Neat Burger Company: Food to go interior space

Creating a successful restaurant design is challenging enough and striking a balance between great food, a memorable experience and a beautiful interior is hard. A misconception is that the reputation of a restaurant is solely based on its food offering, however it’s so much more than this. In this blog we will guide you through what we believe are the most important considerations when it comes to planning, designing, or revamping a restaurant. We will explore the key aspects that will positively impact your brand, restaurant and more importantly your chance of success.

First impressions are often the part of the experience that stay with the customer long after they leave. First impressions start before the customer walks into your restaurant and unsurprisingly span way beyond the signage above the door. Everything that the customer comes into contact with (including the staff) should all tell the same brand story and this has to include the exterior and entrance to the restaurant. The exterior of the restaurant is often neglected or an afterthought in the design process however it’s just as important as the interior concept, if the customers aren’t intrigued and confident from the outset they won’t venture inside. These two elements should be designed alongside each other to ensure consistency for the brand and customer. These very first moments will hopefully encourage your customer to fall in love with your brand.

The customer experience from approach through to entering the restaurant should be considered and the very first encounters with the brand should put the customer at ease. The customer should have some idea of what they are walking into from the exterior and first brand impressions. Is your positioning clear and is your difientation understood? Your design should convey exactly what your brand and restaurant exists for, when this is clear and executed well you customer will have much more trust and confidence to come and dine with you. The first impressions are extremely important however this 360 brand experience must continue inside too. The standard of service you provide, the quality of food, the exterior and interior design should all be aligned. Integrating this consistently will affect the quality of brand experience customers receive throughout their stay, be clear on your brand positioning and concept and ensure this is carried out across all customer touch points.

Read about our experience at Neat Burger | Soho here!

Imagery – Grey Coffee – Neat Burger, Princes Street | London

Neat Burger Company: Shop Front
^Read about our experience at Neat Burger | Soho here!^

Any restauranteur, founder or restaurant owner ultimately wants the customer’s experience to be seamless, enjoyable and memorable… the restaurant should leave a lasting impression that encourages  customers to want to know more about the brand and return time and time again. A key aspect to think about when designing a restaurant is your brand story. This may sound trivial and ‘on trend’ but this really is the key to ensuring you have not just a restaurant that people will come back to but a brand that people fall in love with and want to be a part of. The most influential and successful hospitality brands are those that are developed based on the brand’s core values and purpose, they encapsulate the essence of the brand and tell their brand story. 

It’s easy to dismiss or underestimate the potential brand can have on the success of a restaurant, but when the brand’s vision and values are identifiable across the materials, messaging and interior you stand a much better chance of your customers building connections with the brand and being loyal. The implementation of brand strategy into the design of a restaurant will ensure that the business has a better chance for success, the brands touchpoints will be more connected and build a stronger sense of culture and community than those competitors who haven’t.

Neat Burger Company: Food to go interior space
Here are some resources that focus on brand implementation for interiors:

What is a brand clarity workshop and how can it support interior design?

Clarity to help design & position your brand for future growth

An important step when designing a restaurant is to create clarity around the vision for your space, ideally this design concept should be aligned with your overall brand. It’s not just about how great the interior of the restaurant looks, each step of this process should be led by your brand’s purpose and this should be at the core of decision making for the interior concept. Essentially the restaurant interior is a blank canvas to tell your brand story, the focus should be to create a connected brand experience for your customers. The brand experience you can create is what sets you apart from your competitors and encourages your customers to come back for more.

Think about why your brand exists, what you want to offer your audience, and how your interior space can bring all of this together? Think about for example, if the restaurant brand has a casual offering for group meets you probably would expect the interior to be more open and communal. Equally, if you re looking to offer a high end dining experience there is a high chance the interior would reflect this ethos with a more private seating and a sophisticated ambiance. 

When thinking about the interior concept, think about the overall mood and atmosphere you want to create for the customers, your research should be guided around staying true to your brand and keeping the customer at the heart of the experience. Adding your brand’s personality goes way beyond using your brand colours or putting your logo and values on a feature wall.

Ultimately the restaurant interior needs to be instantly recognisable to your brand. The best way to start thinking about introducing your brand culture and personality into your space is to utilise your interior choices to make your customer ‘feel’ your band. Is your brand aesthetic simple yet sophisticated, paired back and minimal? What elements would reflect this aspect of your brand? Try to create a clear concept that brings together interior elements that are representative of your brand DNA.

Neat Burger Company - Ordering Counter & Displays
Neat burger Company - Branded Sign
Neat Burger Company: Food & Drink Example

Restaurant floor planning is essential to the design of a restaurant, spatial planning is all about streamlining the operation and function of the space. How well a restaurant functions is down to the accuracy and efficiency of a well developed and considered General Arrangement, the floor planning process needs to be meticulous and take into consideration lots of elements. The key elements that need consideration when planning a restaurant layout are the entrance, waiting stations, dining zones, bar and countertop, kitchen, back of house and restrooms. Taking each element into consideration will help the restaurant to flow seamlessly, and help staff to fulfil their tasks and use the space effectively.

While the floor plan and furniture layout is imperative to get right this isn’t just for functional purposes, the layout of a restaurant will directly impact the customer. The design of the restaurant will determine the atmosphere and experience for your customers, when restaurant design is successful it can transform the business. Don’t be fooled into thinking smaller venues are easier to design, often the smaller the space the more carefully considered the design has to be. Large sites can also pose their own set of challenges when it comes to space planning, furniture layouts and zoning. One thing to remember is to not neglect outdoor spaces, waiting areas or rest rooms; all of these spaces, if executed in line with the brand, will add value to this experience. The lighting plan will also be a contributing factor to the spatial planning of a restaurant, placement of lighting plays a crucial role in the customer experience.

The intention of a general arrangement is to organise the space efficiently but it is also to guide the financial success of the business. The function and seamlessness of a restaurant affects the customer experience and consequently revenue… but the other purpose of the general arrangement is to identify the amount of ‘covers’ (Seats) you can realistically fit into the space. This is integral to the spatial planning process and maximising your space with bespoke furniture and clever seating solutions will make all the difference here.

Read more in our guide to Commercial Interior Design here

You may not of come across the term ‘FF&E’ this stands for Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment. FF&E refers to the equipment, fixtures and ‘loose’ furniture that is not permanently connected to the main structure of the interior. Furniture is integral to the look and feel of the interior as well as the functionality of the space and consequently has a big impact on the guests experience. Try to be consistent with your furniture style and colour choices to keep it coherent and recognisable to the brand.

The restaurant floor plan should take into consideration the core dining zones you intend to have in the restaurant. If you have taken the time to meticulously design your floor plan you should have an idea of the available space and the type of restaurant furniture suitable for your venue and concept. The style and design of the chairs should fit the purpose and habits of your customers, if they will be spending long periods sat in your premises you need to ensure the furniture is suitable for this. The size and type of chairs and tables you choose should be led by the available space on your floor plan.

Neat Burger Company: Interior Counter and Bar Height Stools
Neat Burger Company: Food to go interior space

You need to be maximising the space you have, depending on the size of the restaurant you may want to consider the different seating options. There are many ways to furnish your restaurant however it needs to be right for your brand, customer and interior, with this in mind we have listed the main types of seating options and their function below.

Loose seating | If your space is one that needs to be adaptable and agile in it’s approach to seating, loose furniture is a good option for you. There are a wide variety of shapes and styles when it comes to bar stools, dining chairs, and tables these can be mixed and matched easily and great for restaurants that need to be flexible. Loose furniture is also perfect for combining with other seating options, often paired with banquet seating.

Bench seating | Casual dining spaces tend to opt for bench seating options, these are great for more communal/social spaces and less private dining. These benches can be upholstered and be arranged to create a distinctive layout for restaurants popular for group bookings. This option isn’t for everyone but a great choice for social environments and if you want to offer a different dining experience to competitors. Whilst less flexible than loose furniture you still have some freedom with arranging this type of seating.

Banquette seating | If you need to optimize your floor space and fit more covers into your restaurant, banquet seating is a great option. Most often bespoke made, this style of seating will be fitted to the quirks of your space and optimise every inch without compromising customer experience. Banquet seating is by nature is much more intimate than other seating options and is perfect for groups. A benefit to this style is that it is completely bespoke so upholstery can be matched to your interior concept too.

Booth seating| If you are looking to create a cosy and private dining experience for your guests, booth seating is a well suited choice. Booths are common because of the fact they are much more private than other types of seating and also tend to provide the most comfort for diners. When booths are positioned back to back they make the perfect option for group bookings away from other dining zones. Booths also provide more choice with upholstery fabric too.

When searching for the right furniture take into consideration the size, height and weight of the future to ensure handling is easy for customers and staff. Make sure you have considered the accessibility for your dining and bar seating to ensure there is flow to your space. Choosing fabrics that are hard wearing and easy to keep clean or wipe down is advised for hospitality venues.

Read our insight into Drake and Morgan’s ‘The Anthologist’ | Manchester here

If you have found this guide helpful you may also like to consider reading some of our other insights.

Brand Interiors: Highly Branded Interior Experiences 
Does brand strategy and design influence the choices customers make?
Hospitality interiors and connected experiences 2021

If you’re interested in understanding how we can help you to transform your interior and impact business growth then you may want to explore our RestaurantBar, or Commercial interior design service pages,  or talk to us today!

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