How to Design a Buffet Restaurant

Updated July 20, 2017

When designing a buffet restaurant, the most important thing to consider is the smooth flow of traffic. You want to ensure that guests can move in a linear and orderly fashion from one end of the buffet table to the other. Another factor to consider is aesthetics. You want to decorate your buffet tables and stations so they match the theme of the menu or season. A good buffet restaurant should serve a wide array of salads, appetizers, main courses and desserts that complement each other well.

Choose a location for the buffet table. You want an area with plenty of space, so guests can move with ease. Set up banquet tables in your restaurant and cover them with table skirts or toppers designed to fit the table, covering the legs. You can add runners or smaller patterned tablecloths on top of the larger tablecloth.

Use attractive food serving and display supplies that can keep food warm or cold and can hold large quantities. Mirror trays are good for hors d’oeuvres while tiered display stands and display risers are perfect for colourful cakes and desserts. Wicker breadbaskets and tasting spoons also add an elegant touch to your buffet.

Place the salads and appetizers on one end of the table, followed by main dishes then dessert. The sequential flow of dishes from appetizers to desserts creates a sense of harmony and will allow dinners to move along the table in an orderly fashion. Alternatively, you can have one banquet table for appetizers, a second table for entrées and a third for dessert.

Arrange the plates at the beginning of the table, at the corner right next to the salad and appetizers. Put the silverware and napkins at the end of the table, at the corner near the dessert. Also place the dessert plate and fork in this corner.

Decorate the tables with a floral arrangement, an ice sculpture or staple tinsel along the edges of the table to add more pizazz to your buffet restaurant.

Add more variety and excitement to your restaurant by including several food stations close to the main banquet tables where chefs carve up roasts or cook omelettes or pasta.

Make sure that decor and colour of your banquet table(s) and food stations complement the overall ambience and theme of the restaurant.


If you want traffic to move along even quicker in your restaurant, hire serving staff who will stand behind the buffet table and serve guests as they move along.

Things You'll Need

  • Banquet tables
  • Large white linen tablecloths
  • Smaller coloured tablecloths or runners
  • Plates
  • Silverware
  • Napkins
  • Buffet serving trays and display stands
  • Flower arrangement or ice sculpture
  • Tinsel
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About the Author

Michele Koh Morollo began her writing career in 1997. She has been published in titles such as "Psychologies," "AFAR," "Harper’s Bazaar," "Home Concepts," "Asian Geographic PASSPORT," "Frequent Traveller," "Her World," "Singapore Architect," "Ascott Living," and "WHERE Magazine", where she served as editor for two years. She graduated from the London College of Communications where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.