Room for Success: Spacing your Tables

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Restaurant Seating

How
much room do people need when they sit down to dine?
After all, dining is a relatively stationary
experience.
Nevertheless, people like to
have a bit of space, and the illusion of privacy is important.
How closely you place tables, and which types
of seating you choose, make a statement about the kind of restaurant you
run.
Here are a few things you should
consider when buying restaurant dining furniture.

Too
Close Ruins the Experience

Studies
have found that proximity affects customer satisfaction. In a report titled Don’t Sit So Close to
Me: Restaurant Table Characteristics and Guest Satisfaction
the authors
discovered that when tables are less than three feet apart, satisfaction and
spending decreased. That translates into
customers who spend less and who are less likely to return. On the flip side, unnecessarily large tables
don’t have the reverse results; customers at larger tables didn’t spend more
than they did at properly sized tables.

Varied
Sizes Help

The
industry standard suggests that each diner needs about 300 square inches of
space to feel comfortable. Anything
smaller is only suitable for fast food or café dining. That number may increase if formal dining is
involved, since additional items may be placed on the table. The same holds true for establishments that
use trays, many condiments and serving platters. To maximize efficiency it is generally best
to provide tables of different sizes.

In
order to get the most people into the space you have, and avoid overcrowding,
investing in tables which seat two and four guests at a time is best. Larger tables are rarely useful, unless you
regularly seat large parties or have a “family-style” environment. It is better to shift tables to create a
larger dining surface than it is to waste space.

General
Recommendations

There
are some basic numbers to consider when placing your tables. The minimum
spacing between rectangular tables is 52” on center. That leaves you 18” for each row of seats and
16” between chairs. This doesn’t leave
you an aisle for serving, however. If
you want servers to be able to walk between tables, leave an additional 14”,
bringing your total to 66” on center. Tables placed on a diagonal require about 2 feet from corner to corner,
and those by the wall require 30” from the back of the seat to the wall. You
can find plenty of layouts online if you need more suggestions.

Unusual
Guests

There
are always going to be a few guests that need special accommodations. Whether it is a left handed diner, a guest in
a wheelchair or even a particularly large guest, it pays to anticipate. Keep a spot free for extraneous restaurant
dining chairs
, invest in a couple of larger seats for guests in need, and you
will earn the thanks of your special guests. A quick shifting of tables a few inches will give everyone room to feel
comfortable while dining.