Increasing Food Service Earned Income

Planning Food Services Spaces in a
Museum Environment
Benefits of Food Service
• Is an expected amenity
• Can increase length of stay
• Can positively impact gift shop sales and
• Employee/volunteer convenience and morale
• Events can introduce individuals to the facility
• Can generate significant earned income
Visitor Food Service
o May be a café, restaurant, or kiosk, or a
combination thereof
o Serves museum visitor, employees, and
potentially outside patrons
External (Third Party Catering)
• Food and beverage supplied to groups of
diners in conjunction with an event
• Frequently occurs when the facility is closed to
the public
• Is generally the economic driver of the food
service equation
Planning Visitor Food Service
• Level of service (kiosk, café, restaurant) is
frequently dictated by annual attendance
• A museum with attendance of less than
50,000 may get by with a kiosk or small coffee
• A museum with attendance of 1.5 million will
likely have several outlets with different price
Factors that Impact Demand
Length of Stay
Presence of Children
School Groups
Good Wayfinding Signage
Competitive Establishments
Ease of Re-entry
Member and Employee Discounts
Production Methods
• Commissary Support
• Full Cooking or Production Kitchen
• Catering Pantry – different from a Café
Production Kitchen
• Production may be different for visitor food
service and catered events
Factors Influencing Production
• Space Availability – if space is limited a
commissary support approach might be best
• Menu Concept – a menu with grilled or fried
items will require a full production kitchen
• Operating Hours – an operation serving dinner
or seeking to be a destination will likely need a
full production kitchen onsite
• Catering Community – is commissary support
approach supportable
Café Size (Seating Capacity)
• Visitation is frequently seasonal, weekend
oriented, or exhibit driven
• Size to average (non blockbuster) peak day
• Determine average number of visitors arriving
from 10 am to 1 pm
• Consider outside visitors and museum
Café Size (Seating Capacity)
• If peak attendance is 3,000 visitors with 50%
arriving between 10 am and 1 pm assume
15% - 30% of the 1,500 visitors will dine for
lunch in the facility
• This translates to 225 – 450 diners which
requires seating capacity of 75 -150 (three
turns for a café)
• Assume 12 – 15 square feet per person for
seating depending on local fire code
Space Requirements - Kiosk
• Limited to kiosk space and some storage
• Average kiosk 10 – 12 feet long and requires 6
feet of depth
• 60 – 100 square feet with electrical access is
generally sufficient
• Dry and refrigerated storage and hand
washing sink are required nearby
• No food is prepared on site
Space Requirements – Small Cafe
• Small café with front serving counter and back
service counter could measure 20 feet long
with 10 foot depth = 200 square feet
• Assumes primarily ambient temperature items
with limited re heating
• Additional storage of 60 -100 square feet
Small Cafe
Space Requirements – Larger Cafe
• Full service scatter servery (multiple stations)
allocate 16 square feet per person front and
back of house
• 6 square feet servery, 5 back of house, 5
• Café seating 200 would require 5,600 square
feet total (3,200 BOH/Servery, 2,400 seating)
Larger Station Cafe
Support Spaces to Include
Managers Office
Cash Room
Secure Liquor Storage
Lockers and Changing Rooms
Other Considerations
• Will café or restaurant be located in a free
• An outside entrance to a free zone café or
restaurant can double sales
• Identify space for school children with bag
lunches – do not want them sitting in cafe
Additional Destination
A separate dedicated ground floor entrance
with street presence (signage)
The ability to be open for lunch and dinner
and operate independently of museum hours
Activity generators in the near vicinity
Operator needs full control over the
environment (hours, pricing, menu, décor)
Sample Destination Space
• Restaurant seating 100 open for lunch and
• Seating
1,800 square feet
• Back of House/Kitchen 1,100 square feet
• Hostess/Bar/Entry
400 square feet
• Restrooms
200 square feet
• Office Lockers
200 square feet
• Total
3,700 square feet
External Catering
• Museum generates income from venue fee
and percentage of catering food and beverage
• Includes corporate, social (weddings, bar
mitzvahs) and not for profit
• Each type of event has different space needs
Planning Considerations
• If event space is dedicated a slightly off the
path location that allows early set up is ideal
• Consider type of events and plan accordingly
• Social events typically require a separate pre
function space
• Weddings need a small bridal suite with
adjacent restroom
• Conferences need breakout space
Space Requirements
• Cocktail receptions generally require 7 -8
square feet per person depending on fire code
• Seated dinners generally require 15 square
feet per person depending on fire code
• Sight lines are important for a seated dinner
• A 3,000 square foot lobby with no permanent
exhibitions could accommodate about 400
people for a cocktail reception or 200 for a
seated dinner
Sizing Event Spaces
• Research capacities of other cultural
institution event spaces
• Find the hole in the market and size
accordingly if possible
• Sizing to the Museum Gala may not be
Support Requirements
• Most caterers will produce off site
• Catering pantry requirements are 15-20% of
net front of house
• A 6,000 square foot event space requires a
900 - 1,200 square foot catering pantry
• Space cannot be laden with equipment
• Support for each event space should be
identified along with transport routes
Other Considerations
• Identify the serving path and confirm it does
not conflict with guest path
• A busy catering pantry needs two doors (in
and out)
• Ideally restrooms are located in sufficient
quantity on the same floor as the event
• Will the museum purchase tables and chairs?
If so allocate 12% of net front of house space
Other Considerations
• A dedicated event space can significantly
increase demand and earned income potential
• If earned income is important be sure there
are appropriate spaces for simultaneous
internal and external events (inventory)
• If the caterer is exclusive and does significant
business add a meeting/tasting/conference
Final Thoughts for Success
• Prepare a feasibility study/business plan
before beginning schematic design so the
range of possible outcomes is known during
• Gain consensus among stakeholders regarding
concept early on
• Develop institutional policies that support
food service goals

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