A restaurant is, on the surface, a business that’s all about the food. It’s also about the service. Both of these are important. But more than anything else, it’s about the experience. A good restaurant is a destination for a date or a family get-together. A mini-holiday for the portion of the night. Which is where the scene of the restaurant plays its part. Done right, it complements the food and the service, taking the business to a whole new level of quality.
The first and most important part of the scene is the look of the place. A restaurant needs to look (and be) clean, but you can go further than that. Think of the food that you’re serving and the kind of experience you want customers to have. Do you want a place that feels modern, highlighting the fusion aspect of the menu? Then industrial lighting and sharp, clean, modern stylings might be right for you. Or how about a rustic place that takes people back to simpler times? Natural wood surfaces, varnish, and classic imagery on the walls can evoke that nostalgia as good as some hearty old-fashioned food. Décor plays a huge part in the success of a restaurant, but it’s down to how well it fits the food, not just if it looks good by itself.
Music can also play a very important function in the business. For one, it plays a psychological role that can get people to eat quicker, increasing customer turnover and impacting profit. But if that isn’t as much concern to you, then it should be another accompaniment to the food and the décor. Take cultural cues from the food you serve and how your place looks. A Caribbean-themed cocktail restaurant playing reggae muzak, for instance, is committing to a cultural consistency. One good rule for music in a restaurant is to avoid using music with lyrics as much as possible. Music should serve to enhance the ambiance, not to distract from food and company.
The Little Touches
Every small detail should try to fit the theme that the restaurant is committing too. There are a lot of menu templates that can help you ensure that. However, the little details of the restaurant should also be used to reinforce the branding imagery like the logo of the business. You don’t want a logo to be overbearing. If you go too far, it can feel like too commercial an experience, like walking into a Starbucks. However, the little details give you the perfect opportunity to put your mark on the experience. It’s classy, it’s un-intrusive and it still gives credit where credit Is due. The customer experience comes first, but ongoing promotion of the business needs a part to play.
If you get stuck thinking that food and service are the only things that matter in the restaurant business, you might have happy customers but you won’t reach the levels of publicity and love that a restaurant can. Add scene and turn your business into a destination.