We don’t need to tell you how much the hospitality industry has faced over the past couple of years.
Undoubtedly one of the worst affected sectors throughout the pandemic, restaurants have adapted and innovated to cater to an ever-changing landscape.
With many parts of the world finally getting back to a sense of normality, today we’re closing the book on the past and looking ahead to the future.
Exploring three sleek and stylish design trends set to dominate in 2022, here’s the hottest restaurant interior and exterior fads sure to remain thriving in a post-pandemic world.
As a means of surviving lockdowns, many restaurants extended their business model to incorporate takeout options.
Whether this takeout and delivery service was run internally or offered through third parties like UberEats and Grubhub, shifting the business model helped countless restaurants weather the storm.
With normality resuming, many restaurants are now looking to continue offering takeout and delivery after the service proved both popular and profitable.
In fact, in the U.S., the market more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, following healthy historical growth of 8 percent.
Of course, during lockdowns, restaurant designs caused no hurdles in providing this service. The busy comings and goings of delivery drivers were mitigated by the lack of indoor diners, while kitchen staff and servers didn’t need to worry about what orders were going out where.
However, with the welcomed return of diners, restaurant owners continuing to offer takeout should look to make some smart interior design changes.
The trick is to champion an open-plan versatility that can complement high levels of footfall without feeling crowded and chaotic.
It’s vital your diners’ experience isn’t disrupted, so also look to incorporate more than one serving counter—one for in-house diners and another for delivery drivers and customer collections.
Your open-plan floor space should be able to accommodate this without impacting much of your overall interior design or aesthetic.
Just ensure counters, waiting areas and collection points are appropriately signposted to avoid unnecessary overcrowding (and aimless wandering) around front of house.
Outdoor dining provided a safer means of visiting restaurants throughout the pandemic, leading to more and more businesses rushing to create outdoor areas.
While the restrictions may have loosened, the popularity of outdoor dining certainly hasn’t wavered.
Instead, it’s estimated that restaurants with outdoor dining can increase revenue by up to 30 percent and attract more guest demographics.
With this in mind, restaurants without outside dining areas should consider embracing the outdoors, providing you have the space to do so.
Be sure to take the time to thoroughly plan the practicalities of your outdoor dining area. How much space do you need? How many tables and chairs will you need? How will you protect the space from the elements?
Your material choices play an invaluable role in appropriately weather-proofing an outdoor dining space, so don’t overlook these important aspects.
For example, opt for tableware and chairs in durable materials such as coated wood or steel. Opting for furniture in weatherproof materials will also save you the effort of having to relay your outdoor dining space every day.
Don’t forget about your flooring choice, too. You’ll need to be conscious of ensuring an even flooring space to minimize hazards and abide by safety regulations, so it’s always best to lay a purpose-built flooring for any outdoor area.
Of course, this flooring will need to boast robust durability and longevity to withstand all weather conditions, as well as the heavy footfall and unavoidable spills of your day to day business. Practical and low-maintenance outdoor tiles are often the best option here.
That’s not to say restaurants that already have outdoor dining areas can kick back and relax. Instead, look to learn lessons from how outdoor dining trends evolved throughout the pandemic to ensure you’re staying at the forefront.
For example, one craze we observed was the introduction of outdoor dining pods.
Creating intimate dining pods around each outdoor table was originally intended to be a social distancing measure, but since then their popularity has skyrocketed. Customers enjoy the unique experience of private dining that still embraces the ambience of the restaurant.
Like it or loathe it, customers love Instagram—and like it or loathe it, customers love Instagramming pictures of their food.
As many restaurant owners will be well aware, these food snaps can be super-effective in marketing your business without you having to lift a finger.
One trend we’ve observed recently is the rise in younger audiences not just posting their food, but posting stylish snaps of trendy restaurant interiors, too.
With this in mind, why not embrace a distinctive and trendy aesthetic that social media users just can’t resist capturing?
Walls of greenery, cool murals, bold wall prints and neon signs are all great examples of post-worthy decor features sure to “vibe” with millennial and Gen Z demographics.
In turn, these posts can drive users’ families, friends and followers to your restaurant, effortlessly boosting your marketing efforts at no extra cost. Should you really hit the mark, you may even find your business on popular “listicles,” like this one.
Whatever decor choice you make, just ensure it not only complements the rest of your interior but is also undoubtedly ‘on brand’. When pursuing new trends, never forget the fundamental importance of branding in your restaurant’s design.
In 2022, the interior and exterior design of restaurants really matter to customers - in many cases, it can be the deciding factor when choosing whether to dine with you.
So, no matter if you’re embarking on a complete restaurant renovation or simply making minor updates to your space, embrace some of the latest design trends to ensure your restaurant doesn’t get left behind.
Suhayl Laher works at Tiles Direct, one of the U.K.’s largest independent tile distributors and retailers—bringing design inspiration to homeowners, architects and developers.