Decorating a restaurant isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve never done so before. It doesn’t have to be a trial, but keep in mind that there are plenty of mistakes to be made. Here are the top three to avoid.
1. Lack of ambiance. Music, lighting, temperature — just the general atmosphere of your restaurant is incredibly important. You want it to be a place people enjoying spending time. The food could be the best they’ve ever had, but if they feel uncomfortable in the place they’re eating it, chances are they’ll trade for slightly less quality food at a restaurant they love being in. Do not, under any circumstances use fluorescent lighting. Make sure the place is well-lit enough that the patrons will be able to see what they’re eating — and each other — but not so bright they feel like they’re in a hospital food court. Keep the music light, nothing that will overpower people’s conversations. Adjust the heat or air conditioning accordingly to the weather.
2. Cheap and tacky restaurant furniture. There’s nothing chic about chintzy restaurant tables and chairs. Even if the food isn’t expensive, no one wants to feel like they’re eating at a cheap place. Don’t settle for less than the best when you choose restaurant furniture — it needs to be comfortable and well-made. Go for cushioned seats with armrests, and for the bar, stools with padding. Don’t have the same seating all over — make sure everything matches, especially at each table, but having a variety of chairs throughout the restaurant is an easy way to add flair to its look. Regular chairs, booths and a bar with stools are the most common combinations. If any damages to the restaurant furniture occur, have them taken care of immediately —a tear with stuffing sticking out is unacceptable.
3. If you’re buying or renting an old space that has been occupied by other owners, remove all traces of whatever was there before. You need to create a distinguished look for your restaurant, one that you choose and maintain, otherwise people will come in, look around and realize, “This used to be a Burger King.” Whether subconsciously or otherwise, people are more likely to enjoy a place if they think it will be around for a while. When trying out a new restaurant, people thrive on the possibility that it might become a place they can go often and rely on to have a good time at. For a more low-key place, put up tasteful, understated artwork that won’t overpower the general look. If you’re going for a wacky theme restaurant, you can get away with not holding back with the decor, but keep in mind that whatever kind of decor you go with is going to attract a certain crowd.
If you’re targeting a particular group, decorate accordingly.