A restaurant’s biggest draw might be the food, but the decor and the design are what bring them back again and again. Here are some of the most common mistakes restaurateurs make and how you can avoid making them in your own place.
When you’re first starting out, you need to save money. Understandable. But, you don’t need to go so cheap that you completely kill the atmosphere. You don’t have to go overboard on expensive furniture, but if your tables are busted up, buy new table legs for them, and get some fresh and professional tablecloths. It doesn’t take much.
If your restaurant looks like a 1920s speakeasy, it needs work (unless it is actually a speakeasy). Install more lights, open up the shades a bit, make it inviting for customers. Don’t try to hide the fact that you serve food, or serve it in a setting that’s so dark that customers can’t see that you haven’t cleaned the dishes very well.
And, make sure you keep all of the lights clean and free of dust – especially if you have over-table lighting. There’s nothing worse than glancing up to see a layer of dust on a shade, ready to slide off into your food.
Customers should be tripping over holes in the carpeting. They shouldn’t be wondering what decade your carpet is from, either.
An otherwise sensibly-decorated establishment can be ruined by a dated bargain-basement flooring choice. Pick a carpet design that’s quiet and muted, but that compliments the rest of the decor. People shouldn’t be more interested in the carpet than their food, after all.
Do you have Musak piped into the place? Maybe you have a CD of your favorite high school jams on repeat. Not good. The music shouldn’t be too loud or too quiet. It shouldn’t be crazy music people wouldn’t want to listen to during dinner either.
If you’re a fancy restaurant, go with classy music – classical, in fact. But, don’t discount the benefits of classical music in other restaurant settings. Unless you’re a sports bar, you don’t need to play rock music.
There’s this pervasive myth that, if you keep the temperature a little cooler, people will order more. More likely than not, they will just get cold. If people are shivering, turn up the heat. Keep it at about living room temperature – that’s between 68 and 70.
If your place looks like it’s a hodgepodge of styles and eras, that’s bad news. We’ve all been to a restaurant that’s past its prime and it’s not pretty. The skeletons in the closet aren’t hidden too well – BBQ houses that used to be Pizza Huts, Chinese buffets that used to be IHOPs. It’s sometimes hard to cover up the previous renter. Try your best to remove every trace of the building’s former tenants so that it can’t be confused with some other business. A business that looks like it was set up overnight also looks like it might be gone next week.
And, that’s not a good impression to leave on customers.
Jade Anderson is a marketing consultant who has carved her niche in the restaurant industry. She is an advocate for independent businesses and shares her ideas for boosting customers and creating a successful brand whether her readers have a bakery, cafe or 4* restaurant.