Modern Food Court Design Ideas: For Schools, Universities, and Offices

Modern Food Court Design Ideas: For Schools, Universities, and Offices

Author: Dr. Christina Counts

Modern food courts and cafeterias in K-12 schools, universities, and office spaces have transformed into places for more than just eating. While these spaces offer quick and convenient meal options for busy students and employees, they also provide practical spaces for socializing, collaborating, and networking. These important functions of cafeterias play a significant part in building community and a culture of connection in your organization, making it crucial to consider these factors during the food court design process.

When designing food court and café spaces, there are two main elements to focus on: how patrons will select and purchase their food, and where patrons will sit to eat. In modern food courts, it is common for patrons to have multiple options for both choosing their food and choosing where they will eat. With that in mind, we have created a list of five modern food court design ideas to help you create your cafeteria space with these important factors in mind.

Here are five modern food court design ideas:

  1. Café height tables

Tall, café height tables and seating provide flexibility to sit or stand during meal times, which offers a welcome change after sitting at a standard height desk for most of the day. Stools can also take up less space, allowing larger groups to sit together, as well as improving walking paths between tables.

  1. Separate food windows, offering variety

Variety is important in a cafeteria that students and staff will visit daily, as repetitive meal options can deter them from purchasing food court meals. Many schools and offices are finding success designing their cafeterias to mimic mall food courts, with multiple food windows that offer different options in varying categories. Not only does this layout make it possible to add more appealing food options, but it also assists in increasing cafeteria efficiency, as each line has to handle fewer patrons than a single-line cafeteria.

  1. Lounge seating

Implementing lounge seating in food court design helps to transform the space into a more casual and social area for students or employees to connect. It also helps to separate lunch time from learning and working time, which gives students and employees time to decompress and refresh before heading back to their work.

  1. Stackable chairs and stowaway tables

Modern food court design should provide furniture options for multiple uses of the space. Choosing chairs and tables that can be easily stacked and tucked away makes your food court a flexible space that can accommodate a variety of activities both during regular hours and after hours. Mobile furniture pieces can also increase flexibility of your café, making it functional for collaboration, presentations, banquets and more.

  1. Grab-and-go meal choices

Grab-and-go meal options are becoming increasingly popular in school and workplace cafeterias, as they make it easier for patrons in a hurry to make a quick selection while avoiding slower, cafeteria-style lines. These options also keep patrons from being confined to the cafeteria if they would prefer to work elsewhere, such as in their office during a busy day or outside when the weather is nice.

When designing a food court, the biggest consideration is how to make the space work for the patrons it will serve. School cafeterias have different functions than office cafés, and the users of these spaces have differing needs, as well. Choosing the right furniture is key to creating the right space for the students and/or employees who will use the space each day.

Dr. Christina Counts, VP of Strategy and Development for MiEN Environments, is a proven leader with a successful background in transforming learning spaces to modern engaging learning environments. Dr. Counts has worked in education for over 17 years with experience as a classroom teacher, district instructional leader, school administrator, and digital and innovative learning designer. In her most recent position, Christina leads a team of professionals that support schools making the transition to a flexible, collaborative, & student-centered learning space.  She holds a doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership, National Board-certified, and Google & Apple certified. Dr. Counts envisions a learning space in which educators are empowered to transform education through design, technology and innovative instructional pedagogy to create learners ready for any future!