Create your ambiance
A restaurant’s atmosphere sets the stage. It’s about more than just a dining room away from home. Food takes the spotlight as guests become its audience. Factors such as music, lighting, artwork and spacing combine to create comfort, intimacy and even romance.
“Atmosphere – it’s of the utmost importance. It’s very key. The lighting has to be right. And table settings have to as well. It’s about trying to space tables out nicely so you have that atmosphere no matter how busy you are,” says Scott Andrews, operations manager at hotel and restaurant Gidleigh Park.
The Devon destination received two stars as well as four forks and spoons for comfort in the 2014 Great Britain & Ireland Michelin Guide. He explains just how much thinking goes into dining room layouts.
The following are some of the key factors which create a good restaurant atmosphere.
1. Restaurant concept.
2.Focusing on your customers.
7. Dishes, silver ware, and linens.
Provide space and a focal point
“We try to ensure people aren’t sat on top of each other. They have a good amount of space between them. We need to look at that very carefully. If you have a large table in a dining room you want to make sure they’re away from others. We try not to put small tables in with large ones because they’d just get overpowered. There are so many elements you have to take into mind,” he says.
Artwork also plays a part. Paintings hang on the walls of Gidleigh Park as they do at many restaurants. Andrews says: “It sets the mood to portray to your guests. It also gives them a point of interest. There’s nothing worse than staring at a bare wall. You do need a focal point in any room but nothing too overpowering.”
Your STaff are part of the atmosphere
“The main thing we do here at Gidleigh for atmosphere is the staff. We try to get that balance between professionalism and care and being attentive without being stiff and overbearing. We’re there when the guests need us, and when we’re not, we’re stood back keeping an eye,” he says.
Tailoring to a customer’s needs reverts to the same principle of keeping things natural. Service is not forced and neither is a vibrant atmosphere. These restaurants strive to make the dining experience as organic as possible. They enjoy the best atmosphere because they understand ambiance is merely harnessed.
Music is a very powerful tool for adding to an atmosphere and needs to be selected very carefully as it can overpower the room. Sometimes to have no music is perfectly acceptable, the atmosphere created by people conversing, the gentle clinking of cutlery and glasses is enough to create a very peaceful mood.
It is crucial that a restaurant finds the proper lighting to appeal to their customers. Determine the mood or the concept you want to achieve and then match it with the lighting.
A romantic setting should be dimly lit. Try a nice chandelier or incorporate candles. If you run a fast-casual concept, use natural light through big windows (with adjustable shade options), or try a bright, upbeat color scheme. Finding the proper lighting will set the tone for your restaurant.
Lighting isn’t only essential for the guest experience during the meal. As we mentioned above, people want to take photos of their experience!
When it comes to photo lighting, some restaurants are going to great lengths to ensure their customers get the perfect photos. The second branch of steakhouse Boston Chops that opened this year features a special “Instagrammers’ table” complete with moveable, adjustable lights ideal for photos.
Plating and Presentation
Your food and venue atmosphere should all be married together and in keeping with the overall theme, a feature that's sometimes neglected is the plating, cutlery and the choice of presentation, serving some meals in different ways can seem more impressive and feast for the eyes. As an example serving cheeses on a cheese board or slate will always be more appealing than on a standard white plate.
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