In many ways, running a restaurant is like directing a play. There are the rehearsed lines and actions – Good evening, sir, please take a seat; today’s special is... There are the costumes, the white shirts and waistcoats; and there is the stage itself, one large open-plan performance area scattered with tables, housing a hundred expectant audience members waiting for the show to begin. Restaurants even follow a three-act structure, with starters, mains, and desserts, so it makes sense that the right kind of interior design – or set design, for the purpose of this metaphor – is a vital investment for any business owner looking to immerse their customers in a unique dining experience.
Designing the right interior for your restaurant is equally rewarding and challenging, as you want to communicate to your diners the defining characteristics of your business while also making it welcoming and comfortable. Interior design is one of the most effective tools available to a restauranteur looking to present their personality, and really set themselves apart from any other competing business. Mastering attractive, inviting interior design is one of the best ways to get your restaurant noticed, but it is a tricky art to master. To help you stay on track with the chairs you’re choosing, and to steer you away from those bright yellow curtains you liked the look of, here are some key points to consider when designing the interior of your restaurant.
Promote local artists
This extends beyond the canvases on the wall, as you’ll want to consider showcasing artists who play music as well as those that paint. If your restaurant has any outdoor patio space where a small stage could be erected, this is an ideal location for a local band to perform to your patrons. The benefits of this are twofold, as you will not only be giving your guests dinner and a show; but also winning a new customer base, as fans of the musical act you’re hosting will come to your establishment to see them perform. And they'll probably be hungry...
But when it comes to decorating the inside of your restaurant, it’s a great idea to utilize local artists as you will be seen to be investing in the community spirit of the town or zip code wherein your business is based. Whether you purchase the previously produced works of a local artist, or commission them to produce a mural that will live behind the bar, this is a great way to liven up the atmosphere of your business. The ultimate goal here is to so completely engage your customers’ interest that they eventually call over one of the servers to enquire about the mural they can see from their table or the painting fastened to the wall above their head.
When they are told that it has been produced by a local artist, this can be a fantastic way for a new business to demonstrate its willingness to be a part of the community; the goodwill that comes of attaching oneself to an up-and-coming artist is a simple, effective way of enhancing that business’s reputation.
Pick your paint carefully
This tip depends mostly on the kind of food on your menu, but there is a bit of wiggle room here for experimentation. Mostly, though, the key to effective restaurant design is consistency, as you want the many interior elements of your dining area to coalesce as one definable identity. Say you run a seafood bar, and you opt for some heavy button-back leather chairs with bright orange paint. That will just confuse your customer base, with this fusion of tropical colors and heavy tavern furniture. You generally want the color of your paint to reflect the color of the food you’ll be serving. As such, warm colors would be your safest options, as varying shades of yellow, red, and orange are said to have the most notable effects on stimulating a person’s appetite.
The trick is to balance the richness of these shades with the artificial and natural light of your restaurant, as red and orange can sometimes have the effect of absorbing a room’s illumination and actually make it seem far darker. This is where you want a lighter shade that will reflect the available light, and give the impression of a larger, more airy space. If your restaurant has large windows and is situated in an especially sunny region, you want to use a darker shade of yellow that won’t cause glaring light reflection which could hurt your customers’ eyes.
Similarly, you may want to avoid using excessively bright colors as these can be quite aggressive and affect the customer’s ability to ease into their evening. This is actually a design tactic employed by fast food chains, who will use bright colors just a few shades below garish, in order to subconsciously repel customers from the idea of staying put at their table for very long. Fast food businesses want a high turnover so they use uncomfortably bright color schemes to prevent extended dining periods; for your restaurant, you’ll want to be doing exactly the opposite.
Put some greenery in your dining area
This works best for restaurants with outdoor seating areas, as you will have the space and sunshine needed to properly nourish your potted friends, but adding a few plants is an effective way of vitalizing any restaurant. Of course, you don’t want too many small trees and flower beds scattered across your restaurant, as this can make the dining area look needlessly cramped and messy. You don’t want the plants to come at the expense of your customers, so they should complement the available space rather than totally consume it.
This extra dose of color is not just a pretty sight, but can also have a soothing or meditative quality on your diners. Much as the practice of “forest bathing” – in which people spend extended periods in the peace and serenity of woodland areas – can reduce one’s blood pressure and enhance their overall state of wellbeing, so, too, can adding some greenery to your restaurant keep the atmosphere mellow in even the busiest of dinner periods. If the Garden of Eden was the paradise of humanity, it would do your restaurant some good to replicate that effect between courses.
As with many business endeavors, running a restaurant involves so many different challenges and obstacles. Once you’ve signed the lease, got the power on, and picked your wallpaper, you then have to market your restaurant and find local organic suppliers who are going to give you the best produce at the best prices. This is where Buffalo Market comes in: we not only support businesses of all sizes, from up-and-comers to decades-old family restaurants, with our market-quality organic ingredients, but we also know a thing or too about running a business.
For tips on everything from the latest food trends – such as the rise of organic restaurants – to the latest industry news, our restaurant owner’s blog is just about the best place to set you on your way in turning a lifelong passion for food into an honest-to-goodness moneymaking enterprise. Take a look at some of the sage advice we have on offer, and see how you can enhance your business practice today.