A restaurant for me has to look good as well as taste good, it would have to be a Michelin 5* meal for me to not worry about the interior design although I did have a Michelin chef cooked steak in a corporate meeting once which was amazing, but we were still sat in a glass box with laminated cupboards and a projector above my head so.....
.....if you’re as hard to please as I am or indeed a restaurant owner you’ll probably appreciate my list of approval and scorn below:
Interior design your toilets!
The tiles are falling off, the grout is mouldy, the floor is torn and dirty, the doors and locks are faulty, the mirrors are not ample or non-existant, there’s water pooling on the surfaces the toilet roll holder is broken, there are hand towels on the floor, the 99p anti-bac soap sits there in it’s bright blue glory (classy), the lighting is ugly I could go on – and on – and on.
Clearly, my number one pet hate in restaurant design is shabby bathroom facilities. If I go out for a meal where the food is great, the ambience is right, the décor is attractive and well thought through but then I go to powder my nose and YET AGAIN the toilets are a mess, it just ruins my perception of the place.
The number one fail of restaurant owners is forgetting to budget for the smallest room which, inevitably every customer sees and is then a poor reflection on the restaurant’s attention to detail.
Get your toilet interiors sorted!
Do the Industrial look.
Please, there are plenty of good Industrial looking bars and restaurants out there already – too many. Also tables made from scaffolding look cheap not charming. Instead look at future or classic trends along with clever space planning to ensure that the place feels fresh, beautiful and relevant. Look around at design shows, blogs and magazines or get us in to help.
Make it a feast for the eyes.
I recently dined at a North London Gastropub. Perfectly good food but god it was boring to sit in. Apart from a poorly executed attempt to hang second-hand portraits’ on the wall the place was bare, the lighting too bright and the white walls were incongruous in the typically Victorian space.
When it comes to bar and restaurant interior design it takes a little more than a white-wash and "how many mis-matched tables can I squeeze in here?". Attention to detail and an individual personality that’ll set your business apart from others, whose food may be as good or better than yours, is paramount in ensuring success over the competition.
You need a comprehensive design, you need props, you need to be unique and exciting and you need beautiful materials (which needn’t be expensive with the right application).
Go plastic on your seating.
Budget permitting and assuming you’re not a Chicken Shop, it pays to go for natural materials such as leather, wood and commercial-grade upholstery fabric. The customer does not appreciate a sweaty backside and thighs especially if they’re on a dinner date. Customers with a discerning eye can tell if it’s PVC and I can guarantee that your dining area will look all the more special and characterful for this small exchange.
For the most recent restaurant interior design project we completed, we opted for leather banquettes and chairs instead of plastic. Yes it was more expensive but it looks fantastic and they tell the diner that this is a sophisticated dining experience. They also had brilliantly designed toilets *brag
Make sure that your restaurant looks open – when it is.
I’ve walked by too many London establishments where the window treatments are too effective or the lighting is so dim it looks like you’re not ready for business. Lighting is probably the most important element in interior design, yet is often an afterthought for the owner who knows a lot about how to run the place but not too much about interiors and how they work to attract customers.
At the very least have good lighting on the outside, keep those windows un or partially obscured and get input on the lighting design to make sure that the ambience is perfect.
Enlist help wherever the budget permits. I’ve seen it too many times where the owner, who’s skills lie in designing and preparing amazing food, then tries his/her hand at interior design by copying something he/she's seen. Then, settling for the first semi-interesting chair or light fixture because he/she doesn’t have the time to find the perfect one or know where to go to get something really special (we can spot IKEA and Made.com a mile off mate). So unless you’re extremely design-savvy it’s best to get the experts in. When trying to design your restaurant there are various levels of service, so if a full-design service is not for you, at least get a plan and design that you can show to your builders and confidently stamp your individuality and style on your exciting new venture. Plus wouldn’t you prefer to concentrate on the menu instead of the toilet roll holders?
Contact us for a free visit from one of our designers
One of London's Best Interiors Bloggers (Ideal Home magazine), The Open Plan Interior Design, London produces contemporary interiors for homes and business' and this very useful home interiors blog