Restaurant lighting is about more than just décor. If you have beautiful fixtures but the shadows are unflattering, the lighting is ineffective. If you have the wrong intensity bulbs, you can ruin the mood of the restaurant. Take the following things into consideration when you choose lighting for your restaurant.
First and foremost, lights should be used to make things visible. It’s one thing to set the mood by dimming the lights; it’s something else entirely when your guests need flashlights to read the menu or find the silverware. Think of the lights you choose as spotlights for your food. Do you want to show off the presentation or hide it? If you want to hide the food you serve, you might want to think about a different entrepreneurial venture.
Think about when people will be most likely to be in your restaurant and about the amount of light windows will let in during that time. Better yet, think about how to shield the eyes of your patrons when the sun is blazing through the westward facing windows in the evening.
You want your customers to be able to see, but you don’t want to blind them. You also want the mood of your restaurant to fit the food you serve. It doesn’t make sense to have romantic lighting at a fast food restaurant, nor does it make sense to use fluorescent lights in a fine dining establishment. To account for the different times of day and different moods, have dimmer switches installed in the dining area. Business lunches merit more light than romantic dinners, but both may occur in the same location when you use the proper lighting techniques. Dimmers can be your best friend.
We’ve already discussed the importance of spotlighting your food with adequate lighting. As you arrange the lighting for tables in your restaurant, you should also think about whether the lighting flatters your guests. For example, direct overhead lights cast shadows on guest’s faces that may make them look weary. The ideal lighting will spotlight the food and reflect off the table underneath the chins of your guests. It’s like when you take a selfie; you hold the phone at the most flattering angle.
The bulbs you use to light your restaurant make a difference, too. Incandescent bulbs provide a softer light while fluorescent bulbs make a windowless room shine like the noonday sun. More often than not, fluorescent bulbs should be reserved for fast food restaurants where you want the guests to eat quickly and move on.
Finally, don’t forget the décor. The light fixtures you choose to display the proper lighting are another opportunity for you to display the theme or ambiance of your restaurant. The chandelier made of antlers will work for a Texas steakhouse but not for a California vegan establishment. Neon lights around the bar work well for a 50’s style diner but not so well for a seafood restaurant.
Know the mood, crowd, and ambiance you need and make your lighting choices accordingly.
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