The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually every aspect of life, and the restaurant industry is no exception. To ensure the safety of staff and customers, restaurant owners have had to make significant changes to their business models, including altering their restaurant design to meet new health regulations. Let’s look at how the pandemic has changed restaurant design in 2020 and beyond.

Safety Measures in Restaurant

One of the most significant changes to restaurant design due to the pandemic is an increased emphasis on safety measures. This includes installing hand sanitizer stations, Plexiglass shields between tables and booths, contactless payment systems, clear signage outlining rules for social distancing, and more. In many cases, restaurants also ask customers to wear masks while not actively eating or drinking. These safety measures are essential for reducing transmission risk and keeping dining areas clean and comfortable.

Changes to Seating Plans

Another common change that restaurants are making is revamping their seating plans with social distancing in mind. For example, many restaurants are now spacing out tables farther apart and using dividers or partitions to reduce exposure risk even further. Additionally, some restaurants have taken steps such as placing chairs back-to-back at bar-style seating or eliminating bar seating to better enforce social distancing guidelines.

Outdoor Dining Areas

Outdoor dining areas have become increasingly popular in response to the pandemic. Many restaurants have set up outdoor seating options-including umbrellas, tents, canopies, or other structures-to allow customers to dine outdoors while staying safe and socially distant from other guests. Some cities have even gone so far as to temporarily close streets so that businesses can extend their outdoor dining areas into the public space without worrying about traffic disruptions or parking issues. This can also be an opportunity to add design, such as commercial retractable awnings and LED lighting, to make the space more inviting and aesthetically pleasing.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the restaurant industry, especially regarding staffing. Before the pandemic, most restaurants relied heavily on servers and waited for the staff to provide customers with an enjoyable dining experience; however, due to health regulations and lockdowns, many restaurants have had to reduce their staff or even let them go altogether. To accommodate the smaller staff size, restaurants have had to modify their design to streamline operations and make it easier for fewer people to do more work. This includes providing employees with more efficient equipment, such as touchless payment systems and automated dishwashers, as well as rearranging countertops and dining areas.

Dining In and Out

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic shifts in the way restaurants operate. Before the pandemic, dining out was popular, allowing people to socialize and enjoy delicious cuisine together. But the introduction of lockdowns and health regulations have drastically changed how restaurants are being operated and consumer behavior.

Takeouts and Deliveries

Due to the introduction of health regulations and lockdowns, restaurants have been forced to adapt to the changes in consumer behavior. In addition to setting up outdoor dining areas, many restaurants are now offering takeouts and deliveries as an alternative option for customers who don’t feel comfortable going out for a meal due to COVID-19. This has caused restaurants to rethink the design of their kitchens, introduce new storage areas for food items, and implement contactless delivery systems. Additionally, some restaurants are now opting for one-way entrances and exit to reduce the number of people coming in and out of the restaurant at any given time.