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To create a memorable guest experience (and meet all the legal requirements), start with a smart ice cream shop floor plan. This guide will help you design blueprints that’ll set your shop up for success.
What Is An Ice Cream Shop Floor Plan?
The floor plans and blueprints of your ice cream shop are a map of every inch of the space, both indoors and outdoors. Ultimately, blueprints let you visualize how all the spaces of your shop fit and flow together.
We’ve started the research, but you have to bring some creativity to the table, and balance your vision with the accessibility requirements of guests and employees. How your guests and employees navigate and use the space is just as important as aesthetics.
An ice cream shop floor plan should include:
- Prep areas
- The kitchen
- The ordering queue
- Waiting areas
- Dining and seating areas
- Staff areas, offices, and break rooms
- Your ice cream shop’s POS system and cashier stations
- Dish area(s)
- Emergency Exits
- Accurate measurements of the space
Options for Creating an Ice Cream Shop Floor Plan
Don’t worry if you aren’t an artist, architect, or designer. The good news is that software makes designing your ice cream shop’s floor plan simple. SmartDraw, ConceptDraw, or CadPro are all reliable software programs that can create a custom blueprint for your shop.
If you hire an interior design studio, the team will work with you to develop a focused aesthetic and bring your dream ice cream shop to life.
No matter which option you choose, make sure that you go into the design process with an idea of how you want your ice cream shop to function. Where will the kitchen be? The dining area? Where will guests enter and place orders? As you answer these questions, double-check that your proposed layout allows guests to successfully navigate your space.
Accessibility Requirements for Ice Cream Shop Floor Plans
States and municipalities have building codes that public buildings must adhere to. Complying with building codes guarantees that your ice cream shop is accessible to all guests. But, as architect Justin Alpert says, adhering to building codes is the bare minimum – think about how you might design a space that works for everyone, not just “the average customer.”
Employing the principles of human-centered design not only results in beautiful, usable ice cream shop spaces but can also lead to more customer engagement. As you start designing, answer this question – how can you engage all of your community with the design of your shop?
The answer will all depend on you, your community, and your vision of your dream shop!
How to Create an Ice Cream Shop Blueprint and Floor Plan
Learn about how to create an ice cream shop blueprint and floor plan that will deliver a world-class, accessible guest experience whether you’re working with designers or doing it yourself.
Floor Plan Design Best Practices:
- Design accessible spaces with your customers in mind. Consider both your guests’ and employees' needs as well as local building codes.
- Include ample space for your guests while they wait in line to order or wait to pick up orders.
- Create an intuitive flow of service so that customers are not confused by how your ice cream shop functions.
- Factor in where your employees will be working. This includes identifying where POS systems will exist to efficiently conduct transactions and communicate with the kitchen.
- Consider how the floor plan works with the theme and ambiance of your ice cream shop.
Kitchen Floor Plan
The kitchen of an ice cream shop likely doesn’t have to be very big, but it’s still a primary consideration in your floor plans. If you have limited space, think wisely about how you can optimize it.
When space is too cramped for employees to work efficiently, everyone suffers. Make the most of your ice cream shop’s kitchen space, leaving ample room for large ice cream machines and freezers, as well as prep space for your employees to work and experiment with new flavors.
Staff Area Floor Plan
Include staff areas (such as offices and break rooms) in your floor plans, leaving space for managers to complete administrative tasks and for all of your staff to relax on breaks. A designated area for staff will also help to keep the shop organized, and provide space for you to post schedules and announcements.
Entrance Floor Plan
The entrance to your ice cream shop is the first impression customers get, and it is likely where your customers will spend the most time interacting with your staff.
Create a space that’s welcoming and memorable. Prioritize the path to the order queue and leave lots of space for people to navigate. Place the ordering counter near the entrance or use signs or creative architectural elements to guide customers through the experience.
Consider other elements like the local ice cream shop culture, your location, and the style of service you’re cultivating.
Order Queue Floor Plan
Design an order queue that optimizes the space in your ice cream shop while providing guests with an enticing view of the treats you make. Create lots of space for guests to wait, so that no one is crowded in or left out.
Cashier and POS Station Floor Plan
The POS is the center of the ice cream shop and the next stop after the order queue. Your POS station keeps track of inventory, sales, and more for your restaurant. Place it in a strategic, central location for ease of access.
Seating Area Floor Plan
While the seating of an ice cream shop won’t take up the bulk of the space, it should have a consistent aesthetic and be accessible to all guests. Even in the tightest ice cream shop spaces, it’s good to provide places for guests to sit down to enjoy their treats.
How Much Guest Space Should An Ice Cream Shop Have?
To understand your floor plans, consider the industry standard for space. According to Total Food Service, it’s a 60/40 model – 60% of the space is used for guests and seating, and 40% is used for prep, the coffee bar, and the kitchen.
Another critical step is calculating the maximum occupancy of your space depending on local building codes. These will vary by the type and location of the building, 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
However, in a small business like an ice cream shop, the model might look a little different. A 1200-square-foot ice cream shop would reserve about 720 square feet of space for guests, and the capacity for a counter service shop would be 40 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 ice cream shop accessible to people with disabilities. Plus, 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.
Outdoor Seating Floor Plan
If you have the luxury of outdoor space, maximize it. A nice patio can attract a different niche of customers to your ice cream shop, and drive additional sales and profits. Plan your outdoor space carefully so that it’s easily accessible to both guests and employees. Make the space an asset to your business, not a burden.
Restrooms Floor Plan
Believe it or not, restrooms are a deciding factor in many people’s choice of shops and restaurants, according to a survey by Zogby International. Designing restrooms that are big enough for all guests and easy to find from dining areas will create an attractive edge to your shop. Avoid requiring guests to move through staff areas to reach the restroom.
Emergency Exits Floor Plan
Like all public buildings, ice cream shops must have a fire and emergency floor plan. Design software can help you adequately map out emergency exit routes. Once your floor plan is completed, be sure to communicate the routes to your staff and clearly mark external exits for customers.
Executing Your Ice Cream Shop’s Floor Plan
Once you craft your ice cream shop’s detailed blueprints and floor plans, it's time to start turning your plans into a reality. Plumbers, architects, electricians, designers, artists, and your staff can all assist you in building the shop of your dreams.
Consulting an interior designer can help you to achieve the specific ambiance and experience you want. They can guide you through painting, decorating, and purchasing furniture that’s functional for your space and suits your shop’s aesthetic.
Installing light fixtures in a commercial space should 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 to your ice cream shop’s space. Trade professionals can ensure your shop is up to code and safe for operation.
It’ll also be important to work with city, county, and state officials for all the proper permits for building and blueprints. 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.
This all may seem like a lot of work to do. But your dream ice cream shop is worth it. So, don’t forget to have fun and be creative! Designing and executing the plans you carefully made for your shop is exciting – pour all of your passion for your shop into the design process and your customers will appreciate it.