restaurant interior design
The impression that a restaurant’s interior design creates often is the critical factor in deciding if a customer’s experience is positive or negative. In general, good dining experiences come from customers feeling “at home” or comfortable in whatever the setting is. The food also has to feel “at home” with the interior.
So, a restaurant’s interior design is the clothing of a restaurant, both interior and exterior. It is important to be dressed well and appropriately. For new customers, the environment they dine in affects their assessment of the restaurant. This is literally the first thing they see. For example, at the second location of AYZA Wine and Chocolate Bar, customers encounter an intoxicating romance with plush red cushions, dim dramatic light, hardwood floors and large windows out onto the street. The mix of shadow and light set the tone for customers. It brings to life the chocolate and wine that draws people into AYZA. It also is an ideal environment for dates. In interior design, you should account for the type of occasion of the customer visit (whether in families, with friends, for lunch, etc.).
Customers are very conscious on the totality of the space and the message the restaurant is trying to convey. Accordingly, designing the interior space should be done with care and forethought. Let’s set up a few principles to see how they apply to different situations in regards to design. I have article just focusing on floor plan and how that makes your restaurant work as a well-oiled machine. Also, I do include an article about choosing an interior designer (something you should definitely look into). In this article, I will concentrate on what looks good and goes together even though the arrangement is related.
If you have the budget, you should see if you can find an interior designer. An interior designer in the restaurant industry knows what to expect. Also it is more likely that you get the design right the first time. Overall it normally makes the process go much more smoothly.
Step 1: Set the Scene of Your Concept
Owners should have a strong vision for the interior of their restaurant before they get started and commit to contractors. Your concept matters. Orient Express is a cocktail bar that builds on the legendary rail. Understandably, the interior has a certain opulence and recalls a bygone age. At its most basic, the wood panel walls, a white marble bar, a vaulted ceiling and warm lighting make you feel like you are at the bar of the Orient Express as it barrels across Europe towards Asia. You may not know actually what will match with your concept, but you should have a visual sense, like the owner of Orient Express. You should imagine how you will fill your space with basic elements like light, coloring and space.
Do not forget that you should not ignore the strengths and weakness of your space, such as the window placement and the walking space. We often see restaurateurs making basic mistakes, especially with lighting. In general, work with light not against it. During both the day and the night, windows are your allies (especially if they face the sun), even if their light does not reach very far into the restaurant. The natural lighting of the restaurant should be your starting point when you decide what lights should make up your restaurant. The point is that you have to find the best way to design your location. The moment you sign a lease this is no longer some fantasy restaurant.
Step 2: Scout the Competition
One way to avoid that expense and envision your restaurant is to scope out similar restaurants and determine what aspects you will mimic and the parts that will be unique to your restaurant. You should break down these scouting reports into categories, like lighting, walls, ceilings, chairs and tables. This provides you the opportunity to tell what works and what doesn’t, as frequently every interior design has strengths and weakness. Beware, making the interior of a restaurant completely original normally takes an enormous amount of effort and money even for a trained professional. There is nothing wrong with borrowing good ideas.
Step 3: Decide on a Budget and Schedule
Money and time should be not be far from your thoughts when designing your restaurant’s interior. Obviously you need to budget out expenses. It is a good idea to start with the fixed elements, like walls, floors, ceilings, lighting etc. You will need to get quotes for these, so budget and schedule them first. Then you can move on to tables, chairs and other movable objects.
After you have a good idea of what you want, you should formulate an in-depth, realistic schedule. Take into consideration some short delays and unexpected problems, but all your agreements should have consequences for unnecessary delay. Once you decide on your materials and what it should look like. You need to be able to communicate it. For pre-fabricated things like chairs and tables, this is a matter of selection. Some things to keep in mind, don’t jump at the first thing you see when it comes to pre-fabricated parts of your interior. The overall feeling (which influences mood) of the room is determined by the light, floors, walls and arrangement of fixed structures. These are much harder and more expensive to change if they don’t fit with the tables/chairs/table cloth/napkins/curtains etc.
Step 4: Find Contractors and Suppliers
You will entrust your contractors to fabricate parts of your restaurant. Doing your research and looking at their prior work in person will help to ensure that you choose a contractor that does a satisfactory job. For big projects, such as the electrical or flooring, you should put everything in writing. The contract that you sign should be a collaborative effort and protect you against anything that does not happen according to plan. So there aren’t any surprises or conflicts, you need an accurate quote, conceptual drawings and blueprints (some contractors assist you with this) so it is clear what you expect. Costs should be assessed beforehand and also the procuring of the necessary materials with time to spare. This goes along with setting up a schedule. If possible, you can build in penalties if your contractors don’t finish in a reasonable amount of time.
Step 5: Decision Time: Element by Element
This is the moment of truth where you have to integrate everything before you spend your money. It is important to focus on the customer experience at this point and find a balance between what is interesting, practical and comfortable that matches your brand. You may find yourself being more subtle than you originally planned.. The floor, whether tile or wood, the ceiling, whether it has a chandelier or hanging lamps, the walls, whether they have a solid color or a design, affects the mood of your customers. In particular, the colors that you choose and lighting send subconscious signals to customers. You should think this out. No one likes eating breakfast in a dark room. Bright rooms in the middle of the night can agitate customers. It is going to be hard to imagine the finished result so do all you can to visualize the interplay between different elements. You can bring the kind of table you are likely to buy to showrooms to test out the flooring or lighting.
Step 6: Feng Shui (Arranging Everything) and Finishing Touches
Of course, the arrangement of space contributes to mood, as what people are looking at and how close they are to other people change their experience. We will go deeper into that in the floorplan article. Putting on the finishing touches is important. The things, that one normally wouldn’t notice at first glance can really add to the experience. There is something incredibly charming when you see something that you missed originally that perfectly fits the atmosphere. A sculpture put in a niche or a subtle design in a tile floor communicates to customers that your restaurant is a genuine article, from bathroom sink to window handles. I wouldn’t overwhelm your restaurant with touches. But a sense of taste in interior design suggest that you have a sense of taste that can make customers more open to your food.
Interiors are not cheap. They are one of the main reasons restaurants don’t normally turn a profit in the first 2 years. Whether you DIY (do it yourself) or hire help, it is something that you have to live with. Just as important, it is integral to your brand. It’s a balancing act nonetheless. Before, during and after, you should budget it (including maintenance especially places with fountains, etc.). Compromises come with the territory. However, a good interior makes a clear statement that appeals to customers while not distracting them from their companions and the food. The room itself is the real appetizer for customers, not the food on the menu.