If you’re organising a new business, it’s exciting to get to the stage where you are starting to think about how you want the place to look and what café furniture you will fill it with. A laid-back cafe with slouchy leather sofas might be the look you’re going for, or perhaps you like the idea of using more industrial furniture, with bar stools and large tables.
Off course you’ll design the café to fit your concept, but it is also important when thinking about restaurant design to consider all your potential customers and how to make them as comfortable as possible. People come with widely varying needs, so it’s crucial to consider how you can make the café work well for everyone who may visit, including large, small, young and old people, and people with disabilities, as well. If everyone feels comfortable and welcome, then families and workgroups will come back again and again.
Here are a few things you can do to make your café comfy for all:
It’s likely you’ll have people of all shapes and sizes coming through the door, so it’s wise to have several seating options available so everyone can relax. Make sure that the space between at least some of the tables and seats is adjustable, and avoid chairs with narrow armrests that can cut into women’s hips. Sturdy wooden chairs without armrests, like the Salisbury, are comfortable for almost everyone. However, some older and disabled people appreciate the help that armrests can provide transitioning between a sitting and standing position. It’s also a good idea to have cushions available to support a sore back or to raise the seat height for a smaller person.
When positioning tables throughout the café, you should think about how much space you want to leave between them. It’s tempting to try and cram as many tables in as possible, but this might affect your customers’ enjoyment and comfort—and your waitstaff’s ability to deliver food and collect dishes. Some people may need more room to get around, and often people prefer the privacy afforded by fewer tables. It’s also sensible to make sure the tables are small and can be joined to make bigger ones. This means you can be flexible and change the layout of the café as needed.
People with Children
Screaming children can be the bane of a café owner’s day, but the little ones and their parents have every right to café time and they often prove to be loyal customers. You’ll be every parent’s favourite café if you have a number of highchairs available and perhaps even some child cutlery and plates. They will also love you for providing some pens, papers and perhaps a few books. It is also easier for everyone if there’s a children’s menu available.
Access for Disabled People
Ensuring access for disabled people must be a priority for every café owner. Since 2011, it has been the law in Australia for all new buildings and existing buildings undergoing significant renovation to comply with disability access laws. This includes making sure there is a accessible toilet on the ground floor and having a wide, step-free doorway that a wheelchair can fit through. Make sure you’re aware of these rules when you design your layout.
There is certainly a lot to think about when making sure your café can cater for everyone. But with a little forward thinking and planning, it’s likely you’ll soon have to start turning people away!