Always aim to be unique.

As we settle into 2022, many restaurant owners will consider redesigning their restaurants. It is important to update your restaurant every so often to attract new customers and give regular guests something new and exciting. Having a popular restaurant takes more than having great food and drinks. It takes creating a memorable space that will bring in new patrons and keep them coming back.

Having been in the hospitality design industry for more than a decade I have seen many popular restaurants design trends come and go. Here are a few restaurant trends restaurants will use in the future.

Design for the senses

Restaurant design shouldn’t just be pleasing to the eyes. Consider all the senses when designing your space. You can achieve this by using experiential design techniques. An experientially designed restaurant engages a patron’s senses to create a unique experience they will not forget.

One way to create a unique space that attracts all the senses is by using biophilic design. This design process involves using techniques that bring the outdoors inside. Using vegetation and floral arrangements in the design will make patrons feel like they are in an outdoor garden oasis and not cooped up in a dark restaurant. When using this design process, it is important to use natural tones for bar fronts, tables, and seating to replicate those colors found in nature. Also consider using terrazzo, a composite material used in floor and wall treatments to help tie in elements like wood and stone.

When creating your menu work with an interior designer. The designer can help you tie in the aesthetic of the restaurant with the food and drinks you are serving. If the restaurant has a garden them consider creating drinks that have floral elements. For darker themed spaces, like steakhouses, consider creating drinks infused with smoke and maple. Tying the menu to the design of the restaurant will create an immersive experience that will keep customers coming back.

Eliminating distractions

As a restaurant owner you want the focus to be on the food, cocktails, a service the establishment provides. As customers return to restaurants, they want to be able to interact with each other and not have unnecessary distractions. One of the largest distractions in a restaurant are TVs. Often restaurants will have televisions mounted in multiple areas with different sporting events playing. When you have many TVs mounted the customers often to focus on them instead of the people they are at the restaurant with.

Eliminate TVs from the walls so your guests can enjoy their time together without distractions. When making the decision to eliminate TVs you must understand the aesthetic of your restaurant. If you are a sports bar, then obviously you will want to keep the TVs. If you are a high-end cocktail bar or steakhouse then they aren’t necessary. By eliminating TVs, the customers will focus on the food and service rather than the big game.

COVID-inspired restaurant trends

As restaurants began opening after COVID subsided many restaurant owners put in place different techniques to keep people safe. Socially distanced tables, dining pods and barriers are a few of the things owners implemented. Restaurant owners can still use these safety designs to create a unique space. Yet, many of these designs are out of date as more people are receiving the vaccine.

One way restaurant owners kept people safe was the use of plastic domes. Instead of continuing the use of these domes consider using high back seating that make the guest feel as if they are in a space of their own. Use architectural elements that allow for transparency but also create separation from other customers. Instead of using solid walls or plexiglass, use different materials to create see-through walls. Using these materials allows for separation amongst the guests but allows people to feel they are part of the environment.

Dining pods are another possibility to consider. Dining pods make a table feel like an intimate space. The patron can enjoy being in the public area while feeling safe. Dining pods are often used in spaces where people want a private experience such as a first date or wedding anniversary dinner.

These are a few of the design trends I see coming up in 2022 for restaurants. Remember you want to create a space that draws in customers, keeps them there, brings them back, and makes them tell their friends about the experience. Always aim to be unique in your design.

Dala Al-Fuwaires is the Owner and Principal Designer at House of Form in Scottsdale, Arizona. House of Form is a boutique hospitality design firm that specializes in creating memorable spaces for your guests and customers.

Expert Takes, Feature, Restaurant Design