How would you increase capacity in a restaurant?

Reservations are pouring in, customers are raving about your restaurant, and business is booming – things are on the up. The next challenge? Dealing with the increase in demand, of course. 

Rather than having to turn away customers (and money!), we thought we’d share some quickfire tips to help you increase the capacity of your restaurant. You’ve achieved the one thing most businesses long for: more customers than you can serve. If you can find a way to meet this influx of bookings, it means more happy customers and more revenue – and that’s something we can get on board with! Let’s take a look. 

Make the most of corners 

Lots of restaurants leave corners empty, and the space ends up sitting idle. Consider adding an oversized booth in the corner of your restaurant: they utilise space that’s not being used, and are great for larger bookings too. To add to that, booths are intimate, which is the kind of experience you want to create at your restaurant. Four booths (one for each corner)seating 6 people each, and you’re looking at an extra 24 covers – all from taking advantage of space you already have!

Decoration rather than clutter

Does that big plant pot need to be there? What about that ornament – is it taking up much-needed space that could be better used elsewhere? We’re not saying you should remove all decor – we want to create a nice, welcoming atmosphere that looks and feels good after all. It is worth thinking about the decorations and art you’ve got around the restaurant though. If you can keep the aesthetics of the restaurant the same, whilst removing or rehoming unnecessary space-eating objects, then you’ll be able to add some more tables – and take more bookings!

Get smart with seating

How many large tables do you really need? If you mostly serve couples, do you need 12 tables of 6? Is that big sofa in the corner used as much as it could be? Get creative, and think about the ‘space-wasters’ in the restaurant. Again, we don’t want to compromise the quality or the ambience – we just need to make sure we’re being as efficient as possible. 

It’s the same story when it comes to layout. Take a long, hard lookout at your floor plan, and see if things could be done more efficiently. Could you switch some tables around? Are those big, meaty chairs worth the space? Does the function table need to be out? It’s the little things that make a big difference, like putting your server counters against the walls, rather than smack-bang in the middle of the restaurant. 

Think about the types of tables you’re using too. Small, square tables are your best bet for keeping things compact, but you can also push them together when you need larger tables for big bookings. Round tables might be able to cram a lot of people around the outside, but they take up massive amounts of room in the restaurant – and they’re often heavy, tough to move and one-dimensional. 

Keep in mind that although we’re looking to maximise space, there needs to be enough room between tables to keep things comfortable for your patrons. Around 45cm seems to be the sweet spot, and that’ll give diners enough room to get in and out without disturbing each other. 

If you need help with the design and layout of your restaurant, we’d be happy to lend a hand!

Top tip: ‘Stacking chairs’ are always handy – if you do have a big function or just need the extra room one night, they’re easy to move, stack and put away for the evening. Decking your restaurant out with flexible furniture gives you the opportunity to cater to larger parties when the need arises. The last thing we want is to turn away big bookings because you can’t accommodate them, and flexible furniture can help you tailor your seating arrangement to parties of all shapes and sizes. 

Set time limits

This tip isn’t designed to create extra space in the restaurant, but it does help you secure more bookings. More and more restaurants are turning to time limits to keep tables flowing throughout the day, and it’s a great way to get more customers in (and out) the door. Just make sure you let the booking know they’ve got a time limit before they arrive, and politely keep them updated throughout their meal about how long they have left. 

Really, really busy? Think about an extension

If you’ve tried every trick under the sun to mastermind new space in your restaurant, but are still coming up short, maybe it’s time to bring in the heavies. If space is at a premium but demand is higher than ever, an extension could be a smart move – especially as outdoor seating won’t offer the perfect experience year-round.

The first big plus with an extension is it saves you from having to move location. You’re not taking a gamble on whether a new location will be as popular, and you don’t have to worry about the start-up costs, hiring staff and other tiresome admin involved in opening a new site.    

If you have space available, it’s worth thinking about, it might not be as complex or costly as you had thought. There’s different design options, and your new extension can fit in seamlessly with the rest of your restaurant too. It doesn’t have to be more restaurant space either: you could add a bar, a lounge area, a function room – the world’s your oyster when it comes to extensions. Think of it as an investment that will pay off handsomely as you start to see more and more customers come through the door. 

Final thoughts 

We hope we’ve been able to give you some craft ideas for increasing the capacity in your restaurant. There needs to be a fine balance between taking more bookings and maintaining the experience and standards your customers know and love. If you can master this balancing act, you’re on the fasttrack to more bookings, more glowing reviews, and more revenue. Oh, we almost forgot – if you’ve been thinking about tweaking the layout of your restaurant to help boost capacity, you can get in touch with us here – we’re keen to see how we can help you grow even more! See you on the next blog!