Five Tips for Creating a Great Atmosphere in a Restaurant

Successful restaurants offer much more than delicious food, drinks and service to their guests. In many cases, a great atmosphere is just as important as what's on the menu. When determining the design of your restaurant, a good starting point is to think about your target customer, determine the mood you want in your space and work from there. Here are five important aspects to consider when creating the right environment for your diners:


How you light your restaurant is critical to creating a great atmosphere. Once you have installed the ambient lighting, which provides areas with even, overall illumination, add accent lights such as decorative pendants over the bar; spotlights to call attention to design elements or architectural features; and decorative and feature lighting such as chandeliers and wall sconces. Votive candles are another great way to add decorative lighting and instantly set a romantic mood.

Perhaps the most important decisions you will make about the atmosphere of your restaurant revolve around color, including wall color, furniture, floor color, window treatments and accents. The right color goes a long way toward setting the desired mood, whether it's bright white walls and green accents that represent nature for a vegetarian restaurant or rich wood tones and warm paint colors for a British-style pub. Make sure the colors you choose are in line with your concept and the vibe you want in your space. Bright tones are ideal for fast-food restaurants, while soothing neutrals are best for fine dining. These can look boring without some contrast, however; to liven up the space, consider painting the baseboards a contrasting color, adding metallic accents or decorating with bold artwork. Take a look at this article about color schemes on Swipely for inspiration.

Open kitchens, concrete floors, wood tables, bars located within the dining space and bare windows can all contribute to excessive noise in a restaurant, which diners in Los Angeles cited as the number-one irritant about dining out in a 2014 Zagat survey. Professional soundproofing or installing sound panels is a smart idea to dampen the din and create a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere for dining and conversation.

Menu Design
Great design extends to printed materials, including your restaurant's menu. Menus should reflect the desired mood of your restaurant and can range from thick card stock to a simple chalkboard on the wall with specials or, in some cases, the entire list of available items.

Dishware and Napkins
Details like your plates, glasses, cutlery and napkins go a long way toward setting a great atmosphere for dining. Plain, dull plates and cheap flatware will immediately make a bad impression. Choose dinnerware that is high-quality and complements your concept, such as standard white plates for a diner or china plates embellished with a restaurant's logo for fine dining. Be sure to order more than you think you'll need so you'll have replacements on hand, and don't order plates that are discontinued.

Creating a great atmosphere is no easy task, but with thorough research and careful consideration, it is something you can accomplish yourself. For more inspiration, take a look at idea boards on Pinterest, like this collection of restaurant decor ideas.

Photo credit: Flickr