Creating Atmosphere in Your Restaurant
And let’s be honest: if it were all about the food and drink, then we wouldn’t invest so much of our energy and resources into designing attractive dining spaces that inspire diners to settle in, splash out and enjoy time spent with others. The fact that restaurateurs invest so much in atmosphere to begin with signals an implicit understanding of just how important the look and feel of your dining room is.
The Democratisation of Luxury
All around the world, the luxury industry is taking off, with estimates regarding the global demand for luxury goods weighing in at around US$200 billion. Admittedly, luxury goods and fine dining are two different products, but they’re both linked to the same human impulses and desires.
And perhaps most interesting is that the quest for luxury and fine dining experiences is no longer limited to the usual suspects – Michelin starred restaurants, opulent hotels in London and designer fashion shows in Paris or Milan. Instead, you’re just as likely to happen onto world-class fine dining in the Midlands as you are in a major metropolis. In a way, we’ve seen a democratisation of luxury.
The sense that luxurious experiences are now available for everyone is prompting many to look for small ways to splurge and indulge closer to home. For example, from our depot in Nuneaton, we’ve noted that restaurateurs across the Midlands are interested in learning more about enhancing the atmosphere by having higher quality linens shipped directly to them.
With that in mind, even if your restaurant is modestly priced, there are still opportunities to enhance the atmosphere and deliver a higher-value experience without breaking the budget. The key is to look at the little things – the texture of the linens, the placement of centrepieces, the arrangement of tables and the selection of music in the evening. All of these work in ensemble (and at relatively small cost) to cultivate a more luxurious dining atmosphere. Your patrons will take notice.
A Luxurious Atmosphere Inspires More Spending
Creating a more luxurious and satisfying dining atmosphere is going to accomplish more than simply pleasing your customers and prompting them to return. It’s also likely to inspire them to spend more when they visit.
There is plenty of research to suggest that consumers spend more when surrounded by the trappings of luxury. One study conducted at the University of Leicester found that dining patrons spent more when classical music played instead of pop.
Classical music is synonymous with luxury, and simply playing it in the background had the psychological effect of making diners feel as if they were more affluent. Switching the musical track is a simple way to transform the ambiance, and it incurs no additional expense.
How to Enhance the Ambiance in Your Restaurant
For the remainder of this post, we’re going to look at a few tips you can follow in order to cultivate a more affluent and luxurious atmosphere in your restaurant:
Know your diners
Before you can effectively target your diners, you need to have a precise grasp of who they are and what they like. If they prefer more casual and relaxed atmosphere, then the trappings of white linen service may be a bit much for them. Likewise, diners who prefer the fanfare of wine service, tableside theatrics and crisp serviettes are going to be turned off by more casual ambiance
Master the lighting
It’s amazing how much attention a good interior designer will give to the lighting. You can have immaculate table settings, amazing cuisine and impeccable service – but if the lighting is wrong, diners aren’t going to feel comfortable. Some experts even say that lights need to be bright enough to see, but dim enough not to cast long shadows or expose bags under the eyes. Shadows like this can give others the impression that a person is tired, which in turn serves to send everyone on their way when they made have stayed for desert or another round.
Be mindful of music
We already mentioned above how music can affect diners’ proclivity to spend. Beyond that, it’s also important to remain constantly aware of what music is playing and how loud. Ideally, it should be quiet enough to permit conversation but loud enough to hear and even focus on if so desired. You may also find that the atmosphere at lunch warrants a different style or selection of music to what feels appropriate at dinner. The key is to maintain control over this variable at all times, so that you can leverage it to your advantage.
Orchestrate all the variables
Perhaps most important to creating more effective ambiance in your restaurant is the ability to weave all of the factors together into a symphony of subtle cues. It will take some research and experimentation to find, for example, that pop music played in the 70-90 dB range tends to up the consumption of soft drinks, or that the scent of lavender in a restaurant encourages diners to stay longer (and presumably keep ordering). Any of these variables might have a nominal effect by themselves. But taken in conjunction with several other subtle factors like this, you may begin to see tangible differences in performance of your restaurant.
Relevant to Restaurants of All Types
The ambiance and atmosphere in your restaurant may seem intangible, but it’s still exerts strong influence on your customers. And this is not just an area of interest for posh, fine dining establishments in upscale neighbourhoods. The key is to identify your target customers and work to understand what moves them.
So whether you’re operating a refined French restaurant in Manchester, complete with crisp linens and wine service, or a more laid-back Birmingham gastropub or Liverpool café, it’s worth taking time to reflect on the venue’s ambiance and look for ways that you can exercise more control over it.