You don’t need special training to recognize when a room has good feng shui.
As soon as you walk in, you know the energy is positive: People are enjoying themselves, the space is free of clutter, the aromas are pleasing, and the lighting, colors and sounds all seem to contribute to the harmonious “feel” of the place.&
Nor does feng shui require Asian décor, pricey furnishings or a major renovation. With simple alterations in lighting, sounds, plants and other factors, you can improve the “chi,” or energy of the space and expect better outcomes for everyone who enters.
In a restaurant, of course, those outcomes mean delicious food, energetic and calm employees, higher profits, and happy customers who want to return.
Feng shui, an ancient Chinese practice, is all about symbolism. A perfect example is the aquarium you find in most Asian restaurants, always positioned near the front door (where all good fortunes enter) or the cash register. That’s because in Chinese lore, fish were an important symbol of prosperity, and their fluid movements in water add to the “cash flow” symbolism.
Creating good feng shui in a restaurant isn’t difficult. Your establishment has three main areas—the dining area, kitchen and office—and they all count. Here are some tips to get you started:
- In feng shui, the front entryway is the most important spot; this is where visitors, good fortune and new possibilities enter your space. Make it attractive and free of clutter, so the door opens easily and people will want to open it and walk in.
- Place the cash register where the cashier or bartender has a good view of the door and most of the room. This gives your staff confidence that they can handle any person or situation that enters.
- Potted plants flanking the entrance, inside and out, attract fresh energy to the restaurant and lure new prosperity. A brightly lit entry also attracts good fortune.
- In any space, people will feel safer, more relaxed and in control if they are seated in the “command position,” with a good view of the door and room. People are uncomfortable and don’t enjoy themselves if they’re staring at a wall. If you must seat people facing the wall, take a hint from two-time James Beard winner Susanna Foo, who lined the walls of her Philadelphia (and, later, Radnor, Pennsylvania) restaurant with mirrors so that every diner sat in the command position.
- Red, symbolizing fire, is the most “yang,” or active, color. Used sparingly it can “spark” good conversations, but too much red can encourage heated tempers. Try for a balance—perhaps a touch of red surrounded by softer, natural tones.
- The most effective energy-booster is fresh flowers! Place them on the bar, near the cash register, on tables—wherever you want to create better feng shui.
- After the front door, the stove is the most important spot in feng shui: be sure that all burners are cleared and in good working order. The heat that cooks the food symbolizes the chef’s energy and nourishing intentions.
- A cook should be happy in his work. If he’s feeling nervous or negative, the food will suffer from his bad energy.
- Here, too, it’s vital that the person cooking be in the command position; if the stove is against a wall, place a reflective surface above it (a shiny pot will do) so the chef can see the room behind him and won’t feel vulnerable.
- Piles always signify stagnant energy, which is the last thing you want in your business. Overflowing trash containers, dirty dishes and cluttered or dirty countertops will impede your forward progress, as will dark or inaccessible corners.
- White is the best color for a kitchen, symbolizing a “blank palette” and encouraging creativity.
- Don’t overlook the command position here: Position the desk so that the user can see the door and most of the room as he or she works.
- Use a substantial desk for this important job—no flimsy card tables!
- Likewise, have a sturdy, comfortable desk chair with a solid back to it (no hole exposing part of the sitter’s back). This will make the user feel supported in his or her work.
By Mary Mihaly