PLANNING THE INTERIORS OF AN OUTLET
The total dining experience comprises not only food and beverage served but also the atmosphere created. Ambiance or interiors of a restaurant play a major role in attracting and keeping the business. The major elements of interiors are (a) décor, (b) lighting, (c) color, and (d) furniture. We will be discussing these four elements individually.
Décor means decoration of the place. It mainly consists of fixtures, fittings, picture frames, paintings, and other artifacts. By changing the décor, we can change the ambiance of a restaurant. While creating perfect décor, managers should not neglect operations. The décor should not interrupt the smooth operations. Decorative items should be of commercial quality to withstand wear and tear. They must be easy to clean and hygienic. Another major point to consider is safety. Some common safety issues are listed below:
The smooth and slippery floor in the outlet looks very elegant and shiny. But it leads to many accidents.
Exposed rough or sharp edges of tables and chairs can hurt people in the operations.
Splinters and nails of tables and chairs can hurt guests.
Unmarked glass doors can lead to accidents.
Steps must be railed and lighted to avoid tripping-over.
Hanging decorations or low ceilings must be marked.
An emergency exists should not be blocked with decorative items.
The above-given factors should be considered while designing the décor of an outlet.
Pictures or wall hangings and other decorative items need to use with great care to portray a particular theme. For example, a nautical or marine theme can be achieved by placing various ship models, paintings of anchors, fishing nets, wall hanging buoys, and shells. These items can be located based on the space available and the color contrast.
Modern designers are showing interest in using a variety of lighting and light sources. A wide range of effects can be created by contrasting different lights. Lighting in food and beverage outlets is mainly categorized into two kinds.
Functional lighting: This kind of lighting is required for operation in the back area and kitchen. It is also required on tables to enable the guest to read the menu and see the food and beverage presentation. This kind of lighting amounts as much as 75 percent of the total restaurant lighting. Functional lighting is more common on tablets, at buffet counters, display articles, and on the pictures and paintings.
Decorative lighting: This kind of lighting is used to create ambiance and décor. It is a part of the decoration. This included wall bracket lamps, serial lamps, and picture focus lamps, etc.
To create a correct ambiance with correct illumination, one should use different types of lightings in the correct combination. There are two main types of lightings used in food and beverage establishments. They are incandescent lights and fluorescent lights.
Incandescent lighting is warm and inviting. But these lights are less energy-efficient to operate. And the yellow hue of the bulbs may change the natural color of the food items. Fluorescent lighting is known for the lower operating cost. Natural colors are not shaded by the white light. But it is often criticized for its pale, dull, and lifeless illumination. Therefore, it is advisable to use a combination of both the lights in balance to create a warm, romantic, and bright atmosphere. Many experts recommend 70 percent of fluorescent and 30 percent of incandescent light in the total lighting system. This gives a mood of enjoying the meal and a pleasant, natural appearance to the food items. Expert restaurant designers use tips from the ‘psychology of lighting’ in developing lighting systems for a restaurant. Below are a few tips on creating a correct lighting system:
– Brighter or strong lighting is not comfortable to eyes, thus gives a message of ‘eat quickly and leave.’
– Soft lighting creates a mood of ‘relax and dine at leisure.’
– Sparkles enhance appetite and encourage conversation.
– Spotlights on seating areas should be avoided. Guests should be surrounded by light rather than spotting them.
– Candles between people draw them together.
– Direct lighting to be countered with soft lighting.
To keep the desired mood and effect of lighting, dimming systems are widely used around the world. In modern days most of the specialty outlets are opting for semi-automatic or fully automatic dimmer systems. These automatic dimmer systems are preset with different combinations of lighting. By just selecting any one mode of lighting on the dimmer system, the combination can be changed between dim and romantic mood for dinner, and a bright and cheerful mood for lunch.
The colors used in dining areas affect the atmosphere. Designers follow a wide range of rules while selecting colors. Great care must be taken while choosing the right color since food and color are closely associated. The color scheme used must reflect the character of the restaurant. Usually, white, cream, beige, blue, and yellow are the most used colors in food and beverage establishments. A combination of different colors can be used to balance and to create the desired effect. Colors also affect the mood of the guests. It is observed that cool colors such as light green, blue, and violet give a relaxed dining experience. In contrast, war5m colors such as yellow, red and orange will stimulate activity; thus, encourage fast table turnover.
Colors also have an impact on the room size. A small room can be showcased as a large room by painting it with some bright colors. Similarly, a large area can be painted with a dark color to give a more intimate feel.
The dining room furniture is available in a wide variety, and it can fit in any atmosphere and décor if selected properly. Great care must be taken while selecting furniture because it is an expensive decision. The cost of furniture makes nearly 50 percent of the total initial investment.
The next important factor to be considered is the ‘comfort’ of the guests. Heavily cushioned furniture gives a sinking feeling and is not comfortable while dining. Hard surfaces are also not suitable for long sitting and relaxed meal. Furniture should not occupy too much space. Professionals should consider the table size requirements, compatibility with the theme, and materials used for the furniture.
Wood is the most commonly used material for the dining room furniture. Various types of woods are used to suit the décor and theme. Wood is most preferred because it is strong, rigid, stylish, and able to resist wear and tear. Metals such as aluminum, steel, and brass and other materials such as plastic, vinyl, and fiberglass re also used in modern days to create attractive and contemporary furniture. Selected furniture must support the type of operations, keeping the guest comfort in mind.