For so many accomplished chefs and budding entrepreneurs, opening a restaurant is the ultimate dream. Having your own space where you can entertain guests and wow them with your creative dishes, whilst making money at the same time—what’s not to like? However, when it comes to running a successful F&B venture, unfortunately great food is often not enough on its own. These days more than ever, customers expect an experience that goes far deeper than just what they eat. With so much competition on the market, a restaurant with great food but lack-lustre interiors and no atmosphere is likely to be a flop. Many people eat out to celebrate a special occasion—birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs—so they want to be in a space that reflects this. If you are planning on opening your first restaurant and already have an amazing menu in place, then it’s time to start thinking about designing some interiors to match. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Come Up with a Concept

Coming up with a concept is essential in order for you to realise your vision. Whether you base this around the type of food on your menu, your personal tastes, or a full-blown theme will be up to you, but it should become the root of all your design decisions. Do you want your space to look like a hidden little trattoria in the heart of Italy or a beachside hut in Hawaii? By deciding this from the beginning, you can create a space that will transport your customers to the place you have envisioned. If creativity isn’t your thing, or if you just can’t see how your concept is going to work, then it is a great idea to get your design team on the project as early as possible. Companies like Studio EM are highly experienced at coming up with creative projects and following them through to fruition. If you don’t know where you’re going to buy a bamboo bar in the middle of the city, then chances are that teams like theirs do! Having a team of creatives, designers and architects behind your project is an invaluable tool to ensuring it gets done right.

  1. Stay Consistent

Once you have your theme or concept in place, it is important to stay consistent. Your customers will notice and appreciate your design more if it runs through everything that you do, so be sure to make every interior decision with your end goal in mind. From the food, to the colours on the walls, to the furniture and fittings, everything should flow together smoothly to result in a space that is on theme and consistent.

  1. Create Atmosphere

A concept on its own is not necessarily capable of creating atmosphere, so this is something that you will likely need to work on. Lighting is the most obvious way to nail the right atmosphere. If you are going for a romantic vibe, use low lighting and candles, or if you want a relaxing daytime feel, then try and opt for a space which lets in loads of light. Consider how you want your customers to feel and work from there. Other key contributors to atmosphere will include your colour scheme, your music choices—including your speaker system or live band space—and even the smell of your restaurant—be sure to design a kitchen with the correct ventilation system so that it doesn’t affect your diners.

  1. Don’t Forget Details

When it comes to creating a fully realised design, the devil really is in the detail. Everything from your bar and coffee machines, down to your cutlery, plates and napkins should be considered as integral parts of your design. It is these small touches that will show your customers that you’ve really thought things through and more often than not they will glean that your attention to detail extends to your food too. Your branding, like your social media, flyers and menus should all also be designed on theme.

  1. Think of Comfort

An uber-cool space is no good if nobody wants to sit in it, which is why a consideration of comfort should not be secondary. The seating that you choose and the layout of your tables should all be key factors in your design process. Ensure that you test out any seating before committing to ensure that it is comfortable; you may even want to have a range of seating options throughout your venue, from sofas to bar stools to sit down tables. On top of this, do not try to squeeze too much in to your space. If customers are constantly being asked to move by others or always being brushed by a waiter as they walk by then they will not have a relaxing experience and will likely not return.

  1. Exterior

Unfortunately, many customers do indeed judge a book by its cover, which is why your exterior should be just as impressive as your interior. From your restaurant’s name, to the font used, to the colour and accessories outside, these are all factors that will either draw people in or repel them. Be sure to reflect your design from the outside-in to communicate your message and style. Don’t forget to make a space for your menu outside in order to draw customers in.

  1. Facilities

Another key factor not to be forgotten is your bathroom facilities. A nice restaurant can easily be let down by grotty or malfunctioning bathrooms, so be sure to get your design and plumbing right so that customers can feel comfortable throughout your restaurant. Added touches like nice soap, hand cream and flowers can all give that added feeling of luxury for your customers, so don’t scrimp in this area.

Opening a successful restaurant is about so much more than the food. By creating branding and interiors that will communicate your message and make your customers feel at ease, you can be sure to have a space that they will return to time after time.