The best way to reduce the overall cost of a fast-food or fast-casual restaurant build is to make good design decisions right from the start. Fully understanding how you intend to use your space and your establishment’s occupancy is pivotal. Wise initial design decisions when building a fast food, fast-casual, or takeout restaurant go a long way. In this blog post, the Los Angeles area restaurant builders at H.W. Holmes, Inc. explain the importance of understanding your restaurant’s floor plan, occupancy, and other often overlooked components necessary for sensible cost-effective restaurant design right out the gate.


Space is money. Inefficient use of space can slow down your kitchen, your servers, and ruin the experience of your guests. When service is slowed, it takes each table longer to get their food and finish dinner. This decreases the number of customers that can be seated and served on any given night.

Know how much of your space will be allocated to seating, the kitchen, storage, and prep area. Would a dining area that takes up 60% of your square footage leave you with adequate space for food storage, prep, and cooking?

60/40 is the general rule of thumb in restaurant design. Devote 60% of your space to dining and the remaining 40% for kitchen, storage, and preparation.

Knowing what type of restaurant you’re opening is a must. The type of restaurant, more specifically, dine-in vs. takeout, is a huge factor. 12 to 15 square feet per person is recommended for full-service restaurant dining. 18 to 20 square feet per person for fine dining establishments. Most fast-casual restaurants or coffee shops with a general menu and counter service require about 11 to 15 square feet per person.

Diners and servers should have a clear aisle for foot traffic. This traffic path should be at least 18 inches wide between occupied chairs and tables. This room to move is good for your servers, your service, and the overall guest experience.

And don’t forget to provide adequate space for wait sections and the cashier, too.

Take a balanced approach to seating capacity. Don’t sacrifice the comfort of your guests just to pack in more customers for more profit. What’s fashionable today is a nice blend of ambiance and seating capacity.


Every restaurant has these sections. Areas where customers just don’t want to sit. The tables near the kitchen entrance, the restrooms, or the front door where there’s a draft or a rush of cold air anytime someone walks in or out. That dreaded table sitting right smack in the middle of the dining room or the table right beneath an HVAC vent is just as undesirable.

Sometimes problem areas aren’t noticed until after construction. This is why construction should ideally be finished a few weeks before your open date. This will give you a chance to sit throughout your establishment, in its completely finished state, and look at the restaurant design and layout from the eyes of a customer. It’s then when you might realize that table 6 has a direct view of the bus station or table 2 has a very noticeable draft from the front door.

In this case, you can be proactive here to mask these problem areas. One way to do this is to place dividers or partitions to disguise these problem areas. Even placing tall plants between tables might help. Figure out a way to detract from whatever negative experience a patron might have seated at these particular tables.


Needless to say, restaurant kitchens can get hot. They put out a lot of heat. Not to mention smells and smoke, too. Proper ventilation is a must. So is proper air conditioning for optimal guest comfort.

Avoid any temptation to skimp on any HVAC components. An HVAC system has the potential to make or break a guest’s experience. It’s not uncommon to find a YELP review where someone praises a certain restaurant’s food but simultaneously complains about the backroom being too hot or a musty smell.

Get the HVAC system just right BEFORE you open. Your system needs to provide a consistent temperature throughout the dining area.

The same applies to proper ventilation. Many smells can permeate a restaurant. You can have vegetarian and vegan options on the menu but no vegetarian or vegan wants to smell pork being roasted while they eat their hummus wrap.


H.W. Holmes, Inc. is a commercial construction company based out of Camarillo, CA. We’ve made a lot of dust fly in our 25+ years of service to this region. We’ve built and renovated restaurants throughout Southern California. Many construction companies are hesitant to build restaurants because they lack the necessary experience in restaurant construction. We possess that necessary experience and have a portfolio of finished projects throughout the area to show off this experience. Contact us today to discuss your project!