When you enter a restaurant for the first time, your first impression isn't determined by the quality of the food being served or the friendliness of the staff. Your first impression is determined by the ambiance of the dining area, and this is true for every customer that walks into your own restaurant. So whether you are starting a big renovation or are in the early stages of opening a new restaurant, these five tips can help create a welcoming ambiance for a positive first impression.
Practicality Comes First
Before you buy even one table, chair, or paint can, make sure that they are designed to withstand the wear and tear of long-term everyday use. Commercial grade restaurant table bases and tops, chairs, fabrics, and even decorative items like throw pillows will last a lot longer than non-commercial products and tend to be easier to clean. Also, check out your state and local regulations on seating capacity, so you don't end up with too many chairs for your dining area and more hours of re-arranging.
Choose a Theme and Stick to It
How do you want your customers to feel when they walk through your doors? Relaxed? At home? Or as if they have walked through a time portal and arrived in a simpler world? This feeling should be reflected in every color you choose for your palette and every style of furniture you place in your dining space.
Use Interesting Colors
Just because a room is meant to be classy, warm, and/or sophisticated doesn't mean you have to stick only to grays, browns, and blacks. A splash of color in artwork on the walls, a patterned throw rug, or a stunning floral arrangement can create more aesthetic interest without ruining the overall theme. Bold colors like rusty orange, sunflower yellow, or eye-catching coral add warmth and interest, while cooler blues and greens create a relaxing and contemplative environment. Also, if you are working with a large space, darker colors will help each individual table feel more personal, while light colors can open up smaller rooms.
Pay Special Attention to Lighting
How many times have you walked into a well-designed restaurant with poorly thought-out lighting? Too many, most likely. A room without enough lighting can make even the most sophisticated design feel a bit like a dim and smoky barroom, but lights that are too bright can feel invasive. Whenever possible, take advantage of the natural light with large windows and sheer curtains. Otherwise, dim overhead lighting and soft lamps or sconces at every table is likely the best option. You may also consider using mirrors to reflect light throughout a large room and to create the illusion of more space in tighter corners.
Invite Nature Inside
We can't all have dining areas in whimsical garden courtyards, of course, but blurring the lines between indoors and out even a little bit invites a sense of refreshment to every space. From large potted trees to hanging greenery, elegant flower arrangements to small and trendy herb displays, there are dozens of ways to invite nature in. No matter how you want your finished space to look and feel, it can always benefit from the right choice of natural influence. The Green Restaurant Association can give you more ideas for incorporating nature into your design.
Marquis Fore has been involved in a number of restaurant and retail startups. He likes to share his industry insights with others online and is a regular contributor on a number of B2B websites.