Interior design is critical for any restaurant, yet it can be often overlooked. No one wants to get their menu just right only to have guests leave because of there wasn’t a waiting area, or fail to return because the noise level was too high or a negative review because the lightings were too dim or loud. It’s the first impression that the patrons will have of the space. Before they’ve even tasted the food, they’ll make a judgment about the design and comfort level.
Thus, carefully considering design will help reinforce the brand story and will eventually help drive business. So ,how can one be sure that his/her restaurant is optimized for design? Interior designers weigh in on what they find restaurant owners often overlook, important yet minute details.
Ignorance of environmental awareness
Restaurants use almost five times more energy per square foot than any other type of commercial building and roughly 10 percent of the country’s trash is generated exclusively by the restaurant industry, triggering a considerable negative impact on the environment.
According to Jehan-Ara Poonawala, Chief Designer - JJ Poonawala Architects & Interior Designers, some of these negative effects restaurants inflict on the environment can be reduced, and in some cases eliminated, through the use of energy-efficient, high-performance equipment as well as innovative design and construction practices.
“This ignorance of environmental awareness has been compounded by owners that have a short-sighted vision of building timely-cheap restaurants to make a quick profit; yet, disregard the long-term effects of increased operating expenses as a consequence of inefficiencies in design and construction,” Poonawala commented.
She suggested that the design of the dedicated recycling and storage area must be easily accessible within the restaurant in order to encourage these practices.
Exaggeration of the materialism
Restaurant design is the harmonious blend of experientiality and functionality that doesn’t complete the picture when in the wrong ratios. According to Dhruva Kalra of I’m D’sign, an exaggeration of the materialism and the luring trends around it may leave the design far-fetched and quixotic.
“Although most eateries captivate our eyes with an undeniably enticing look, a wholesome experience calls for a broader gratification—costumer centricity, utilitarian schemes, state-of-the-art amenities and more. The ideal design seeds the customer interests without overlooking the interconnection of interior elements in a design,” Kalra stated.
The exceedingly aestheticized finishes
“Aesthetics is often taken to a level that it turns a deaf ear towards the comfort of the inmates,” Kalra states. Some spaces overplay with the beauty factor, leaving uncomfortably aligned seaters, skidding floors and obscuring dim-lit tables open to the visitors. In most spaces, the reflectivity can be overwhelming and the sheer surfaces may be uncalled for. A great deal of practicality, privacy and purpose is given up in such aesthetically-biased concepts. According to Kalra, the solution lies with a more conscious balance, floors can accommodate parallel walkable layers and screens shall be foregrounded in see-through backdrops..
The aesthetics must also represent the type of restaurant it is for. A casual setting for a high-end restaurant wouldn’t have customers looking for a repeat experience. Not all restaurants are made for an open layout. Smaller or eccentrically-laid profiles shall include elements that accentuate the experiential attributes. Everything from the visitor’s entry till the actual gourmet indulgence calls for a special regard. “Welcoming entries, non-claustrophobic layouts, spaced-out tables, tucked away washrooms and a 360-degree harmony in view makes a restaurant worth the watch. Succession of micro-level encounters aggrandize the larger shell,” Kalra further suggested.
Recalling the lighting
Most restaurants go overboard with the dramatic light accents and leave the quintessence unattended. Being central to the design of a restaurant, it becomes inevitable to layer the lighting levels. From wayfinding to unobstructed serving, all activities in a food outlet get accelerated with appropriate lighting elements. “Tech interventions in spanned-out spaces make a trust of feasibility, centralised light control as in commercial false ceilings come out as befitting modules. Suspended luminaire strips in the kitchens, track lighting in the counters and flushed panels along the walkways create a sensible yet stunning space,” Kalra said. By properly setting the mood, lighting influences customer experience and the restaurant sales.
Not to forget the pandemic consequences
In times when both diners and restaurateurs are wary of circulation and seating arrangements, it is crucial to develop nimble layouts to ensure strict two-metre social distancing norms. “If we can reconfigure restaurant space in alignment with social distancing norms while promoting better engagement, something interesting could emerge as them being thriving hubs of human interaction,” Asha Sairam, Principal, Studio Lotus commented.
Typically, any eatery will seek to maximize seating capacities, optimizing every square foot to simultaneously cater to maximum visitors. Restaurants thus will need to look beyond stopgap solutions to become viable again as businesses and that may very well extend beyond simply their design and layout.
Prediction of the bills
Last but not the least, Kalra pointed out that smart energy systems make the new age restaurants stand out from the rest. Choices in air-conditioning systems, lighting modules etc. define the soundness of the design. Greener inclusions like solar or other naturally-sourced energy systems add a sustainable imprint in the space. Such energy experiments have long-term effects on energy consumption, therefore the bills.
“Smarter systems further bring down the maintenance costs in long run. The umbrella of spends in a restaurant thus needs a look away from the present, all the way to the future, to become a supreme work of design. The life of a piece of architecture reflects the credibility of its make,” he said.
Even if one have nailed down flow, aesthetics, acoustics, sustainibility and effeciancy, there are still ways to provide something out of the ordinary that attracts customer attention. Maybe an extra storage area for supplies, plugs for cell phones by tables and counters, enough plugs for events, hooks under counters for purses and backpacks and why not a clear spaces for purses in ladies bathrooms?