A restaurant relies on its menu, for sure, but research suggests an eatery needs to look as good as its dishes taste. A recent study from the University of Denver, for instance, found restaurant customers were more influenced by ambiance and service than the food quality. Past National Restaurant Association surveys also have seen atmosphere topple menu options as the key factors behind a diner's restaurant choice.
Expect the trend to continue. In fact, expect restaurant design to become more important than ever before. Thanks to Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, diners are apt to snap — and share-worthy decor can help attract new customers.
How can you design a restaurant guaranteed to draw (and retain) a crowd? Your options will vary, based on concept, type of establishment and budget, but here are a few basic rules of thumb to keep in mind.
1. Be Authentic
Innovation is cool, but don't let the pressure to be different come between you and your vision. Instead, allow your personality to dictate your concept, menu and design; that authenticity will shine through.
2. Keep the Layout Operational
Sure, a giant fountain or statue may seem like the perfect dining room centerpiece, but if it's coming between the servers and the kitchen, expect it to do more harm than good. The best restaurant designs stand out without sacrificing flow and functionality.
3. Avoid Going Overcapacity
It's tempting to cram in as many tables and chairs as your space allows, but carefully consider how close you want to come to maximum occupancy limits. An overly crowded dining room can look messy, make a server's life harder, and turn away diners looking for a little privacy.
4. Turn on the Music
According to the National Restaurant Association, music helps set the mood — and drives profit. That's not to say you should go out and hire a live band (in fact, that's probably a bad idea), but it's worth devoting some time and thought to your restaurant's soundtrack and sound system.
5. Curb the Clutter
When in doubt, keep things sleek and simple. That rule applies to everything from your color palette (warm tones, like brown and beige, are a good go to choice) to your server uniforms. (Waiter Wallet can help servers appear polished and stay organized.) To help hide untidy areas, consider partitions.