You’ve chosen the space – now how do you create the perfect, profitable restaurant? All restaurants sell an atmosphere as well as the food, so design is critical to the success of your venture. As you’re creating your space, you’ll be imagining the perfect meal that you want your guests to enjoy and developing the setting that will enhance that dining experience. Here are 5 all too common mistakes to avoid.
1. The wrong design for your audience
Too many restaurants have a mismatch between their design and their customers’ needs. In some cases, an unexpected demographic will emerge to become a key factor – maybe you thought you were opening a family restaurant, but office workers dominate or vice versa. Whatever the reason, it’s essential to cater to your actual clients, whether that means making space for buggies or getting rid of the play area.
2. Only one lighting pattern
Many restaurants go through multiple demographic shifts in a day. They may start with tourists having brunch, move through office workers to shoppers and mums dropping in for coffee and cake then on to after work drinks and romantic dinners. Lighting is the easiest way to change the atmosphere in a space, so it’s important to have multiple settings on offer. At minimum, you should have a ‘day’ mode (generally bright and sunny, boosting the natural light) and a ‘night mode’ (typically darker, creating more a more intimate dining experience).
3. It’s far too loud!
How is noise a design feature? Hard, shiny surfaces such as ceramic tiles and metal reflect sound as well as light, increasing the din in a room. That’s why bathrooms and swimming pools have that noisy echo. Softer materials, particularly fabrics, absorb and dampen sound, reducing noise levels in the room. For this reason, it’s essential to include sound absorbers in even the most minimalist settings so your customers can hear themselves talk. Windows are a strongly reflective, but curtains (even when open) will help reduce the effect.
4. Unnatural spaces
Human beings have certain instinctive preferences, and as a general rule find it hard to relax in spaces that are too large, too small or too crowded. If you visit a successful mega-restaurant or mega-pub, you’ll see that the enormous floor space has numerous visual breaks, such as plants, columns and other features, that divide it into more intimate dining areas. Likewise, small restaurants will make use of the same techniques to create a visual divide between tables that would otherwise be so close that the guests could easily share a bottle of wine.
5. Mops in the open
Most guests unconsciously imagine that the food appears on their plate by magic, untouched by human hands. They want to think that the restaurant is a perfectly hygienic, pristine environment. While seeing a chef spin pizza dough, toss scallops in a pan or flambé a dish can add to the magic, the mundane details should not be on show. Arrange your space such that all practical matters are quickly whisked out of sight – no dirty dishes in a heap, no glimpse into the pot room, no cleaning supplies by the bathroom door.
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