Great food and friendly service can make a restaurant, but poor design can break it as well. Never underestimate the value of ambiance. Even if diners love your menu, they’ll take their business elsewhere if the music is too loud or the space isn’t comfortable.
Restaurant designs should invite your guests to relax, enjoy conversation, and feel at home. You also want to keep in mind, though, how long you want guests to stay in your restaurant. In this deep dive, we’ve shared some common-sense suggestions for designing your restaurant, so that the dining experience is as pleasant as possible. Every restaurant has its own aesthetic, but these general tips will help you develop an inviting design that won’t feel outdated in 6 months.
Get People in the Door with a Welcoming Entrance
Everyone understands the importance of a good first impression, and this is certainly true when trying a new restaurant. Your entrance area should have welcoming lighting, flowers, and attractive décor that brings guests into your world. If you have outdoor seating or signage, make sure that it reflects your restaurant theme as well, because it’s the first thing that diners will see. You also want to make sure you name your establishment something that people will have an idea of what you serve.
Make the Most of Problem Areas
Every restaurant has a few “problem areas” that detract from the dining experience in some way. It might be a table near the kitchen, bathrooms, or just a cramped section of the restaurant that feels claustrophobic. One way to alleviate these areas is by placing plants or wooden dividers around the tables, so that they feel separated from the surrounding chaos. You can also repurpose a problem area as your bus station, so that you spare diners the pain of sitting there. To find out which tables are potential problem areas, sit in every chair and note when something unpleasant happens.
Choose an Appropriate Color Scheme
Colors can make a restaurant feel completely different, depending on how warm, cool, bright, or dim they are. For instance, if you’re opening a large bistro, you might want to select warm colors to create a more intimate vibe. Likewise, if you’re working with a tiny dining room, you can make it feel larger with a light color palette. Some colors are just generally bad for restaurant interiors, such as bright yellow and purple. For some restaurateurs who don’t have experience with interior design, it might be worth hiring a specialist to help you put together a powerful color scheme that makes sense.
Keep the Space Cool and Ventilated
Smart restaurant designs should focus just as much on heating and cooling systems as they do on décor. Almost every restaurant kitchen puts out a lot of smoke, oil, and heat. You need proper ventilation and fans to ensure that your ovens don’t send smoke or bad smells into the dining area. Meanwhile, your design should have strong, reliable air conditioning for those sweltering summer months, and a heating system that keeps temperatures consistent throughout the winter chill. Making sure you have good ventilation and can keep a comfortable temperature is as important in the front of house as it is in the back of house! You want to make sure your customers and your kitchen staff are comfortable.
Don’t Stuff Seating at the Expense of Design
It’s tempting to fill a restaurant with as many tables and seats as possible, especially if you’re busy. However, you should never pack in customers to the point where they clearly feel uncomfortable. Doing this will reflect poorly on your reputation, because even if your food is incredible, diners will tell their friends and post negative reviews about how cramped the restaurant was. Just try to strike a balance between a profitable seating arrangement and a welcoming atmosphere, and you should be golden.
Analyze Your Kitchen Layout Before Buying Equipment
Your kitchen is the beating heart of your restaurant. Without a fully functional and efficient kitchen, it doesn’t matter how well-designed the entrance area and dining room are. You should carefully consider the kitchen layout, including how many stations you’ll need, where each piece of commercial equipment will go, and how much space you’ll have for refrigeration and storage. Think about all the potential pitfalls you may have in your space, so that you’re not blindsided during a hectic service.
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