1. Lighting

Lighting is often very overlooked but is the most impactful on atmosphere. A great restaurant with a great fit out but terrible lighting will still lack atmosphere. The key here is awareness and constant adjustment.

Generally during the day it’s best to get as much natural light as possible into your venue. If this is not possible then create soft light using globes that are frosted.

At night you can play by a general rule of thumb. If in doubt turn down the lights. If the lights are too low then people will get out their phones or hold the menu close to their face so you can adjust the lights brighter. On the other hand if your lights are too bright, you won’t notice anything with your customers physically but they will feel that the atmosphere will feel sterile. This is much worse.

If you can, install dimmer switches on your lights. This puts you much more in control of the atmosphere. If you don’t have dimmer switches then use table candles and turn off the brighter lights in the venue.

2. Music

Do not play the radio! People do not come to a restaurant to feel like they are in the middle of their commute to work!

The key to picking the right music is to think about your customers and to think about what your concept is. What music will feel authentic and add to the experience of your concept.

Then there is volume, again this is about awareness and adjustment. People want to be able to have a conversation but don’t want to feel everyone else can hear their conversation. The music volume at lunch may be different to dinner. The volume also has to match with your concept and your customers.

3. Details

Small things go a long way in creating a customer’s experience. Look for little trinkets or pieces that add to the authenticity of your concept. Your customer may not consciously notice these items but they will subconsciously make their experience feel unique and more authentic than your competitors.

Examples could include:

  • staff uniforms
  • wall hangings
  • unique furniture
  • posters/artwork/murals that are reflective of your concept
  • water jugs, salt and pepper shakers

Good luck with creating a great atmosphere in your restaurant – if you need help, book an advisory session with author and expert, Nathan Moses