How to Design a Restaurant: Aisle Space, Work Surfaces, Accessibility

Aisle Space

Designing a restaurant can be somewhat like designing a network of roads. Tough we really consider 'traffic' in any building or structure we design, traffic inside the restaurant is more complicated and needs more attention. Aisles which are too narrow can slow down production while on the other hand, aisles which are too wide are a waste of space. We can not just guess how much space a certain aisle needs. It need some analysis. However, we can use some standard measurements food service facility designers use.

  • Major traffic aisles are aisles used for the movement of people and materials from storage to production areas or from production areas to the point of service. They require 4-6 feet (1.2 – 1.8 m) width.
  • An equipment with protruding door should never be located in a major traffic aisle that is only 4 feet (1.22 m) wide.
  • An aisle 6 feet (1.83 m) wide can accommodate a refrigerator door or other protruding equipment.
  • Single aisle with limited equipment – 2 feet 6 inches to 3 feet 0 inches (0.76 to 0.91 m)
  • Double aisle with limited equipment – 3 feet 6 inches to 4 feet 6 inches (1.1 to 1.4 m)
  • Single aisle with protruding equipment – 3 feet 6 inches to 4 feet 6 inches (1.1 to 1.4 m)
  • Double aisle with protruding equipment – 4 feet 6 inches to 6 feet (1.4 to 1.8 m)
  • Aisle with little traffic – 3 feet 0 inches to 4 feet 0 inches (0.9 to 1.2 m)
  • Aisle with major traffic – 4 feet 0 inches to 6 feet 0 inches (1.2 to 1.8 m)

Work Surfaces

A properly designed work surface is a key factor to the productivity, and ultimately, the success of a restaurant. The worker or cook must be able to move with ease making it more effective in production. Listed below are some key points to consider.

  • In production areas, table tops are often 30 inches (760 mm) wide because the average worker can reach out only 30 inches (760 mm) from a standing position.
  • The height of the work surface must allow the worker to do different tasks without stooping over.
  • Standard work surface height used by most designers is 34 to 37 inches (864 to 940 mm).
  • Variations in height may be created through cutting boards on the table (increase height), mats on the floor (decrease height) or adjustable table feet.


In every structure, persons with disabilities must always be considered. Discrimination is a big NO. Accessibility must be present with every plan you make. Below are some guidelines (based on the Americans with Disabilities Act) we could use.

  • Aisle Width: All accessible fixed tables Shall be accessible by means of an access aisle at least 36 inches (915 mm) clear between uneven edges of tables or between a wall and the table.
  • Dining Areas: In new construction all dining areas, including raised or sunken dining areas, loggias, and outdoor seating areas will be accessible.
  • Foodservice Lines: Foodservice lines will have a minimum clear width of 36 inches (915 mm) , with a preferred clear width of 42 inches (1065 mm) to allow passage around a person using a wheelchair. Tray slides shall be mounted no higher than 34 inches (865 mm) above the floor.

There you go. Three critical parts that play a major factor in the success of the restaurant you are designing. Always remember to pay attention to every detail!