Restaurant Atmosphere - Achieving the Right Vibe

Atmosphere is one of the most important elements in a restaurant. People go out to eat for the overall experience - great food, time with friends, and an immersive atmosphere. The elements of your restaurant - lighting, color, background music - should come together perfectly to form a comprehensive and memorable theme for your customers.

By Nicholas Rubright
Here are some things to consider when putting together an atmosphere your customers will remember.

Your Overall Concept

The concept is the overall theme of your restaurant. Everything about your restaurant should fully immerse your customers within that theme. The food and drinks should connect with the culture and environment, and should provide direction for the atmosphere you're trying to establish. For example, if you're concept is a beach themed restaurant, maybe your food and drinks have a tropical theme, staff meet-and-greet with "surf" lingo, and surf themed décor fills your walls.

Background Music

Music has the power to influence the emotions of your customers, and can set the tone of your restaurant. Your music should reflect the overall theme of your restaurant. If we continue with the beach themed restaurant mentioned above, maybe it's best to play Caribbean music that compliments the overall island vibe. Services that offer music for business can help with proper music selection, and can simplify the music licensing process.

Color and Lighting

Color and lighting can affect the mood of your restaurant, and evoke different emotions from your customers. The overall color scheme should be chosen carefully to reflect your theme. A dark color scheme can reflect class, and when combined with dim lighting can result in a more romantic feel. Lighter shades of color and lighting can display a fun, happy atmosphere. Consider the mood you're going for, and choose a color and lighting scheme that compliments it.

Menu Design

Thoughtful menu design can further reflect the ambiance of your restaurant. Pay close attention to your font choice, the color scheme of the menu, and how effectively it represents your brand. Upscale restaurants may feature a more minimal menu design, while cafes might have menus written on a chalkboard, and fast-casual restaurants have pictures of food in the menus. Check menus regularly to ensure they're free of stains from spilled food or drinks. Also, consider how you display prices on your menu. Removing the cents and showing only dollar amounts can result in lower perceived prices.

Dishes and Silverware

How your food is served is an important piece of the atmospheric puzzle. High-class restaurants typically use heavier silverware and simple, white dishes; but restaurants where the theme is more specific and/or entertaining may use a more playful approach, such as using brightly colored plates, or serving a fruit bowl inside an empty watermelon shell, for example.


Think about what your walls should look like. Paintings from local artists may fit the style of a coffee shop or café, while oil paintings may display a higher level of sophistication for classier restaurant. In a sports bar, jerseys from famous football, basketball, and baseball players can encourage conversation among diners to create a more social and therefore memorable experience.

Creating ambiance within your restaurant can be time consuming, but it's well worth it. People want to have a memorable experience when they go out to eat, and if you can deliver that, you can be sure your customers will want to come back a second time.

Nicholas Rubright is the founder of Dozmia, a service that helps businesses build playlists that reflect their brand personality.alert-info

Running Restaurants
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