Restaurant Design of Today: What's New, Tips, and More

Designing a restaurant is not a task to take lightly. You want to showcase your brand in a positive light that will make your guests comfortable, excited, and want to come back again. A good design plays a big role in the success of your restaurant and it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and ideas. 

Design is always evolving. Whether you’re a fine dining establishment or more fast-casual, there are constantly new tricks and tips to learn that will make for a more visually enjoyable experience. We did some research on the topic to help guide you in the right direction when needed. Here’s what we learned. 

The Latest in Restaurant Design

For a while now we have seen darker interiors with warm (sometimes almost barely-there) lighting. Nowadays, we are starting to see a new trend: lighter and brighter interiors. The dark reclaimed woods are being replaced for something on the paler side, creating a more airy and cheerful demeanor. Interiors are lightning up on the colors, shifting to more of pastels than those darker hues we have seen before, making for a very relaxing vibe all around. Lights are getting a tad brighter as well, leaving the ultra dim back in the dark. 

And the texture seems to be changing. Metals and concrete were a must these past few years, but we’re now seeing softer textures taking over. Tropical and bohemian are two design types that are beginning to really become on-demand. Lightweight furniture and lush gardens make for a chill and tranquil space that is staying true to the relaxing feel. 

Be prepared to see more and more floral and tropical prints take shape on restaurant walls, too. Chef Works states this trend of “palm prints, and kitschy Hawaiian prints” is very hot right now for those diners looking for photo-ready spaces that can be shared on their social media pages. However, this trend also helps a restaurant be more than just a space to eat, but an actual vacation destination.

Molding dining with entertainment is another exciting design trend popping up all over. Open kitchens are not necessarily anything new, but the popularity of live-fire is surely on the rise. This cooking technique is visually stimulating as guests can sit back and watch their meal being prepared over a live flame. Restaurant Business says today, much more restaurants are adding live fire concepts to their venues, with “wood-fired items” on the menu are “up 7% year over year.” 

Tips on Designing Your Restaurant

Having an evergreen approach to design is key. Not following the over-the-top trends can help save for future renovations, while still allow you to play with different elements from time to time.  Keep things simple and usually you can't go wrong. Anything too busy has the result of going out of style too soon. A restaurant that isn’t too cluttered makes for a more welcoming experience for many diners of today, giving them that relaxing vibe they are looking for - think California casual cool.

Larry McGuire, CEO and Cofounder, McGuire Moorman Hospitality told customized interiors work well. “More and more, my favorite restaurants are ones where you can tell the owners have worked on it—things have gone in and out of style, they’ve kept things, they’ve added things, they’ve edited it over the years. There’s a lot of layering, and to me, that’s what makes a great interior.” 

Create a cozy space your diners enjoy and chances are they will come back for more. People like an intimate setting where they don’t feel completely lost. While venues with impressively large spaces are fine, those that can offer a form of intimacy truly lead the way. The right lighting, accents, colors, and furniture (think ultra plush and comfy) will allow for an overall cozy stay for your guests. And just because brighter seems to be better these days, don’t let that fool you into thinking that can’t be cozy. What’s more comfortable than sitting on the beach with the white sand, turquoise waters, and a fruity cocktail in hand? We can’t think of anything.

Remember Your Brand

While trends come and go, and fads fad, there is something you have to always remember: stay true to your brand. Decide how you want your restaurant to be perceived and showcase that in your overall design strategy. Sling states it’s essential to “define your brand personality before you even start thinking about how to design your space.” If you really want the ideal design for your restaurant, ensure you are staying truthful to your brand and you’ll be sure to reap the benefits.