IHOP UHOP's Guide to Efficient Restaurant Layouts


Hello! At the IHOP UHOP restaurant, we pride ourselves on squeezing every last gourmet point of out of our staff before they collapse from exhaustion! This guide will show you how to build efficient and effective restaurant layouts to maximize your bottom line!

Note: This guide only covers single "island" layouts, which are easier to build but not as efficient as multiple island layouts. If you're feeling adventurous (or you are "hardcore") and don't mind a bit of extra work, go check out my Guide to Multiple Island Layouts.

Basic Strategies

1. Don't make your waiters walk
The less your waiter walks, the more time he spends serving and the less time he spends getting there.

2. Too many tables!
Resist the urge to add as many tables as you can afford. If you have too many tables and not enough cooks, you won't get the food out fast enough! I find that you should only offer 3 tables for each cook you have.

3. Center your stoves
Keep your stoves centered. A food order from any table can go to any stove. Don't keep all your stoves clustered in one area.

4. Use corners
Your waiter can service in all 8 directions, so use corners as much as possible to give him the most reach.

5. Box waiters in
Form a complete square or rectangle using your tables to trap the waiters in. This way, they don't wander around needlessly to serve food.

6. Avoid the walls
Don't set your tables and chairs against a wall or the grass:

Customers aren't very courteous and they refuse to scoot in! The 3 empty seats shown above will always remain empty because the two customers block them off.

Advanced Strategies

7. Count steps
A good, quick rule of thumb to judge a layout's efficiency is to ask yourself: how many steps maximum do my waiters have to take?

Both these layouts have the same number of tables and stoves, but one is more efficient! Which one?

The answer is the first one, because waiters only have to travel a maximum of 2 steps. In the second one, waiters have to travel a maximum of 3.

8. Avoid diagonals
Look closely at your waiters' speed, you can actually see that they move slower diagonally! It takes 1.4 times longer to cross a tile diagonally than to cross it up, down, left, or right (but it is still faster than going through 2 tiles!). Whenever possible, within reason, try to remove diagonals from your waiters' path.

9. A Note on "Island" Layouts
You'll sometimes see restaurants that have two or more "islands", each island having their own cooks and waiters, like this one:

These islands are very effective, because smaller designs (with less cooks and tables) are much more efficient than bigger, bulkier designs. However, they're also more difficult to create. I've written a Guide to Island Layouts, but this guide will focus strictly on traditional designs since these are easier.

Recommended Layouts

All right, enough talk, here are my recommended layouts!

2 Cooks, 1 Waiter

3 Cooks, 1 Waiter
(Special thanks to Orphaen)

3 Cooks, 2 Waiters
Keep the same layout as above (3 Cooks, 1 Waiter), because you'll need more cooks to handle more tables.

4 Cooks, 2 Waiters

5 Cooks, 2 Waiters

What to do when you have 8 staff
Congratulations, you now have a full staff! If you've come this far, you should really consider using island layouts instead, since it's hard to make an efficient 8 staff "traditional" layout. Check out my guide on Island Layouts.