to have centre pedestal tables in small spaces so diners do not have any obstructions to get in and out of their seats.
In a small venue you should make good use of every corner. If there is an odd-shaped nook in the layout, get furniture designed to fit that space and work with designers to create small pieces that fit the scale of the venue to make it feel bigger.