As with most aspects of the restaurant industry, science plays an important role in seemingly minor details like lighting. In the kitchen, lighting sets the pace for workers and provides an accurate look at dishes. In the dining room, lighting affects how long guests stay, how much they eat, and how much they enjoy their experience. What kind of atmosphere does your lighting project?
In one study of how lighting affects meals, researchers turned half of a fast food restaurant into a fine dining experience with mood music and low lighting. The results? People who ate in the dimmer side consumed less food, were more likely to order additional items, enjoyed the food more, and stayed longer in the restaurant.
To find the perfect lighting design for your restaurant consider these tips from experts.
- Use direct lights for food displays.
- Indirect lighting is good for creating balance.
- Opt for flexible lighting where you can control the brightness or move lighting at different times of day.
- Use groups of lights to highlight important areas like a hostess stand.
- Dramatic lighting is best served as a way to highlight expensive add ons like liquor from the bar or desserts.
- Pay attention to outdoor lighting and make sure it looks inviting and highlights the entrance.
In general, customers want to be able to see the menu and any important areas of the restaurant, but they often want to feel like they’re in a private, intimate location. If lighting is too bright it can seem abrasive and minimize privacy. If it’s too dim guest may have trouble navigating the menu and restaurant.
Specific areas of the restaurant require different levels of lighting. In the kitchen you want optimal lighting to see everything that’s happening and keep staff alert. Guests want dining room light to be dimmer than, say, the kitchen. Restrooms should offer ample light to make guests feel secure and comfortable. Front of house work areas need brighter lighting to help wait staff do their job well.
As with all restaurant design, put yourself in the guest’s shoes. Take off your chef coat and sit in different seats, walk through the restaurant, stand outside waiting. When you experience things as the guest does, you’ll better understand if there are necessary improvements.