Restaurant City on Facebook is an addictive little game from Playfish. In Restaurant City, players start with a tiny, plain restaurant and must master new recipes, trade ingredients and keep customers happy to level up (through gaining Gourmet Points, or GP) and expand.

After almost 2 years of playing, I've put together a few Restaurant City tips and tricks to help newer players out.

Get your layout right

This is the most important thing to get right in the early levels, when it's all about gaining GP and increasing your restaurant's reputation. To maximize the effiency of your layout it's important to understand how waiters move.

A waiter can serve tables all around their current square, including diagonally. However, actually walking diagonally takes them longer than walking in a straight line. They can also be a little bit unruly if you leave any gaps between tables, and go the long way round, so it's best to trap them inside a ring of tables and stoves, an "island layout".

Use shorter opening hours

Leaving your restaurant closed is the most inefficient thing you can do, so always stick to opening hours you can keep up with, but the shorter hours cost less in the long run than longer hours so stick to the shortest you can for maximum benefit.

Keep the game open

You can earn coins while not playing, as long as your restaurant is open, but you'll only earn GP while the game is open so whenever possible just leave it running in another tab.

Use an efficient cook:waiter ratio

The maximum number of staff available changes fairly regularly, additions like the Karaoke Bar and Bowling Alley often add benefits and this is occasionally an extra member of staff. Every time this happens you'll probably find yourself experiementing with the staff assigned to each role but as a general rule of thumb use 1-2 waiters for every cook and you should be alright.

Build your maze

If you find that many customers are leaving due to uncleared plates, you can give your waiters a helping hand by creating a maze layout from the door to the tables. Customers won't get annoyed, no matter how long it takes them to get to a seat, and you buy your waiters some extra time to clear up.

This does slow down your overall turnover of customers so it's something worth experimenting with and deciding on yourself.

Use as many arcade machines as you can afford

Arcade machines prevent your restaurant visitors from leaving as soon as they see that no tables are available. Unhappy visitors decrease your restaurant reputation so this is an easy way to keep things running smoothly.

Check the ingredient stall every day

The majority of Restaurant City players won't want to spend a significant amount of real money purchasing extra ingredients. Luckily, 3 ingredients per day come up on the ingredient stall where you can buy them for game coins.

Once you get past a certain point in the game you're likely to find that you don't have a whole lot to spend coins on, so it's worth stocking up on ingredients when you can. I tend to check the stall every day and buy anything that I currently have under 20 of, since you never know when a new recipe will be introduced that requires that particular ingredient.

Click your trees!

Trees can give coins, so remember to click both your own and those around any friends' restaurants you visit.

Keep an eye out for the Gourmet King

The Gourmet King wanders around the streets of Restaurant City. Clicking him will allow you to post an ingredient, recipe or decoration to your wall for your friends to collect, and you can keep an eye out for Gourmet King posts from your friends.

Don't panic if you get too many customers

Sometimes a high popularity means too many customers to deal with at one time (especially if your layout is more aesthetic rather than efficient). Your reputation will suffer if customers start to leave in droves, but opening up the Redecorate tool and exiting again gets rid of everyone.

Bear in mind this can cause extra litter to turn up, but a couple of clicks and it's gone.

Work on the special events

Every so often a new interactive item of some kind becomes available to learn. As I write this, we're currently working on a Pizzeria, and in the past there have been a Lounge Bar, Sushi Bar, Coffee Bar and more.

Sometimes these are just fun interactive decorations to distract your customers, sometimes they offer a bonus like an extra member of staff, but they're always limited time only and involve mastering multiple recipes.

Try not to get too addicted

Ok so I can't help much with this, but if you figure it out feel free to share. The day you find yourself adding 100 new friends and watching your notifications like a hawk so you can rush off to collect your free ingredients (like me!), you know you're developing a problem ;)