Opening a Restaurant? How much Space do you Need?

When you look at commercial space to lease for a restaurant, it can be difficult to ascertain how much space you need and how to utilize the space. We’ve done some research to help you answer this question.

Here are some guidelines for some common types of food establishments:

  • Pizzerias need 800-1,500 sq.ft. (small) and 2,500-4,000 sq.ft. (large)
  • Sandwich shops need 500-3,000 sq.ft.
  • Coffee houses need 800-3,000 sq.ft.
  • Bakeries need 1,000-1,500 sq.ft. (for takeout only), and 3,000 sq.ft. (if eat-in retail)

Professional architects and designers recommend that your available space be designed into a floor plan with the following space allocations:

  • 40% dining space
  • 30% kitchen
  • 12% food preparation, dishwashing, trash
  • 18% storage and administrative offices

If your sit-down restaurant will incorporate a bar, you should plan 1 bar seat per 3 dining seats (table). For a large dining room, this may not be feasible, but be sure to have enough seating for diners waiting for a table.

With this information in hand, you should have what you need to make informed decisions about your commercial lease and build-out/renovations for your new space.  Of course, every design concept is unique but these guidelines offer a starting point for new restaurateurs.

If you have experience that differs, or confirms, these general guidelines, we’d love to hear from you.  What works (or doesn’t work) for you?