November 11, 2022

How to Create an Unforgettable Restaurant Experience

Friends at a restaurant

These are the things that contribute to an unforgettable restaurant experience, and they’re what keep us coming back time and time again.

For restaurant owners, the secret to success is determining what those elements are (or will be) within their own establishments and learning how to present them in a unique, captivating way that resonates with patrons. Yes, great food is important, but without a curated and compelling dining experience, your restaurant can be eclipsed at any moment by a newer, more distinctive, or better-positioned competitor.

So, what can you do to establish and maintain a great restaurant people will flock to regularly?

To start, you’ll need to understand how ambiance impacts the bottom line of your business.

The Importance of the Restaurant Experience

Attracting new customers is an integral part of running a successful restaurant, and when it comes to what potential customers want, the numbers don’t lie. Here are some eye-opening statistics regarding what customers expect or look for in a new restaurant:

  • 91 percent of casual dining restaurant patrons say ambiance influences their decision to visit a particular eatery
  • 75 percent of patrons say they won’t visit a restaurant if they have heard complaints about its cleanliness
  • 44 percent of diners say live entertainment (music, stand-up comedy, etc) would attract them to try a particular restaurant

These numbers provide key insights into the restaurant expectations diners have and the decision-making process they go through when seeking out new culinary experiences. We can clearly see that an establishment’s menu isn’t the only factor people consider. They are also looking for a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that’s inviting, clean, and engaging.

It’s also important to analyze the reasons why patrons return to a particular restaurant when looking into the importance of the restaurant experience. Here are some stats worth noting:

  • Sticky or dirty tables and surfaces would negatively impact the decision to dine again for 74 percent of diners
  • 64 percent of customers say cramped seating would deter them from returning to a restaurant
  • 59 percent of diners say outdated decor would stop them from returning to a restaurant for a second time

These are all figures that demonstrate the significance of a good atmosphere in the restaurant business.

How to Build a Great Restaurant Experience

Based on the information above, we can conclude with certainty that customers care about the entire experience a restaurant provides, and that restaurants with an experience that’s memorable tend to outperform run-of-the-mill ones that leave something to be desired.

Now it’s time to talk about what to do with this information.

Whether you’re planning to open a new restaurant, or you’re looking for ways to breathe new life into one you’ve owned for several years, there are a multitude of ways you can encourage customers to visit your establishment and turn first-time visitors into loyal patrons. You just need to know what your options are so you can confidently invest your time, energy, and money into the best solution for your business.

Keep scrolling for our top ways to build an outstanding restaurant experience.

Conjure Up an Incredible Concept

The theme of your restaurant is the most powerful means of differentiating your business from your competition. In most cases, a restaurant’s theme is determined by its decor, but this isn’t the only way to create a concept. You can build the theme of your restaurant around a specific philosophy (i.e. sustainable ingredient sourcing), a particular cooking method (open pit grilling, for example), a traditional regional cuisine (the Neapolitan cuisine of Naples, Italy), or a sporting event (a football-themed pub strategically located near a popular stadium).

The options are truly endless when it comes to choosing a restaurant concept, but don’t feel pressured to reinvent the wheel. Many successful restaurant owners have built bustling establishments by sticking to a simple, clear, and straightforward theme. As long as you do your market research and select a concept that aligns with your target market, the rest can be achieved with a little elbow grease!

Prioritize Consistency in Design, Decor, and Branding

The more consistent you are in how you present your business to new and existing customers, the more likely it is they’ll see your brand as dependable, trustworthy, and reputable.

You can maintain consistency in several different ways, including:

  • Choosing a branded color palette and using it invariably for all visual aspects of your marketing or design strategy
  • Identifying the type of imagery that best suits your brand and including that imagery throughout your marketing materials, website, and physical restaurant space
  • Prominently displaying your logo in promotional materials as much as possible (menus, website, business cards, coupons, coasters, etc)

In a nutshell? Never leave customers wondering who you are or what makes your restaurant unique. Consistently communicate your branding so they can relate to you and get to know you on a deeper level.

Spice Up Your Space With a Statement Piece

Take a moment to ask yourself: “What is a good restaurant?” Yes, it’s delicious food and impeccable service. But what if we go beyond that?

For many diners, what makes a good restaurant is more than just the obvious. It’s about the wow factor (features they can’t find anywhere else).

Examples of statement pieces that add a wow factor to a dining experience include:

  • Indoor water features (fountains, fish tanks, etc)
  • Unique cooking methods and equipment (authentic Italian wood-fired pizza ovens, Japanese teppanyaki, etc)
  • Specialty bar designs (tiki bar, cigar bar, speakeasy bar, etc)
  • Entertainment features (pinball machines, live music, vintage jukebox, pool tables, etc)
  • Outdoor dining areas (rooftop patios, sidewalk seating, etc)
  • Instagrammable art features (murals, sculptures, paintings, photo galleries, neon signs, etc)

Adding any of these features to your space could land you at the top of any list of fun atmosphere restaurants. Let your imagination run wild!

Have a Lightbulb Moment

We mean this literally! Lighting is an integral component of restaurant interior design. The style of lighting fixtures you choose, as well as where you place them and the level of brightness they provide, will all impact the look and feel of your restaurant.

In fact, 91 percent of diners have reported that ambiance is a critical factor in choosing a restaurant, and lighting is one of the most important factors of ambiance. Don’t miss your opportunity to tap into this revenue booster!

When choosing lighting for your space, be sure to factor light coloring into your decision, since bright, cool-toned lighting encourages diners to eat faster and creates a more sterile feeling environment, while warm light contributes to a more intimate, cozy ambiance.

It’s also wise to consider the style of lighting fixtures you’ll be using. If your concept is modern and contemporary, for example, minimalistic pendant fixtures might look best. If you’re going for a more rustic vibe, industrial lighting fixtures made from steel or wood are your best bet.

Use Television To Your Advantage

You can easily turn a good restaurant into a great restaurant by adding a few flat screen TVs and strategically selecting the content you show. Television has come a long way, and unlike in the past, you can now use your TV for more than just watching cable.

Here are some of the top little-known ways to utilize TV screens in restaurants:

  1. Digital Menu Board
    Menu boards displayed on TV screens are a fantastic way to keep patrons engaged during their visit. They can display a ton of information, like food item descriptions, allergy and food sensitivity recommendations, nutritional information, and more, providing a streamlined and convenient experience to your customers. Plus, they lower the costs associated with replacing printed menus and other promotional materials.
    While digital menu boards are most commonly used in casual dining and fast food establishments, fine dining restaurants can enhance their luxurious and sophisticated atmosphere with the right content and display features.
  2. Real-Time Social Media Feed
    Your customers will likely take photos while visiting your restaurant. Studies have shown, after all, that 69 percent of millennials take a photo (or a video) of their food before eating. Why not repurpose this content by sharing it on your digital display board?
    User-generated content is extremely beneficial in terms of marketing. Remember, more than 50 percent of diners say they’ve decided to try a particular eatery after seeing a menu item on social media.
    You can incorporate social media into your marketing strategy using your TV screens, boosting engagement and promoting special offers. Displaying a live social media feed will encourage existing customers to try new menu items, while also adding a warm and welcoming element to the overall atmosphere.
  3. Audio-Optional Streaming Content
    If you’re determined to have your eatery rank among the best experience restaurants, you’ll need to think outside the box— especially when it comes to what you show on your TV screens.
    Think about all of your major competitors. What are they showing on their televisions? Live sports games? The Food Network? Your local news station?
    All of these options force customers to sit through annoying commercials they aren’t interested in. Plus, they don’t set your restaurant apart from other similar establishments. So why not do something different?
    You can make the switch to Atmosphere’s business cable, featuring audio-optional streaming content. Start inspiring, informing, motivating, and amusing your customers with original programming they actually want to watch. From adorable animal videos to tropical beach vacations, or premiere action sports footage— there’s something for everyone.

Bring Life to Your Space by Adding Greenery

Creating a memorable restaurant experience doesn’t have to be all glitz and glamour. There are plenty of in-elaborate ways to turn your eatery into something extraordinary— and one of the most enchanting is by bringing the outdoors into your space.

Plants aren’t just enjoyable to look at. They also improve concentration, increase positivity, and reduce feelings of tension (by nearly 40 percent)— all of which contribute to a more pleasurable dining experience. And it doesn’t stop there! Plants remove harmful toxins from the air, contributing to a healthier indoor environment for your guests and improving overall air quality.

Low-maintenance indoor species like snake plants, ponytail palms, and philodendrons are all great options for restaurants and other businesses since they can withstand common issues like low sunlight, a cold draft, or an overlooked watering. Just be sure to check your plants regularly for pests and invest in a good indoor-safe insecticide.

Trust us, any restaurant can feel like a secret indoor oasis with enough plants. Consider adding these all-natural decor elements to your space for a lush, jungle-like ambiance your patrons will rave about.

Design Beyond Your Dining Area

It’s not uncommon for restaurant owners to overlook areas of their establishment during the interior design process, but it’s definitely a costly oversight. Common areas like bathrooms, entrances, and waiting rooms are all spaces your guests will occupy and will have a direct impact on their overall dining experience.

Incorporating special touches in these locations lets your customers know you care about the little things— and we all know that perfection is in the details. Whether it’s adding handcrafted mosaic tiles as a backsplash in your bathrooms, placing plush and comfy custom upholstered benches in your waiting area, or greeting your guests with luxury double solid-wood doors, diners will undoubtedly notice the unique flair your space has to offer and appreciate your attention to the subtle particulars of interior design.

Take Your Tableware to the Next Level

The dishes, utensils, glassware, linens, and centerpieces you choose for your restaurant all leave an impression on your guests and inform them of the type of dining experience they’re about to have. If your tables don formal table settings, for instance, complete with dessert spoons, red and white wine glasses, and salad forks, it sets the stage for a more cultured, high-class dining experience. If your table settings are more informal, though, with just the basics (water glass, napkin, fork, knife, plate) it tells diners they are in for a relaxed, day-to-day experience.

Here are a few ways you can use tableware to set the tone for your restaurant:

  • Varied Centerpieces
    Traditionally, centerpieces are identically replicated at every table, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Making each centerpiece unique, while still adhering to your greater concept, is an excellent way to add intrigue for your guests. If the theme of your restaurant is the New York City skyline, for example, you could place a tiny replica of a different iconic NYC skyscraper at each table. Not only would this be visually appealing, but it serves as a conversation starter for diners and provides a new experience each time they visit.
  • Styled Silverware
    Yes, even the design of your silverware can shape a diner’s perception of your eatery. Remember, perfection is in the details! If you’re an ultra-modern bistro, for example, a minimalistic utensil style with sleek, clean lines is the best choice. If you run a casual local burger joint, however, opting for disposable cutlery in a fun, bold color adds excitement and a sense of individuality. There really isn’t a single approach that works best— it’s all about solidifying your brand identity and choosing options that align with it in a compelling way.
  • Textured Table Linens
    Interior design relies on texture to add dimension and further enhance the overarching concept. Textured table linens are an easy and impactful way to bring character to your dining space. Let’s take a herringbone cotton tablecloth, as an example— this pattern is dignified and classic, without being overly pretentious, making it ideal for contemporary casual restaurants wanting a material that feels heavy and high-grade. For restaurants seeking a more homely, unembellished aesthetic, linens with plaid patterns like gingham or buffalo check are fantastic choices, as they bring a familiar, welcoming feel to table settings.

Step Up Your beverage Game

Did you know 35 percent of diners order an alcoholic beverage with dinner? That’s a significant portion of your customer base. You can cater to these diners by providing them with one-of-a-kind drink options they won’t find on your competitor’s drink menu. Try to come up with eye-catching cocktails that are vibrant and photo-worthy. Bring in a selection of local craft beers with distinct flavors. Stock up on aged single malt scotch options to appeal to your sophisticated male demographic. There are countless ways to up the ante. Just take the time to consider what your target market is looking for and then choose elevated spirits or beverages that meet their needs. When they see you walking towards them with a refreshing pink lemonade margarita, or they set their eyes on a custom bar that’s chock full of premium whiskies, there’s no doubt they’ll be glad they chose to visit your restaurant.

Ensure Your Team Dresses The Part

Studies show that 65 percent of diners prefer when restaurant staff members wear uniforms. Why? Uniforms not only reiterate branding and portray a harmonized, cooperative team environment, but they also make it easier for diners to identify who works at your establishment. There are a number of ways you can use uniforms to enhance the overall restaurant experience your guests enjoy, from choosing 50’s style diner outfits for a more retro vibe, to opting for button-down vests and ascot ties for a more refined look, or keeping it low-key with logo t-shirts and waist aprons. Experiment until you find the best fit for your team!

Let Atmosphere Bring the Wow Factor

At AtmosphereTV, we’re in the business of creating restaurants with great atmospheres. We believe the environment an eatery provides is equally as important as the quality of its food and customer service, so we’re helping restaurateurs and other business owners improve the look and feel of their interior spaces.

Our highly engaging and mood-enhancing business TV channels are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. They can be viewed with or without audio, and they provide high-definition content that’s customized to your target demographic.

Unlike traditional television channels, our content is created specifically for customers of commercial businesses. It’s less about storylines and viewership ratings, and more about establishing an engaging environment where guests feel comfortable, entertained, and catered to.

In fact, we’ve done our research, and the numbers show restaurants that use our streaming services see a 14 percent increase in new business and a 19 percent increase in return customers. Now, imagine what that could mean for your business!

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional television channels for your business, we’re the right solution for you. Our business TV package and in-house ad solutions allow you to personalize your programming and display content that actually increases profitability.

Don’t settle for digital solutions that don’t meet your needs or the needs of your customers. Try Atmosphere TV today!