How to Create a Remarkable Restaurant Ambiance

How to Create a Remarkable Restaurant Ambiance

Most restaurant owners would agree that it’s important to set the right tone by creating a good ambiance in a restaurant space. But what does that mean? Restaurant ambiance is a pinnacle of good business design. When it comes to how to create ambiance in a restaurant, having the right mindset helps.

Our people have the actual restaurant experience to weigh in on what ambiance is, and why it’s important, as we return to in-person dining post-pandemic.

What is Ambiance?

The ambiance of a restaurant involves its atmosphere in terms of the five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. We tend to focus on the first two almost exclusively, but there is some crossover in terms of how to set up the best restaurant environment. Here are some helpful components of restaurant ambiance to think about as you design your space.

Restaurant Concepts and Themes

What is your restaurant about?

Yes, you can say that you’re just creating a generic type of restaurant like a diner space, the same way someone like Jason Alexander might say that Seinfeld was a show about “nothing.”

However, many restaurants attempt to tell a story with a specific concept, whether that’s an Italian eatery, a restaurant with an American wild West theme, or a family restaurant or some type of gourmet paradise. The themes that you can choose really run the gamut, from kitschy and colloquial to elevated fine dining. The key is to tell a story with your space and immerse diners in a particular narrative.


How to Create a Remarkable Restaurant Ambiance
Restaurant Furniture

What type of tables and chairs will you have in a dining space? Do you want very standard tables and booths with a look that’s familiar to diners? Or something more special and unusual, like larger carved wood chairs, or more padded seating?

What you choose is going to add to the visual style of your restaurant dining room.


In restaurant ambiance, lighting really makes a difference. In general, many restaurant owners do not like extremely bright lighting for a number of reasons.

Dimmer lighting sets a particular mood, and also allows people to focus more on their interactions and less on small details.

Tableware and Cutlery

How to Create a Remarkable Restaurant Ambiance
Tableware for Restaurants

Again, you might want to go generic, or you might want to go wild, with large-tined forks and sharp knives. Just remember: safety first!

Color Palette

In certain ways, a restaurant is like a website. One of the best examples is the power of choosing a particular color palette to set the stage for a cool dining experience.

Many restaurants work to set a color palette according to branding, and according to what makes sense psychologically for diners. Hot colors like red and yellow are widely seen as more likely to make people hungry, and so they are common additions to both fast food environments and higher-class dining establishments.


Some of the best and most sophisticated restaurants invest in live music, but others simply pipe music in.

In many cases, it’s advisable to lower the volume of music until it becomes a calm background supplement to the natural noise you expect in a restaurant. Blaring music can turn diners off. You can also choose the type of music that you want to play according to the overall concept and theme of the restaurant, as discussed above.

Menu Card Design

How to Create a Remarkable Restaurant Ambiance
Risch Deluxe Clear Sewn Single Menu Cover, 8-1/2″ x 11″

In so many ways, the physical menu is a key setting for your dining space. Even if everything else is fairly generic, a well-designed menu card shows off your cuisine and your concept to your visitors.


Some interior elements are designed to make a restaurant space look clean and modern. Or to take the other side of this, renovating away dirty tile or baseboard or other older infrastructure can really improve the look and feel of a dining space.

The Right Staff

Many experienced restaurant owners would say that it’s important to hire the staff who will support your vision – both in terms of concept and theme and ambiance, and in terms of food quality. The best servers, for example, have a sense of showmanship that adds to their professional acumen. The best cooks and chefs have a sense of plating that can elevate your cuisine.

Hire accordingly.

Think about all of these components of ambiance to give your restaurant the attention it deserves. Look to Chefs’ Toys to bring your restaurant design ideas to life.