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A well-designed workplace restaurant can improve well-being and productivity by enticing staff from their desks, says Damon Brown.


03 June 2019 | Damon Brown


1. Give it space

Many underestimate the space needed for a good-quality workplace restaurant that staff want to visit regularly. 

Not only is space needed for dining areas – a large percentage of the overall footprint must be dedicated to kitchen equipment to offer a diverse menu with fresh ingredients prepared on site.

It is easy to forget the basics when considering restaurant layout, but they must be factored into the initial design process to guarantee that 

a successful dining space is created. 

There isn’t a hard and fast formula for calculating how much space you require, as it often depends on the type of food you’re offering and how often deliveries are expected.

However, let’s talk about a ‘typical’ staff catering offer with prime cooking: three hot choices/deli/salad bar/soup /grab and go.Based on 400 people on site and a 150-seater restaurant, the following should be considered:

Seating: 225m2 or 1.5m2 a person

Circulation: 50m2

Servery: 75-100 m2

Kitchen: 100-150 m2

Remember: We appreciate the ideal isn’t always a reality, but getting close to it will benefit staff.  

2. Collaborate and listen

Collaborating with the catering provider at the start of the design process will lead to a better breakout space. 

Key considerations during the discussion include:

Hours and shifts: Will people want to eat breakfast and lunch at work?

Type of food: Grab-and-go options such as sandwiches and salads versus a cooked daily meal? 

Self-serve: Do staff want a barista-style coffee service or to make their own hot drinks elsewhere in the office? 

Additionally, consult staff before design and installation, as this will make them more likely to use the space because the design meets their needs.

Remember: Incorporate an element of company culture in the design but not too much. The restaurant should be a getaway from work and a space for employees to recharge in a comfortable setting, eating a nutritious meal.

3. Stay on trend

Provide seasonal food and that which is on trend to keep staff excited about the options. It’s important to keep an eye on what’s happening on the high street and to provide variety. 

As people become more adventurous and familiar with other cultures through travel, cookbooks and cookery shows on television, the demand for exotic dishes is increasing and this needs to be reflected within the menus on offer. 

Remember: A baked potato or sandwich won’t cut it anymore. Think instead about meals with American Cajun, Caribbean jerk spices or Korean dishes as examples.

4. Flexible well-being

The space needs to be flexible. It is a catering area, of course, but also a space for informal meetings, team huddles and socialising. So seating arrangement and overall aesthetics are important. Being aware of these requirements during design will also help improve the impact of well-being that the restaurant can provide. 

Remember: The space is as much about food as it is about interacting and relaxing. It’s not just an extension of workplace but a recharge area.

5. Tally your numbers

Knowing the likely footfall is essential to plan the space, including seating and kitchen equipment requirements. Accurate predictions of the number of diners often depends on how much the employer subsidises the offering. Generally speaking, the lower the 

tariff from staff, the more they will use it.

There’s a misconception that healthy food is expensive; it isn’t. Porridge, for example, is one of our least expensive breakfast options – but it’s also one of our most popular.

Remember: Businesses that put the bottom line above everything else just end up with a caterer that is financially bound to create bad food.  

Damon Brown is co-founder of Olive Catering Services