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HA442 : The Class : Concept Development : Design Criteria : Design Criteria

Food Service Design Criteria

Foodservice Design Criteria


The purpose of this topic is to acquaint you with some of the issues in foodservice design. The position of foodservice designer is highly specialized and deals with many points beyond the scope of this topic. When choosing a person or firm to design an operation make sure you choose one that is experience in the field. Visit some of the operations they designed to see if you agree with the style of the designer. My goal is that the end of this topic you will better understand the factors that both favorably and unfavorably effect foodservice design.

The layout and design of a food service operation are two of the crucial factors in the success of the restaurant. The layout and design of the operation affects such factors as the cost of the operation, the image the operation portrays to guests, the flow of goods from receiving to service, etc. There are many factors that must be considered in the design and layout of the operation that will help either contribute or hinder the success of the operation.

Chain restaurants have a distinct advantage over independents in the area of design and layout. Since chains [such as Chili's, Red Lobster, McDonald's, etc.] operate many restaurants they have the opportunity to try out many designs, then once they find the designs that work best they simply replicate them for future operations. This saves them both time and money as well as increasing the opportunity for success because they are building already tested designs.

There are problems if the layout is too small for the volume or conversely problems if it is too big. If the design is too small it hinders productivity, slows service, and could drive away guests. If the design is too big the operating costs of the operation is higher than it should be. A larger operation requires more labor to staff which in turn raises costs. Care must also be taken to ensure the operation portrays the theme and mood the owner is trying to achieve. The design of both the interior and exterior should reinforce the concept or theme of the operation.

The design of the facility should be done after the concept has been decided and the general menu designed. Owners looking to design a new restaurant for a new untested concept face some problems and a variety of choices. The factors below are all important and should be considered prior to the design of the food service operation.

Factors to consider in foodservice design

1. The profile of the guest
2. Average number of guests per day
3. Maximum number of guests per day
4. Business pattern
5. Guest's length of stay at food service operation
6. Financial constraints of the operation
7. Type of menu and types of menu choices
8. Amount of money customer is willing to spend for the meal
9. The size of the building [this is usually dictated by the size of the lot]
10. The ratio of kitchen to dining room space,
11. The capacities of the equipment,
12. Type of seating
13. Meals served [Breakfast only, Breakfast and lunch, Lunch and dinner, or all three]
14. Location

Decisions made in the design phase of the operation are relatively easy to change while the plans are still just on paper. Changes to plans once the operation is up and running are more difficult and more costly.

To help develop an operation that will work well and satisfy the needs of all involved is to use the team approach. If possible, the design team should involve the working manager. Be leary of an operation developed by an outside design firm whose responsibilities end once the operation is open. The manager will provide insight into the operational needs since he or she will be running the operation.

The challenge
Find a design that reflects the concept, allows workers to do their jobs, provides customers with what they want and desire, and falls within the budget. Care must be taken so that the cost of the facility is not more than the operation can afford to pay.

The goal of design is:

1. To balance the cost with the income potential
2. Make it appealing to attract guests
3. Allocate space so it is comfortable
4. Show imagination and creativity
5. Be efficient in both space and energy use
6. Be both safe and sanitary
7. Balance between practicality and appearance
8. The atmosphere is pleasing and complements the décor.

A properly designed facility is:

1. Both visually pleasing and operational.
2. The kitchen is large enough to serve the number of seats in the dining,
3. the kitchen has the equipment necessary to prepare the items on the menu,
4. The capacity of the equipment is sufficient to handle the volume of business.
5. The colors and lighting in the dining room are complementary and enhance the dining experience.

Points to Consider
1. Menu; type size, variety
2. The budget
3. Size; ties to feasiblity of the operation


When designing and develop a food service operation care has to given to more than simply the physical facility. This does not discount the importance of the design of the physical facility but encourages those involved in the design phase to consider the atmosphere of the operation. The atmosphere of the operation is developed once the design and layout are completed.

Atmosphere is the overall impression the customer gets from the operation. Atmosphere helps encourage repeat customers. Customers judge more than the quality of the food and service when dining. They judge the atmosphere in a more subconscious way then the other factors of the operation. A poorly planned uncomfortable atmosphere is definitely noticed. An atmosphere that is mediocre does not stand out to guests, where a great atmosphere is noticed.

The role of determining the interior design of the operation is best left to a professional interior designer. The cost of the interior designer is small compared to the overall cost of the operation. Let the professional help suggest colors and lightening for the operation and it will benefit the operation in the long run.

Factors of Atmosphere

The atmosphere of a food service operation is multi-faceted. It is made up the appearance, colors, odors, sound and comfort level.

Furnishings need to be selected both for their visual appeal, practicality and durability. The items must look good when they are new as well as when they are several years old. The ease of maintenance and cleaning must be considered when choosing items. For example, a beautiful chair that fits all of the design criteria is not going to be useful if the seat cover is a light color that easily stains and is easy to clean,

The level of the sound in the operation should neither be too loud or too soft. The sounds in a foodservice operation come from many sources some intentional some un-intentional. Guests do not care to hear the conversation of the party at the next table over the conversation of the person they dining with. The dish room generates loud unpleasant noises guests do not appreciate. Care should be given in the design to shield customers from the sounds of the dish room,

Music can be used to complement the theme or concept of the operation. The volume of the music needs to be adjusted properly as not to over shadow guests' conversations, but loud enough for people to hear if they are interested. Care must be taken not to offend customers by the type of music played.

The design of the dining room, floor and wall coverings, the location of the dishroom are all factors that contribute to the noise level in the dining room. Putting partial walls between areas of the dining room will help reduce noise from spreading through-out. Carpets, rugs as well as cloth-type wall coverings help absorb sound. Tile or wood floors and brick walls may fit ones concept well, but reflect rather than absorb the sound generated in the dining room. The dishroom is one of the largest noise generators in the food service operation. The door of the dishroom should not open directly to the dining room if possible.

Odors can either complement or detract from the dining experience. The smell of stale beer, smoke, or disinfectants will be noticed customers and will detract from the dining experience. While the smell of the broiling meat, or bread baking in the oven are pleasant and enhance the dining experience. The key is to remove the unpleasant smells and leave the pleasant smells. Do not skimp on the air circulation and exhaust system.

The color of walls and furnishings influence the way we perceive them. Dark colors make an area look smaller while bright colors make an area look bigger. Color and level of lighting are key factors in determining the atmosphere.

Bright colors and lights are better for fast food operations. Fast food restaurants do not want to encourage guests to stay in the dining room for long periods of time. Bright colors and lights do not encourage guests to stay long. While sit down restaurants are slower paced and higher priced than fast food operations. Sit down restaurants want guests to stay so their interiors are best with cool colors and soft lights.

Comfort Level
The comfort level of guests is influenced by many factors some more obvious than others. The temperature level of the dining room contributes to the comfort level diners. Guests will object if the dining room is too warm as well as too cool. The pad of the seat is another important factor when determining the comfort level of the dining establishment. The comfort level of the seats varies with the type of restaurant. Hard seats are fine for about 15-20 minutes then they become uncomfortable perfect for a fast food operation. While, comfortable seat encourages guests to stay and order multiple courses of food and running up a big bill is preferred in sit down restaurants.

Many factors must be considered when designing a food service operation. The owner of the operation needs to do research to determine many of the factors of the new facility. They must look at their customer profile, anticipated meal patterns, forecasted customer counts, meals served, type of menu, etc.

The design of the operation comes early in the formulation of the restaurant. Changes to the design differ in cost and complexity the longer into the process they occur. Alterations to the plans while the operation is still on the drawing board are simple; changes once the operation is built are expensive and labor intensive.

The design of the operation is more than just the physical facility. Careful planning is required in the development of the atmosphere of the operation. The atmosphere is everything the customer experiences when visiting an operation. It is the design of the interior and exterior, the colors used the level of lighting, type of music, etc. Atmosphere is plays a crucial role in encouraging repeat guests.

To complete this Topic successfully, please complete the following activities in the order shown below:

ASSIGNMENT 1: Use this checklist to evaluate tbe design of a foodservice operation

You should now:

Go on to Food Service Control Points
Go back to Concept Development Site Selection

Send E-mail to Dr. Rande or call (520) 523-1710


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