Form follows function: how to optimize efficiency, customer experience, and financial results through layout and design

If there’s one thing we know, it’s how to develop and manage some of the best bars, restaurants, and nightclubs in the hospitality industry. Success can be defined in many different ways, but one thing is certain, a business has to make money in order to thrive. San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is a highly competitive market with over 150 bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Locals and visitors alike have a large variety of venues to choose from, so if you’re not one of the best in service, ambiance, food, and drink, you won’t survive. Whether we are developing a concept from scratch, or reinvigorating an existing brand, we design and build a variety of venues that optimize efficiency, customer experience, and financial results. Designing a money-maker involves creating functional, visually appealing spaces that flawlessly services your guests and sustains success.

Let’s first dive into a bit of history. Louis Sullivan was the Father of Modern Architecture. He coined “Form Follows Function”, a phrase that RMD Development lives by. This means that the shape and design of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose. This principle applies to virtually all design including bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Developing a successful hospitality venue starts from the ground up…literally. In order to optimize the customer experience within the venue, you must do the following:

  • Maximize space and create desired flow. In other words, make it easy for your guests and staff to get around, and design a space that is functional for dining, dancing, private events, bottle service, etc.
  • Maximize efficiency in operations. Example: If your bar doesn’t have enough wells or POS stations, it will slow your bartender down, and inadvertently cause longer wait times for your guests.

When planning your layout, operational space planning is a critical first step in venue design. Your layout should be designed for optimal functionality, flow, and customer experience. This starts with the operational infrastructure: the location of bars, kitchen, restrooms, bar storage, and service stations. This not only goes for your entire space, but the furniture that you put inside your venue. If you have a nightclub, you want to maximize your bottle service table efficiency in order to cut down on the number of times your server has to go to the bar or kitchen.  Having storage on multiple levels of the table and a pull-out drawer for backup supplies that will help reduce steps for the server which enables him/her to spend more time at the table serving your guests! Another example of this is booths with removable cushions and storage for valuables. After opening several nightclubs in the San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, we realized that no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t keep people from dancing on the booths. We were constantly replacing cushions due to holes made from high heels. So, we redesigned all our bottle service seating areas to have removable cushions with platforms underneath. This way, guests can dance on the booths without ruining the cushions, and the storage is just an added bonus for the customer experience!

People want to be where people are…especially in a nightclub setting. The fuller a place looks, the more guests will want to come and experience a good time. One way to make your business appear busier is by “Shrinking the Field”. Having the option to wall off an area that isn’t being used can make a slower night look busy. This can be done with curtains, spandex, and other room dividers. Having furniture that you can move around is also helpful when you want to encourage people to be in a certain area of your venue.

Read more about space planning here.


Find out more about RMD Group’s bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.

Find out how you can improve your existing venue, or to turn your bar, restaurant, or nightclub dream into a reality with RMD Consulting.


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