Achieving a Glow: Perfecting Lighting for Your Restaurant

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The key factors in perfecting lighting for your restaurant can be summed up with the acronym “Faces”:

• Food
• Ambiance
• Comfort
• Effect
• Safety

Food: Having the right kind of quality lighting for your restaurant is undeniably vital to offering your customers the best dining experience, and that starts with the appearance of your food. Improper lighting does not show off your signature dishes in the best possible manner and can even make your most colorful creation appear dull and boring. The right kind of lighting will make your menu pop and enhance the visual appeal of your food.

Ambiance: When designing your restaurant, lighting is an essential element in creating the ambiance you desire. Studies have shown that many restaurant diners left a venue earlier than planned because it was too brightly or too poorly lit. Proper lighting in your restaurant can produce the perfect ambiance for your guests. This is good for business, as keeping your customers happy and in their seats results in a better dining experience for them and more referrals to friends, family, and coworkers for you.

Comfort: Restaurant patrons stay longer than they plan to when the lighting is warm and cozy, making them feel relaxed and welcome. Guests should be able to read their menus with ease and see their food clearly. Avoid glare by placing lamps strategically just outside the natural field of vision. Using frosted glass can be useful is diffusing any light that could be reflected into a diner’s view from a mirror or shiny surface. Lighting that produces an aura of comfort and makes your diners want to remain in or return to your restaurant is a design element that adds an intangible benefit and can greatly add to the customer’s dining experience.

Effect: When designing the perfect lighting for your restaurant, remember that lighting choices should complement your design, not compete with it or dominate it, and should be central to your overall theme, not an afterthought. Whereas bright, direct overhead lighting works well in the kitchen, pendant lights, dimmers, and indirect lighting can create a more relaxed, comfortable setting in the dining area. If your restaurant includes outdoor or patio areas, string lights, floor lamps, and outdoor pendants work well to illuminate those spaces. Outdoor landscape lighting fixtures can add safety and help create a mood for your guests before they step through your doors. It can also highlight the beauty and design of your restaurant entrance and surrounding grounds and using cost effective LED and low-voltage lighting can add up to significant savings both in energy and maintenance costs over time.

Safety: Proper lighting is vital to the success of your restaurant, not only to achieve the glow you want and increase the comfort level of your diners, and as a result, increase your revenue, but also for the sake of safety and utility in work areas such as the kitchen. If there is a safety hazard present such as a spill, workers must be able to spot it and correct the problem before it becomes an issue. Lighting directed toward entrances and exits enhances the safety of your patrons entering and exiting your establishment, as well.

Lastly, keep in mind that in order to achieve the aesthetic that says your restaurant is the place to dine for satisfying, quality food and a relaxing, enjoyable experience, your potential customers must be able to see it. Many times, a potential customer will take a peek inside your restaurant windows while walking or driving by and make an instant judgment about what lies behind your doors. If your establishment is empty during peak dining periods, consumers may think there’s something wrong with your food or service. If your windows are outfitted with blinds, keep them open during the early evening hours to make your interior more inviting. While maintaining privacy might be important, blocked windows might make the difference between potential customers passing you by or stepping inside and becoming regular patrons.