How to create the oh-so-perfect ambience for your restaurant

Whether you're starting up or managing an existing restaurant business, you already know that how your restaurant makes your customers feel - the vibe it gives out - is a very important factor for whether people will come back to you or not.   

Here are some expert tips on how to create that oh-so-perfect ambience for your restaurant:

1. Choose the best location

The location is a key criteria to keep in mind when opening a restaurant. Having the best location can be the decisive factor in the success of your enterprise. An ideal establishment would be located in a busy neighbourhood with easy access. Somewhere central which offers facilities such as parking or easy access to public transport is ideal.

You should choose a location that meets specific physical characteristics that can be adapted to the requirements of the concept and budget of your restaurant.

For more detailed advice on this, read: Looking for the perfect location for a cafe? Let these 9 insights help you in your search

2. Décor and design matters

Michael Shen, restaurant reviewer and food photographer of I'm Still Hungry shares that service and décor are important factors in your customers’ minds. While both come second to food quality, it is these two aspects that can really seal the deal when it comes to making a memorable experience. This is how Michael Shen rates restaurants.

If you are going to need professional help with the design and decor of your restaurant, Alexandra Morris, a Sydney-based Commercial Interior Designer, adds that it’s important to always appoint a great designer that has a portfolio of hospitality projects.

3. Plan before doing fit outs and buying equipment

Before you plan your kitchen and the equipment that you require to fit it out, make sure you have a design and cost analysis of your menu and style of food offering.

4. Space constraints shouldn’t be a problem

If you think your space is not big enough, it’s okay. Having an available seating under 10 is still a great way to cut costs not just on your fit out but also on the long-term costs of running your restaurant.

Design your restaurant space to give it a stunning and welcoming atmosphere. Make up for the space constraints by offering a “takeaway” service. This will help you spend less on staff and reduce the need for table service and clean up.

5. Optimise your space

Observe and evaluate the areas of inefficiency in your space to identify where you need to make changes or renovations. Even small changes in your space can lead to a reduction in the number of staff members you need per shift without affecting the service speed or food quality.

Julia Gouye of recently wrote about a concept called the “kitchen work triangle”. It combines design, functionality and efficiency, making it easier for restaurant owners to determine their kitchen layout.

Consider making your kitchen an ergonomic work area to reduce the distance and effort required for your staff to work effectively.

6. Put up a service well

This works best if you have a long bar. Having a service well on both sides will help servers get drinks easily.

7. Re-organise the kitchen

Make sure your kitchen is laid out so that your staff can work efficiently and even multitask – e.g. working on the fish station and the fryer at the same time.

8. Consider an open kitchen

Open kitchens have become a trend these days because customers love it when the cooking process is part of their dining experience. They appreciate being able to see how their meals are prepared. Aside from assuring your customers of your kitchen’s hygiene, this setting develops trust, creates atmosphere, and further adds value to your restaurant.

A friendly reminder from Alexandra Morris of  Morris Selvatico Interior Designs – don’t put in an open kitchen if you don’t have any theatrically-interesting cooking to showcase. They might be in fashion at the moment, but there is nothing worse than seeing into an unclean or uninteresting kitchen.

9. Get Instagram-worthy tableware and table linens

Customers love sharing their food on social media. The more picture-perfect the presentation of your dishes are, the more likely it will get posted on Instagram or Facebook.

Aside from influencing food tastes, nice tableware and table setting will also encourage customers to talk about you. Simply serve dishes that will excite your customers and they’ll be more than happy to share their experiences with their entire social networks.

10. Improve your lighting

According to Alexandra Morris of Morris Selvatico Interior Design, lighting is often overlooked by restaurant business owners – especially if they are on a budget. Make sure you don’t make this mistake as it is one of the most important elements when designing a restaurant/café.

11. Get stylish but functional chairs and tables

Mary Todd of Ke-zu Furniture shares her insights on the best chairs to use in a restaurant.

  • Apart from the aesthetics, make sure the chairs are functionally suitable by considering the dimensions, materials, and finishes carefully.
  • When considering chairs be mindful of the design from the back. That is what you actually see in the space.
  • On a practical level chairs with a gap between seats and back allow for easier cleaning.
  • Tables with central bases as opposed to legs provide greater versatility in table arrangement and allow people to get in and out of chairs with greater ease.

12. The psychology of colour

Niccolo Borgonovo of Protech Hospitality also shares a great business plan tip on using colours in a restaurant. Colours play an important role in generating a hospitable environment in cafés or restaurants. The colour that is rarely seen in cafes is blue and the reason behind that lies in its ability to distract one’s mind away from food. On the other hand, colours like orange, red and green stimulate the appetite and increase cravings. This is why the right colour combination will not only help you maximise hospitability but will also generate customer satisfaction

These tips was first published on's  100+ more tips on restaurant planning strategies article. Alsco offers cost-efficient rental services that are tailored for your business. including first aid kit rentals and training services, linen and workwear, and hygiene systems.