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Coffee shops aren’t just about chill vibes and cozy spaces – your restaurant floor plan should be intuitive and accessible to all guests. Many states require business owners to submit blueprints for building permits.
Use this guide to create a welcoming experience that customers are eager to return for.
How to Create a Coffee Shop Floor Plan
They’re a map of the physical space of the shop – the dining room, ordering queue, bathrooms, kitchen, dish station, prep areas, storage, any outdoor space, and, of course, the coffee bar. The floor plan is a visualization of how all the spaces of your coffee shop fit together.
Blueprints and floor plans require a little creativity and some research – balance your vision for the coffee shop with the accessibility of the space. How your guests and servers navigate the space is just as important as ambiance and aesthetics.
Options for Creating a Coffee Shop Floor Plan
Consider working with an interior design studio to help bring your vision to life. The right designer can curate a focused aesthetic for the space and collaborate with you to deliver the perfect guest experience.
Before you start the design process, imagine how you’ll fill the space. You might focus attention on the craft and care your baristas put into drinks. Design a space that draws guests' attention where you want it.
Accessibility Requirements for Coffee Shop Floor Plans
States and municipalities all have building codes to which public buildings must adhere. Complying with building codes ensures that your bar is accessible to all guests. But building codes are the bare minimum. Think about how you can design a space that works for everyone, not just “the average customer.”
Take inspiration for your nightclub’s floor plan from the people that use the space. Employing the principles of human-centered design not only results in beautiful, usable restaurant spaces, but can also lead to more engagement from customers.
How to Create a Coffee Shop Blueprint and Floor Plan
Whether you’re working with a designer or doing it yourself, this guide can help you to get an idea of what goes into creating blueprints and floor plans for your coffee shop.
Use floor plan design software to create a map of each of the spaces in your coffee shop. Then, build a picture of the seating, open space, decor, and the flow of traffic in each space.
Floor Plan Design Best Practices:
- Design accessible spaces with the humans that will use them in mind. Consider customers’ and employees' needs and local building codes.
- Create space for your guests to stand in line if your coffee shop is counter service, or a waiting room if it’s table service.
- Create an intuitive flow of service so that customers don’t have to guess about where to go or what to do.
- Factor in where your employees will take orders and use POS systems.
- Consider how the floor plan works with the theme and ambiance of your coffee shop.
Coffee Bar Floor Plan
I know firsthand the pain of working in a poorly planned coffee bar – it slows down the flow. If you hired a head barista that you trust, ask them to help you design your coffee bar. Or, consult the head barista at a successful local shop.
Consider what stations are near each other, how many baristas will be working on a shift, and the service capacity of your coffee shop.
Also, consider the space where your guests or servers interact with baristas. Be sure that a pickup counter is accessible. How will customers know where to go? You’ll want an intuitive floor plan that guides guests through the steps of service.
Staff Area Floor Plan
Staff areas such as offices and break rooms should be included in your floor plans. Be sure to set aside some of the back-of-house space for your managers to complete administrative tasks and for all of your staff to relax on breaks.
How Much Seating Should a Coffee Shop Have?
The industry standard, according to Total Food Service, is 60/40 – 40% of the space used for prep, the coffee bar, and kitchen, and 60% for guests and seating.
Another critical step is calculating the maximum occupancy of your space depending on local building codes. These will vary by restaurant type and location, but we suggest the following capacity per guest in these types of restaurants (local COVID guidelines may further restrict these calculations):
- Full-Service Restaurant Dining: 12-15 square feet
- Counter Service: 18-20 square feet
- Fast Food: 11-14 square feet
A coffee shop space of 3200 square feet would have 1,920 square feet of space for guests, and the capacity for a counter service coffee shop would be 106 customers. Each guest would have approximately 18 square feet of space.
Offering guests more space is usually a good idea. Spacing tables further apart and creating wide lanes for traffic is a great way to make your coffee shop accessible to people with disabilities. A study by Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration found that guests are more generous with their spending if they have more personal space.
Entrance Floor Plan
First impressions matter. Craft an entrance space or waiting area that invites guests into your coffee shop. Use architecture or signs to encourage them to move with the flow of the space that you’ve designed.
Outdoor Seating Floor Plan
A nice patio can attract a different niche of customers to your coffee shop and drive additional sales and profits. If you have the luxury of an outdoor space attached to your coffee shop, make sure it’s easy to access. If there's a narrow, steep flight of stairs or a long walk from the kitchen for staff, it won’t see as much use.
Restrooms Floor Plan
Believe it or not, restrooms are a deciding factor in many people’s choice of restaurants, according to a survey by Zogby International. Design restrooms that are big enough for all guests to navigate easily, and that are easy to access from dining areas. Avoid requiring guests to walk through staff areas to reach the restroom.
Cashier and POS Station Floor Plan
The POS is the center of your coffee shop – it’s how your cashiers or servers communicate with cooks and baristas and keeps track of all of your coffee shop’s operations.
In a counter-service coffee shop, you’ll likely have one POS station where customers place orders with a cashier. In a full-service coffee shop, set up POS stations in locations where your servers can easily access them. Or you might invest in handheld POS devices that your servers can use tableside. They’ll appreciate the reduced legwork.
Emergency Exits Floor Plan
Coffee shop blueprints must consider emergencies – use design software to map emergency exit routes. Be sure to communicate those routes to your staff and clearly mark external exits for customers.
Executing Your Coffee Shop’s Floor Plans
Once you craft detailed blueprints and floor plans, it's time to start making your bar a reality. Plumbers, architects, electricians, designers, artists, and your staff can help you to build the best bar possible.
Achieve the specific ambiance and experience you seek by consulting an interior designer. They can help you to paint, decorate, and purchase furniture that’s both functional and beautiful.
Installing light fixtures in a commercial space should probably be done by an electrician to be sure it’s up to code – the same goes for plumbing and any structural changes you want to make. Trade professionals can ensure your bar is up to standards and safe for operation.
It’s also important to work with city, county, and state officials for all the proper permits for building and blueprinting. If possible, maintain good working relationships with the employees in the permit office – they’ll be sure that your blueprints and any changes get approved on time.
And don’t forget to have fun and be creative! Designing and executing the plans you carefully made for your bar is exciting – put all of your passion into the design process and your customers will feel it.
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