A 2014 study found that when diners rated a restaurant’s ambience as “very good,” they also felt satisfied with their overall visit. An appealing atmosphere is worth the investment in terms of both profit and returns.
As restaurants re-open across America with renewed vigor, it’s the perfect opportunity to rethink your decor. From the way you arrange your tables to what’s playing on the screens, it’s time to consider how you can improve restaurant ambience.
Below, we offer up a list of essential design ideas that restaurateurs like you can use to not only get customers in the door but keep them there, too.
Elements of Ambience
In the past, interior architecture focused on just one sense: our eyes. Think about the enticing food photography and the themed restaurant trends of the 2000s. Today, designers are moving toward a multisensory, or “five senses” approach.
These five senses include:
- Touch–the feel of napkins, seats, tables, and chairs
- Smell–nostalgic scents like fresh-baked bread or salty sea air
- Sound–noise level, what customers hear, the background music
- Taste–the taste of the food and drink
- Look–light quality, decor, restaurant setup
When brainstorming restaurant ambience ideas, it’s essential to consider the human experience. It doesn’t matter if you own a cozy corner bistro or a Michelin-star establishment; every element of your interior design has the potential to affect a diner’s mood.
Top 7 Ways to Improve Restaurant Atmospheres
Are you unsure where to even start with your eatery’s decor? Take a leaf from home and hotel design when crafting your restaurant or cafe ambience, and you’ll be sure to create a space that people want to visit again.
Before you spend up large on that set of stunning (-ly expensive) crystal chandeliers for your speakeasy-themed eatery, consider what kind of atmosphere you want to create in your space.
Professional restaurant lighting designers focus on three categories of lighting:
- Accent lighting to showcase unique elements
- Task lighting for tables or service spaces
- Ambient lighting to create the right mood
The ratio of how you apply these different types of illumination to your space will change depending on the purpose. A fine-dining restaurant may choose to go heavy on the ambient lighting, whereas a fast-food restaurant might install many more task lighting elements.
6. Unique Decor
Your decor should reflect both your establishment’s theme and the cuisine you serve. The interior design of a locavore-themed restaurant might focus on farm-fresh decor that references the area. A burger joint would be free to adopt a hip look with, perhaps, a mural by a local street artist.
If a guest walks into an eatery and is wowed by the decor, they’re more likely to forgive minor service or quality mistakes. They’re also more likely to share photographs of your space on social media.
5. Table Placement
Interior restaurant design layout is a tricky thing to get right. It's best to balance the need to fit as many diners into your restaurant setting as possible while ensuring guests don’t feel crowded.
Leaving 24 and 30 inches between restaurant tables is a good rule of thumb–not to mention an industry standard. That should be possible for even the smallest of dining rooms.
It’s a good idea to include a variety of seating options, too. Private rooms for large parties, two and four-seater tables for couples, families, and small groups, and bar seating for drop-ins.
Consistent messaging is how customers become familiar with a brand. Think about McDonald’s golden arches or the Coca-Cola red. From the napkins to the countertops, the color palette you choose should reflect your brand’s emotions.
A vegetarian or vegan restaurant environment might focus on earthy tones like greens, browns, and blues. Rich maroons, golds, and wood effects are the best restaurant colors to evoke a sense of luxury. Pops of bright primary colors give a contemporary feel.
Whatever colors you end up with should be consistent across all your platforms, from your online advertising to wall decor.
Simply keeping your restaurant tidy and organized is essential to setting the right tone for guests. Throw out those stained tablecloths, dust your ornaments, light fixtures, and shelves regularly, and never let a streaky crystal wine glass out of the kitchen again.
In the post-COVID era, restaurant hygiene is more important than ever. Bathrooms must be regularly checked and cleaned to keep customers satisfied, and you need to adhere to government guidelines for handwashing and sanitation.
Don’t forget about your employee get-ups in your restaurant ambience budget. Remember, diners interact the most with the person looking after their table, which means their impression of the server is crucial in determining their overall experience.
Coordinated uniforms help to emphasize your brand, create an air of professionalism, and ensure your staff presents a neat, clean image to guests. Not only that, but it encourages a sense of camaraderie and emphasizes roles among your team.
1. Background Music and Visual Entertainment
What your customers see and hear influences how they perceive your restaurant. In fact, in a 2011 study, research showed that background music not only increases your patron’s appetite but makes food taste better. An increased appetite means better restaurant profits.
The same type of feeling goes for your visible entertainment. People process perceptible information tens of thousands of times faster than text, and they love visual entertainment in restaurants!
For example, a Nielsen survey showed that 66% of the adult population prefers to watch live sports in a food service spot. Unfortunately, not all sports are of equal interest to your patrons, nor are they on all the time. Additionally, sports broadcasting alone is not suitable for many restaurant styles.
Wouldn’t it be better if you could stream carefully curated channels to all your sets that include both visual and music options? Atmosphere TV has everything from guaranteed family-friendly content and trending viral videos to adrenaline-pumping alpine adventures.
The added benefit of Atmosphere TV digital signage technology is that your restaurant can also utilize personalized content in between the curated shows. For example, you can leverage powerful digital signage such as a dinner special. This type of digital menu has shown to boost overall sales by as much as 5%.
Improve Restaurant Ambience to Drive Profits
Customer retention plays a considerable role in whether a restaurant remains in business. Whether or not your customer has a memorable experience at your restaurant determines if they will return, and also how they talk about your establishment with others.
Improve restaurant ambience, and your guests will be excited to hand over their hard-earned money.
Are you interested in learning more about improving your restaurant ambience with streaming TV and audio atmosphere? Learn more about what Atmosphere TV has to offer today.