Floorplan FAQ

Some of the most common questions asked of our Market Managers are related to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Accessibility Guidelines.

'Why is that aisle so wide?' 'Why can't we put a booth there?' 'Why did my seating count go down?'

When creating the floorplan for a dining space, considerations must be made to safely accommodate all customers. While it may seem sensible to narrow aisles to add more seats, or to include more booth seating instead of freestanding chairs, the accessibility of an area must always be a consideration.

Guidelines have been put in place to ensure the safety of all customers. ADA's Accessibility Guidelines outline requirements for accessibility to buildings and facilities by individuals with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. These requirements are to be applied during the design, construction, and alteration of buildings and facilities.

While there are additional requirements which may vary from state to state and type of location, here are some general pointers to keep in mind for your space. Be sure to consult a professional for your project.

Aisle Width

ADA Guidelines generally require a minimum width of 36' (3 feet) for aisle space, making it a clear passageway for customers.


At least 5% of the chairs must be accessible, meaning that there should be some freestanding chairs in lieu of booth seating, making it possible to accommodate a wheelchair. ADA requires that handicap seating must be dispersed throughout the space.


Must be designed to accommodate knee clearance requirements and height requirements. Where seating spaces for people in wheelchairs are provided at fixed tables or counters, knee space of at least 27' high, 30' wide, and 19' deep, must be provided. (ADAAG 4.32.4). The tops of accessible tables and counters must be from 33' to 35' above the finished floor or ground. (ADAAG 4.32.4)

Door Clearances

Depending on the location of doorways, minimum space requirements are in place to ensure a door can be easily opened. The nearby space should be clear of trash units, chairs or other objects within 12'- 24' on the 'push side' of a door, and 18'-42' on the 'pull' side of a door.

Ceiling Elements

For hanging banners or other décor, there must be at least 80' between the bottom of the element and the floor.

Wall Décor

As a general rule, nothing may extend off of a wall more than four inches. This includes wall sconces. Keep this in mind when selecting your lighting and decorative elements!

Things to remember:

  • Many times, a re-designed space may be able to accommodate more customers, especially in a school setting, by optimizing the seating configuration and traffic flow. However, in some cases, for example, a retrofit of an existing restaurant, the space must comply with current codes and requirements, which may necessitate some adjustments to the layout.
  • ADA requirements arenotoptional.
  • Guidelines vary from franchise to franchise and market to market. Some franchises may call for more stringent standards than outlined in ADA guidelines. State and Local codes may contain additional requirements. Be conscious of this throughout the process to ensure a smooth project completion.

ISI's Design Team of NCIDQ and LEED(r) (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professionals would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to leave a note here or send us a message at cs@isiamerica.com.

Get more details at the ADA Accessibility Guidelines Homepage

Enjoy the article so far? Recommend it to your friends and peers.

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