Dala Al Fuwaires
House of Form

“The food and the design of your restaurant should encapsulate all the senses,” Dala Al Fuwaires says.

3 Overlooked Aspects of Restaurant Design

You must design your restaurant with strong function and flow in mind.

When it comes to a quality restaurant the two things people think about the most are the food and the ambiance. A restaurant with great food and a great atmosphere will keep patrons coming back. Most chefs have the food part down but can miss the mark when it comes to creating the perfect atmosphere. One of the best ways to improve the ambiance is to build an experience through the interior and architectural design of your restaurant. Here are a few things restauranteurs tend to overlook when designing their restaurant.

Know your concept and use it to create experiential dining

Restaurant owners often craft a menu full of delicious food but struggle to use that menu to build an amazing concept. Brian Laubenthal, principal of Scottsdale architecture firm Aline Architecture Concepts, says a restaurant owner's menu is a great tool for guiding the design of the restaurant.

“So many restaurateurs struggle to find a design concept for their restaurant and they don’t know that their menu is the key to finding one,” Laubenthal says. “Food is an experience so craft the experience of your space around the food.”

What type of food are you making and what are the qualities that you associate with that food. If you are big on all-natural ingredients and locally source food then design your space around that concept. For example, you could use natural tones and lighting to craft a space that seamlessly blends the outdoors with the indoors. You can then use only locally sourced materials to build the space as well as purchase locally sourced seating and art.

“Your main goal is to create a unique experience and the best way to do that is to design your space with your values in mind,” Laubenthal adds. “If you believe in locally sourced food then it makes the experience better when you apply those values to your restaurant's design. It shows the experience you are creating is genuine.”

Dala Al Fuwaires, owner of Scottsdale interior design firm House of Form, says restaurants should strive to create an experiential dining experience through their design.

“The food and the design of your restaurant should encapsulate all the senses,” Al Fuwaires says. “this means the dining experience should incorporate unique sights, sounds, smells, and taste.”

This means integrating all the senses into your design choices. For example, a garden-themed restaurant may decorate their restaurant with floral decorations, use monitors to mimic the image of a garden landscape, craft cocktails with floral aromas, and play calm music through a speaker.

“Restaurant owners should consider implementing more of these sensory factors into their design,” Al Fuwaires says. “Experiential dining makes your food and your space stand out from the pack.”

Design your restaurant for day and night

Restaurant owners should seek to craft spaces that accommodate different dining experiences during different times of the day.

“Diners are interested in spaces that they can go to during the day and night,” Al Fuwaires says. “You want to craft a space that works for coffee as well as cocktails and design your restaurant to accommodate those different experiences.”

Restaurant owners should know what their space looks like when the lights are on or off. Design your space with things that can have a high impact in low light scenarios such as heavy textures, bar fronts, and fabrics on bar stools.

Select lighting fixtures that allow for intimate dim lights at night and design spaces that allow for lots of natural light to shine during the day.

Don’t neglect restaurant flow

You must design your restaurant with strong function and flow in mind. Ensuring that staff and customers are able to move in and out of different spaces as efficiently as possible.

“The restaurant should be designed to ensure staff is out of each other's way and able to expedite food to the customer,” Laubenthal says. “Avoid congestion between cooking, bussing, and waiting staff.

Customer flow means that patrons are able to easily navigate where to go.

“Bar, outdoor patio, dining area, and restrooms should be designed in a way that the customer does not have to think about them or move awkwardly because you didn’t design enough room in your space,” Laubenthal says. “It should be easy for the customer to go from the waiting area, to the bar, to their table. A restaurant that designs with efficient flow in mind will create a better dining experience.”

Max Lancaster is a freelance writer in Phoenix Arizona.