When you run a restaurant, you’re not only in the food industry. You’re also in the business of creating a memorable experience for your guests. That memorable experience, in turn, influences their perception of the food and service. In fact, everything from the carpet to your bathroom furniture influences that perception.
People don’t go to restaurants for the food alone; they want the experience of conversation and connection over a good meal. Eating a steak at home in front of the TV can taste okay, but when enjoyed with friends in a beautiful restaurant, it tastes delightful.
Just like being in love, higher states of emotion intensify positive experiences of everything, including food. People visit restaurants with loved ones to experience those heightened state of emotion. Here are some ideas for creating a mood-boosting atmosphere in your restaurant:
- Hire a live band – with the right kind of music
Adding live music to your restaurant – the right way – is an opportunity for you to shine, although it’s important to select the right kind of music. Remember that people want to have conversations with each other while they eat, so any type of distracting music – no matter how talented the band is – won’t work.
Of all genres of music, jazz is the best choice because it’s quieter than other genres, and can be listened to with full attention or played as background music. With a wider appeal than other genres like rock and country, live jazz can also be appreciated by people of all ages. When restaurants play genres that appeal to specific demographics, they end up with guests who love the food but can’t stand the music. They tolerate the music to spend time with their family, but they don’t leave with the beautiful memories they could have. Instead of remembering their connection with others, they’ll always think of that restaurant as the restaurant with annoying music.
“Hiring a jazz band is a great way to distinguish yourself from your competitors by offering something special they don’t have,” explains Chuck Braman, of New York Jazz Bands. “It’s sophisticated, so it adds sophistication to your restaurant.”
- Improve the acoustics so your band sounds wonderful
Live music can be a wonderful addition to your restaurant, but it takes effort to get it right. For music to contribute to your elegant atmosphere, you need great acoustics. You’ll want a talented band, but with the wrong acoustics, even a great band can sound off.
Improving the acoustics in the room will make the music sound great and allow your guests to engage in conversation without feeling interrupted. To achieve this, you’ll need to reduce the ambient noise in the room with soft, sound-absorbing surfaces. You can do this by:
- Replacing blinds with curtains
- Installing carpeting
- Installing baffles or acoustic tiles like these on the ceiling
If you haven’t thought about this before and need some ideas, check out other restaurants you know to have great acoustics. Look around to see what soft surfaces they’re using to absorb sound.
- Hire a professional to install perfect lighting
Dim lighting is great for facilitating a relaxed guest experience, but if your guests need to get out a flashlight to read the menu, you’ve taken it too far.
NightClub.com interviewed Jennifer Glickman, a designer who has worked with several Boston bars and restaurants to design their spaces. She said, “the mood in the bar sets the tone for how long people are going to sit there and feel comfortable there, which of course then dictates how many drinks they’re going to order.”
Whether you have a bar or not, lighting has the power to influence how long your guests stay. Light isn’t just visual. Every light source emits a different level of heat that directly impacts how comfortable guests feel.
- Redesign your menus with class
Your menu is more than a list of what’s available. Just like the food itself, presentation is everything. Your menu influences the perception of food quality before it’s even served.
For inspiration, or if you want to get started redesigning your menu, check out these fine dining menu templates. They’ve got styles for all types of food, as well as some special holiday menus.
The restaurant business can be competitive, but not so much when you know how to give your guests the experience they came to have.