The third of RMGT’s series on restaurant mistakes looks a common interior design and facilities errors. We talk to restaurant consultant Aaron Allen who reveals the mistakes restaurants often make and what they can do to correct them:
1. Cluttered host/greeting station
Restaurant guests should see eyes and teeth instead of reservation books, tins of mints and nick-knacks. Seeing a person is much more welcoming than anything else.
2. Inefficient floor plans, wait stations, bar setups, and table configurations
It’s worth consulting with an architect before you build out a restaurant but you can also do this down the line if you’re already open. In some cases configurations don’t allow for enough seating capacity in your restaurant or they create one table that becomes an island with too much traffic flowing around it. Managers should sit in each table as if they’re a guest over a period of time to see if there’s too much traffic, too much noise.
Inefficient plans can create extra work for servers; unpleasant experiences for the guests; and can lower yield management—they don’t allow for as many chairs or chairs that would mean more revenue to the restaurant.
3. Clunky, dirty/dusty, or irrelevant decorations that don’t help tell the brand story
To tell the brand story, first write the brand story, then make sure every thing in your restaurant tells the brand promise, its personality, its positioning and the story.
Every single item—even the quality of a fork—tells customers something so ask yourself if your art or decorations are there just to fill a space.
4. Exposed dirty or untidy service areas
Servers and managers can get desensitized to these areas but should always look for things that are unsightly—even loud printers. Diners shouldn’t see backstage in a restaurant.
5. Bathroom doors that pull in rather than push out
In a lot of restaurant designs, it’s just as easy for the architect to have the bathroom door push out, which is what diners prefer so they don’t have to touch it. If you can’t have the door pushing out, make sure there’s a trash can in the bathroom, near the door, otherwise you’ll have a pile of used paper towels near the door left by people who didn’t want to touch the handle.
6. Acoustical issues (music or ambient noise too loud or too low)
Too low—no sounds from music or other diners—creates an uncomfortable environment that can be creepy or sleepy. This can even carry through to the restroom—it’s uncomfortable if it’s really quiet and people can’t hear the restaurant noise and there’s no ambient noise.
But noise levels shouldn’t be too high. Music should not drown out speech and sound-dampening furniture such as drapes and couches should be used so speech doesn’t reverberate.
7. Spending too much money on linens or cleaning services which could be revamped
Sometimes restaurants use linens to hide bad tables but after they’ve paid for regular cleaning, it might be cheaper to buy a new table. And sometimes they use linens on a perfectly good table. So really examine if you need those things. And if you do, find a different kind of linen that you can clean yourself rather than sending out.
8. Inefficient use of space (storage, prep, service stations, POS stations, etc.)
Every square foot of a restaurant has a cost associated with it—either with the build-out, or rent, or the maintenance of it. Look at whether, for example, one piece of equipment could replace several pieces of equipment. Or could you have POS stations in different places to save servers steps, or could the POS even be handheld to save them even more steps? Always examine your sales per square foot and examine benchmarks for sales per square foot averages on a category basis.
By Amanda Baltazar
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