Seating capacity
Food and Beverage

Seating capacity


There are five principal factors affecting cafeteria throughput.

  • Service time –
    the time taken to serve a customer and process payment.
  • Service period –
    actual opening times
  • Till speed –
    the time it takes to calculate and process payment
  • Eating –
    time customer occupies seat
  • Seating capacity

Seating capacity and customer average seating time largely determines queue speed. For example a cafeteria seating 100 with a till speed of serving 8 customers per minute will take 12.5 minutes to fill the cafeteria. Assuming customers occupy a seat for 20 minutes, then it’s reasonable to accept the cafeteria will be full just after the first customers get up to leave. Increase the till time customers won’t have anywhere to sit. Alternatively if slow a till speed the cafeteria fails to maximise profitability.

Think of it this way if customers occupy their seats for longer than the service period you have a choice you can provide more seats or lose customers. If customers take less to time to eat their meal than it takes to serve them then fewer seats are required. However to ensure service waiting times aren’t excessive queues will need to be staggered.

Staffing consideration levels, the required number of open till points, production, clearing, dish washing capabilities.

Determining capacity to match number of till-points

Use till transaction records to calculate customer throughput and the percentage of customers using the seating facility. No available trading records visit local competitors calculate averages and review calculations once trading begins.

Specialised operations such as hospitals, ferry, and airline tray service generally have a capacity limitations plus records or estimates of potential take-up of services for specific locations. Other examples hotel rooms, lounges, home delivery.


Christopher Bird Author