In a 2009 study in a New York restaurant, the recently closed Public in SoHo, Robson found that diners spent less time and less money at seats that were close together. Customers with 12 inches between tables stayed an average of 110 minutes and spent 73 cents a minute. Those with six inches between tables stayed an average of 102 minutes and spent 66 cents a minute.
Designers find themselves trying to serve two masters: restaurant owners eager to maximize floor space and diners who might enjoy some elbow room — or not, says architect Herb Heiserman, managing principal with Streetsense, whose restaurant clients include All-Purpose, the Columbia Room, the Dabney and other hot spots around Washington. “Not everybody looks for a private zone,” he says. Some diners see restaurants as an extension of their families, he adds, and don’t mind the closeness.BACK TO LATEST