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How to calculate the interior space for restaurant seatings

Updated April 17, 2017

Restaurant space is generally divided into kitchen and dining room spaces. The standard formula for restaurant layout allots about 60 per cent of the space for dining and 40 per cent for the kitchen and storage area. After square footage has been measured and allotted for the kitchen area, if this is not already determined by existing walls and dividers, the seating capacity of the dining area must be determined through measurement and calculation.

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  1. Determine the total square footage of the main restaurant dining area. Measure the length and width of the room and multiply the two figures together to arrive at the square footage.

  2. Determine the amount of square footage lost from indentations into the overall space. Calculate these by separately measuring the outside length and width of the indentation and multiplying the two figures together. Deduct this amount from the square footage calculated in Step 1.

  3. Use the same method to determine the square footage of any side dining rooms or extra spaces.

  4. Divide the square footage of each room by 10, 15 or 20, depending on the type of restaurant that is planned. Banquet seating, which packs patrons closely together, may require only 10 square feet per person, while a fine dining layout calls for double this figure. General restaurant use calls for a formula of approximately 15 square feet per person, which will allow for access between tables as well as stations for the servers. As an example, if the available space is 1,000 square feet, the seating capacity will be approximately 50 for fine dining, 67 for general restaurants and 100 for banquet seating.

  5. Add the capacity of each dining area together to determine the total seating capacity of the restaurant. Decide what proportion of the restaurant space is to be occupied by booths, tables and/or counter seating. Booths typically require 10 square feet per person, while counters call for close to 20 square feet per person.

  6. Tip

    Fast food dining can use the tightest formula of 10 square feet per person, though slightly more space is recommended. Tables should be placed f4 to 5 feet apart, not including chairs. This will allow for adequate aisle space for servers and patrons. Wait stations, which take space away from patron seating, can require between 10 to 40 square feet depending on their size and the number of patrons to be served.


    Calculation of seating capacity is a valuable guide to what will be possible in the space available, but the actual figure depends on variables such as oddly shaped areas, booths and tables available, and the design of a counter, if any. A restaurant planning consultant can be of help in deciding what types of tables and booths to purchase.

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Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Calculator

About the Author

David B. Ryan has been a professional writer since 1989. His work includes various books, articles for "The Plain Dealer" in Cleveland and essays for Oxford University Press. Ryan holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Indiana University and certifications in emergency management and health disaster response.

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