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How to Set your Restaurant Apart from the Competition

Everyone wants to be the hottest new opening in town. However, the honour of topping those ‘must-visit’ spots can sometimes feel elusive. Knowing your customer and how to best tailor an experience for them is key for rising above your competitors. It is the experience that brings people back over anything else - although having great food definitely helps. We have put together a quick guide to making sure your restaurant stands out for all the right reasons. 

Be aesthetically pleasing

In a world where so much of life is spent looking at a screen, people are always on a quest for the perfect picture to capture an experience (and then share it). Paying close attention to your interiors and the story you are trying to tell is essential. If you’re a café or lunch/brunch spot, consider adding some so-called millennial pinks and other pleasing pastel colours for an Instagram-ready backdrop.  

Decadent flower arrangements always create a photo opportunity, as does eye-catching art. Depending on the feel of your restaurant, this can range from neon signs to classical frescos – anything that is unusual and will make your eatery easy to identify. Outdoor seating is obviously a huge asset in summer; make the most of it by ensuring it is both comfortable and snappable by adding details like creative lighting or seating. The aesthetics should also extend to the food as punters famously eat with their eyes as well as their mouths.  

Incorporate bar culture

Including a bar is much more than just a way to sell alcohol, and you can adjust its purpose based on the kind of atmosphere you want to promote. For an upscale restaurant, having a small bar area gives people a place to enjoy a drink or two before their meal. For a busier dining floor at a more casual restaurant, the bar can be a place for people to sit and be while they are waiting to be seated. 

Not only do bars encourage spending (always a plus) they can also promote a feeling of intimacy. If your bar can take on a life of its own as a meeting place, the benefits to your restaurant can be considerable. Depending on your resources, a simple bar menu can also entice in more casual diners unwilling to commit to a full sit-down meal.

Nail the lighting

The levels of lighting can influence the atmosphere in your restaurant, so you really want to make sure you get it right. Brighter light is great for customer turnover, as it energizes your environment and as a result people tend to eat and leave quicker. Low lighting fosters an intimate environment that is relaxing and comfortable, and that people want to spend more time in . 

For these reasons, formal restaurants tend to go with lower lighting, while busy pubs and casual dining sites choose brighter lighting. It can also be a factor for those wishing to snap their suppers for social media, so if that kind of exposure is a priority, make sure the food can be clearly seen - although you may not want to go as far as US steakhouse Boston Chops who created an “Instagrammers Table” with adjustable lights to ensure the perfect picture.

Colour correction

Colors can change our moods. For instance, yellow is a bright color that tends to make people happy when they see it and creates an upbeat atmosphere. Red is said to increase blood pressure which in turn increases hunger, and orange gets us thinking of healthy foods. As a result, any of these three colors make good choices for decorating. 

As a rule, avoiding darker colours such as grey, black, and brown, as they diminish appetites and remind us of burnt food. Blue makes us sleepy and can slow metabolisms, while purple can remind us of unappealing foods. There is no hard and fast rule for decorating a restaurant and incorporating these colours will not put customers off their food - but perhaps save them for smaller accents rather than a whole wall.

Sound it out

The atmosphere can be made and broken by a dodgy soundtrack. What kind of music should you play? How loud? Should you have music at all? The answer to the last of those questions is probably yes but, as to the other two, restaurateurs must make a choice as to whether they want music to be a main feature or a background buzz.  

According to Jason Atherton, “the hardest thing to do is cool, non-offensive music”, so finding something unobtrusive may be hard at first, but once you’ve cracked it, it can make all the difference. Music and food have always gone hand in hand; no matter if you choose loud, statement tunes or take a more subtle route, your playlist could be the difference between an eatery with ambience or a restaurant that feels atmosphere-free.    

Unite everyone

While all these tips can help, one of the most important parts of the business is the staff. They set the mood and atmosphere with how they treat your clientele. Ensure they are dressed properly for the type of establishment you are looking to run, and that they interact appropriately with your customers. 

Once you have identified what you are looking to present, do not keep that a secret! Share it with your staff so they know what the business is about. Making sure everyone is in the loop and up to date will help your restaurant run as smoothly as it can and give your customers the greatest experience possible making them excited to come back. Most importantly, ensure they are happy - smiles are contagious, after all. 

If you would like more advice or speak to an expert about a property, call us on +44 (0)20 7935 2222 or email us at

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