Now, you have found the perfect restaurant location, and it’s time to roll up your sleeves to furnish and decorate the space to improve customer experience. This is marketing, you bet! It is part of what F&B experts call, “Restaurant Concept Development“, and should be an important concern for restaurant managers and owners. The interior design of a restaurant that doesn’t enrich the dining experience won’t make people return, even though you have the best fish on the planet.
Moreover, as we’ll see below, many factors contribute to increasing the orders and, therefore, cashing in more. Here, I don’t want to give you architecture lessons, as it’s not my job, but I want you to reflect upon some aspects that are too often overlooked by managers and entrepreneurs.
I’m talking about some critical factors that can make you save money, increase revenue, and keep your guests coming back. Your interior design makes up what is, essentially, an environment that sells food. Following are some tips to help you plan a successful restaurant interior design.
How to Design a Restaurant that Enhances the Customer Experience
Even though it is not possible to create a step-by-step guide to designing a restaurant, as each one has its concept and context, there are factors to consider. Follow the 7 key ingredients to create an inviting ambiance in your eatery.
The psychology of colour and its relationship with persuasion is one of the most interesting and, at the same time, controversial aspect of marketing. Colours convey different feelings to the brain; they impact our bodies, causing different psychological attitudes.
In principle, the warm colours (yellow, orange, red) are stimulating and positive, but also impetuous and determined. Grey, black, brown, and white are elegant, but cold and detached, and are often associated with negative or unpleasant feelings and situations. Green and blue are reassuring and inspire confidence.
In the F&B field, red is the king. Have you seen the logo, décor, and staff’s uniform of McDonald’s? Red is the dominant colour. In fact, it is scientifically proven that red whets the appetite, while blue slows the metabolism. An important factor to consider when choosing the colour scheme of your restaurant, in addition to the concept, image, and target of your restaurant, is the psychological impact it has on customers’ minds.
Remember one thing above all: no one comes into a restaurant for the furnishing. Appearance and good taste is important, but if your chairs cost 900$ each or you bought them at an Ikea store for 15$, no one will care.
Having said that, you are free to decorate and design your restaurant as you want, but remember, the more your style tends to technology (glass, steel, cold colours, rigid forms and intense white lights, etc.), the fewer people will be hungry. I’m not saying you should only fit out a casual eatery with wooden walls and fireplace.
However, to be honest, this is the kind of ambiance that, psychologically speaking, 99% of people look for when they want to eat relaxed. In the fashion-café, with the hi-tech furnishing and starched waiters, only young people go. They spend little and, usually, do not become attached to the place: when it another opens not far away, they emigrate immediately.
Lighting is a vital factor, especially when it comes to a public place, like a restaurant. With appropriate lighting, you can enhance the quality of furniture, hide the flaws, and improve the dining experience.
Besides, illumination is the first thing that attracts customers outside: bright and wide-ranging light hooks passers-by and gives a warm welcome, once they cross the threshold. The choice of lights, as well as to influence the style of furniture, is also crucial for the creation of the atmosphere.
The warm light, instead of the cold, will bring warmth to the space; the use of lights positioned on the individual tables will encourage a soft talk among customers, while cold lights will certainly raise the tone of voice. The creation of a successful restaurant interior design also depends greatly on the lights.
Sitting in one place, discreetly romantic, one day, I was enjoying a robust cuisine, but full of nuances. At the table alone, you know, you look more closely at the environment, people, and details. And if the room is half empty, living with the background music becomes crucial. I remember the shock when I heard, for the third time, an awful half English and half Spanish, frenzied rhythm song. It took an effort of will not to leave that amazing soup and immediately ask for the check.
The music has a significant effect on the restaurant visitors. Several studies have shown that the background music makes employees happier, improves the image of a place, and stimulates the appetite.
Rock music increases appetite and the speed of our jaws, while the classic predisposes the stomach to receive calm, refined foods. In crowded pizzerias, rock does increase the orders and helps to empty tables quickly; in exclusive restaurants, symphonies stimulate Thumbs Up to the sophisticated dishes of the chef.
Between music and food, there is a connection, so why not try to create studied combinations between the two worlds to stimulate the senses.
Olfactory stimuli are particularly powerful, as they are the only ones not filtered in any way from the cognition, but go directly to the brain. The sense of smell can grasp, even the smallest nuances: the human being has around 5-6 million receptors able to detect and catalogue 10,000 different smells.
Also, the sense of smell is characterized by the ability to fix the stimulus in the memory of the individual. Playing with this sense in the F&B field is crucial to the success of your marketing plan.
For example, my client increased the number of young couples coming into his romantic restaurant by spraying a bit of tuberose perfume; this flower relaxes and enhances sensuality.
You heard, many times, but I have to point out the remark: bathrooms matter! It seems obvious, but I’ve seen many owners spending thousands of dollars on high-quality products and promotion activities and not a single cent on the disastrous bathrooms.
If customers have to swim in a lake of pee to reach the bowl, and there is the same smell of metro toilets, I can assure you; they will not return. Maintaining clean bathrooms, with paper and soap dispenser always full, is vital. Use automatic perfume dispensers to make the smell pleasant and make sure all door locks work properly.
In general, any store is no longer the passive place, where people buy their goods or services, but a place where they fulfill dreams and needs. It relates to restaurants, especially. You don’t have to try to sell the products, like before; you have to create a space that focuses on the product or service you intend to sell and on the relation it has with the guest.
The goal is to exploit all the opportunities offered by the visual merchandising by replacing the passive selling of goods with a proactive one. To do this, you need to plan the layout of the restaurant, creating a visual pathway for the customers, trying to force them to walk through it. This is what so-called, “Visual Merchandising” does; it uses the space properly to increase the value of your products and services to maximize profitability.
The management of space plays a critical role in influencing purchasing decisions, as it must be able to create a relationship not only physically but also psychologically. To give a practical example, we analyse the so-called Focal Points. These “virtual” points are those areas of the restaurant which are, on average, more observed by customers. Of course, they depend on how the spaces have been set up, where you put tables, chairs, and all the equipment.
It seems obvious that if, instead of using these spaces to place any cutlery or glasses, we use them to expose certain products, like sweets and wine bottles, the probability that these are purchased will be certainly greater than to keep them out of customer’s sights.