January 31, 2013How to Choose the Correct Music / Lighting / Decor for your Restaurant

Music, lighting, and decor play a vital role in setting the overall tone and feel of a restaurant. In some cases, it’s attention to detail that really sets a restaurant apart from the competition and keeps customers coming back. It all comes down to the “if a tree falls in the forest” theory. If you have the best food in town, but you have poor lighting, outdated decor, and music that’s reminiscent of your last trip to the dentist’s office, are people really going to want to eat there?

Here are some tips on choosing the right music, lighting, and decor for your restaurant:

1) Setting the Tone with the Right Music:

Selecting the right music for a restaurant is a major decision. You generally have three basic choices when it comes to music in a restaurant. Some restaurants go with traditional elevator music. Sometimes the owner picks his favorite tunes and sometimes the staff is allowed to choose. All of these options can produce mixed results among your customers.

• Elevator music – This is the safest choice, but does it really match the tone of your restaurant? If you’re running a sports bar and restaurant, do patrons really want to hear a watered down version of “My Heart Will Go On” while watching the big game?

• Owner-selected Tunes – Restaurants have personalities and who better knows what the personality of their restaurant is better than the owner? The only real drawback is if the music doesn’t really match with the theme of the restaurant. This approach tends to work better in casual dining settings rather than “fancy” restaurants that rely more on ambiance.

• Staff-selected Tunes – If you’re going to allow the staff to select the music, it’s best to set some ground rules. You don’t want music that’s going to offend or annoy your customers. This means no profanity, heavy metal, or rap – unless this fits in with the style of your restaurant, except for the profanity. All music, regardless of what it is, should be kept at a low level in the background.

2) Finding the Right Balance with Lighting:

Do your customers really need to be blinded by a bright light from above while trying to enjoy a romantic moment? Do you really need soft mood lighting to enjoy a pizza? The lighting that you need for your restaurant depends on several factors such as the time of day, the theme of your restaurant, and even the specific area of your restaurant that needs some form of lighting.

• Breakfast – Lots of light is needed to set a bright, energetic tone for the day.

• Lunch – Moderate lighting is fine since you don’t really want people to linger as you’re trying to turn tables over quickly.

• Dinner – Low intensity light tends to work best for most restaurants since you want people to take time to enjoy their meal and unwind. This is especially true in a fine dining restaurant.

• Fast food and family restaurants – These kind of places should be well lit to provide a comfortable, bright and fun atmosphere.

• Theme restaurants – Use fun lighting such as colored lights to match the theme of your restaurant.

3) Bringing it all Together with the Right Decor:

The decor of your restaurant should reflect your personality and the overall tone of the restaurant. A pizza place and other casual dining spots generally reflect the personality of the owner. More upscale restaurants generally have a simple decor so as not to detract from the food and atmosphere. Whatever your decision is for the decor, you want to be consistent. Color schemes should match and your decor should match the overall feeling you want to create when someone walks in the door.

First impressions are important, especially when it comes to the restaurant business. It can be overwhelming when trying to select the right music, lighting, and decor for your restaurant. If you’re not sure where to start, contact a professional designer to get some ideas to get you started. Get a few trusted opinions and get as much advice as you can.

Take time to consider factors such as the theme of your restaurant, the type of mood you want to set and how practical your lighting choices really are. You want to create an atmosphere that displays your style and sets the right tone for your customers.

By Ian Said
January 22, 2013

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