Managing restaurant capacity effectively includes making sure that the dining room is equipped with sufficient tables of the appropriate size and type to meet expected demand. Restaurateurs usually make a point of seating parties at the right-size table to maximize seat utilization, and some restaurants set tables fairly close together to make the best use of the available floor space. We examined whether providing guests at a full-service restaurant in New York City with extra personal space improved their satisfaction and meant increased spending or longer lengths of stay. Guests seated at tables that were larger than necessary (that is, parties of two seated at four-tops) did not have significantly different perceptions of satisfaction or spending behavior from those seated at right-size tables (that is, at deuces). However, parties at closely spaced tables reported significantly reduced satisfaction, as well as lower spending per minute when compared with widely spaced tables. Patrons dining at this New York restaurant seemed uncomfortable when tables were set as close as seventeen inches apart, and were more satisfied when the distance was closer to a yard apart. These findings, which apply to the dinner period at a fine-dining restaurant, offer support for the practice of seating parties at appropriately sized tables, and suggest that restaurant operators give careful consideration to the spacing of tables in the dining room.
Robson, S. K. A., & Kimes, S. E. (2009). Don’t sit so close to me: Restaurant table characteristics and guest satisfaction [Electronic article]. Cornell Hospitality Report, 9(2), 6-16.