When designing a restaurant there are many key issues to consider including the theme and the desired market segment. Is the restaurant focusing on a “to go” atmosphere or a more casual, family friendly dine in? The first impression is very important and construction materials have a great role in the desired outcome. For example, the feel of carpet is very different than the feel of stained concrete. Selecting the right lighting to create the ambiance is another important topic. Depending on the type of restaurant the dining room will be equipped with tables, booths, drink counter, etc. Wall colors and ceiling type will determine the customer’s experience. A visible theme that ties in with the name of a restaurant is a great way to spread the restaurant’s brand. Themes that have value without overwhelming the customer experience can be present in the subtleness of the selected materials.
Quick service brands are characterized by fast food cuisine and by minimal table service. Food served in these types of venues typically offer limited menu choices. Sometimes, the food is finished and packaged to order; and is usually available ready to take away. In some instances seating may be provided. Cashier’s area where customers pay may be located right after ordering the food. Casual or family style restaurants are restaurants that have a fixed, more ample menu, usually with diners seated at a table. They also may have a full bar with beer and a wine menu. Fine dining restaurants are full service restaurants with specific dedicated meal courses. The design of such restaurants features higher quality construction materials. There is also an area for the hostess to take reservations with a place to store menus and seating for customers that are waiting to be served.
Lighting design can affect a clients’ perception of the space. Lighting provides two major functions: emphasis in the design theme creating shadows and contrast and efficiency for diners to be able to read the menu and see their meals. Table lamps can provide a balancing light supply if glare can be prevented. Up lights can shine upward casting light on the surface above them and when placed on the floor, around plants, and other objects, they add to the atmosphere by creating staged shadows. Down lights can be positioned to cast light on the floor and tables. They can also be recessed into the ceiling, or be hidden in the ceiling beams. They can also highlight an entrance area, cashier’s station, individual dining room tables, or other special arrangements. Spotlights are used as accent lighting. Exterior lighting often makes the first impression, as well as, provides a sense of security to customers. Outdoor lighting should provide safety by illuminating steps, sidewalks, and other hazards.
Commercial kitchen design is another important part of the restaurant flow. For example, the type of food will determine the required hood rating. Typically, the floors are required to be porcelain tile or quarry tile and fiber reinforced panels may be required in all areas of food preparation. Hand wash sinks are required at pre-described distances. Depending on the municipality, the amount and types of sinks will vary. The kitchen size will depend on the restaurant concept. Sufficient room should be planned to accommodate equipment such as shelves, utensils and ingredients, prep tables, stoves, ovens, broilers, fryers, etc. Food storage areas include larger equipment such as walk in cooler and walk in freezer. The kitchen layout may have an office with desk, file cabinet and office supplies. The employee section should include an area to store personal items.
All in all, when dining out, the atmosphere of the restaurant is often as important as the food it serves. Part of being a restaurant architect is getting every detail to be part of one design. A restaurant design cannot have its own identity, its own brand without a consistent plan. Restaurant proliferation of the past years has led to an increase in both their amount and variety. Costumer expectations have risen considerably and the restaurants experience has become so much more than simply a place to eat, but the ultimate entertainment experience.