Top 5 Restaurant Design and Construction Mistakes

From local dives to Michelin star restaurants, every eatery has been in the design and construction phase at one point, and no matter how different they are once they open their doors and start serving delicious meals, they all face similar challenges at this point in the process. Designing and building a restaurant might seem easy enough, but there’s more potential pitfalls and important details than there might seem at first glance. Both first-timers and people who have started a restaurant before can run into these problems, but at DESCCO building restaurants in Berks County and surrounding areas is one of the things that we do best. Here are five of the biggest restaurant design and construction mistakes that you can avoid to make sure your space is truly great and will leave your diners satisfied.

Inefficient Floor Plans

The way you lay out your floor plan during the restaurant design phase affects so much more than how many tables you can fit and where the kitchen is. Everything from your customers’ experiences to how well your staff can function depends on your floor plan. If you’ve ever been in a restaurant where the host stand isn’t near the door and you have to wander in looking for it, then you’ve experienced the problems this can cause for a customer. Additionally, a poor layout can confuse and trip up your wait staff, both slowing them down physically as they try to navigate and leading to confusion or order mistakes. 

Try to keep high traffic areas clear of tables and other obstacles, make sure order stations are near large banks of tables, and ensure that the host stand and customer waiting area are set up so that customers are helped immediately and have comfortable places to sit if they need to wait.

Visible Service Areas

Anyone who’s worked in the restaurant business knows that no matter how tidy you try to keep the place, a bit of a mess is always inevitable, but that doesn’t mean that your customers need to know about it, especially while they’re trying to enjoy their meal. You and your employees might become accustomed to a mess, but a new person walking in for the first time will notice it right away. During the restaurant fit out process, an experienced restaurant contractor like DESCCO will help you to ensure that everything from the big messy kitchen to the small untidy laundry basket are kept where they can’t be seen.

Having a place to tuck dirty or full bus pans out of sight, keeping trash cans behind counters or closed doors, and ensuring that your dishwashing area is far from customers’ eyes will do wonders for the experience of each of your diners. 

Ignoring Sound and Lighting

Have you ever had dinner in a restaurant where the acoustics are so bad you can’t hear the person right next to you, or where the lighting is so dim that you had to turn your phone flashlight on to read the menu? Lighting and sound are sometimes neglected in restaurant construction, especially by DIYers without much experience, but your customers are going to remember what they heard and saw just as much as what they tasted. They might seem like small details, but lighting and sound are crucial points to consider when planning and building your restaurant. 

You should avoid having tables too close to the noisy kitchen if possible, but there are other ways to control sound. Things like drapes, carpets, couches or other pieces of furniture can help to absorb sound and reduce echoes, while hard surfaces like tile or hardwood can reflect sound into areas that are a little too quiet. Choose your overhead lighting carefully as well, and remember that reflective finishes on tables or floors will make the area seem brighter, just like mirrors on the walls, while more matte finishes will absorb light and make an area seem darker.

Wrong Bar Size

Bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to bars, and depending on your situation, you might not even need one. If you’re going to have a bar, you need to be able to staff it and have the liquor license for it, and you need to be sure there are going to be people sitting at it, because empty bars can make the whole restaurant look dead, something you’ll want to avoid. On the flip side, a bar that’s way too small to handle the average crowd you get can lead to long waits and uncomfortable crowds, meaning there’s no perfect one-size-fits-all for bars.

Consider your staffing situation and customer traffic carefully when choosing a bar. A small six-seater might end up being perfect for you, or maybe you’ll need one much larger.


The biggest mistake you can make in restaurant construction is choosing not to work with an experienced restaurant design and construction company. Even the most innovative do-it-yourself spirit won’t be able to produce the same results that you’ll get from trained professionals. Choosing a trustworthy local restaurant contractor who knows their business is the way to get a beautiful and functional restaurant that will be serving up delicious meals for years to come. 

If you’re looking for an experienced restaurant contractor near Reading, PA, contact DESCCO Design and Construction today! We have over 45 years of construction experience and restaurant industry expertise. We will work with you to help you create a wonderful space.