There is no feeling like that of sitting down to eat at a good restaurant with good service. From the time we walk in the door capturing a sweet aroma of fresh grilled entrees, to the time we are seated by a pleasant and smiling hostess, we are in store for a treat. One would only assume that the decor has been well designed, the menu carefully selected and the service well performed. This is what we all expect of a restaurant.
The Importance Of Lighting
With the high risk associated with restaurants, it is absolutely vital to provide not only good food and service to clientele, but it is crucial that the clients leave feeling good about the decision to eat in a particular establishment. This goes to every last detail from plate garnishment to easy to understand menus. However the most often overlooked item is lighting. Restaurants often have multiple types of lighting fixtures to help create the overall atmosphere and design image. According to the American Lighting Association restaurants should have no less than (2) levels of light consisting of task and accent lighting, with a high recommendation of dimmable light bulbs and systems. By using multiple lighting fixture types a design image can create brilliant displays of decor, and architecture while providing a primary focus on the dining table. The dining table is where light balance becomes crucial for a restaurant. If a table is poorly lit, food can appear dull and unappealing despite flavor and presentation. Meanwhile over illuminated tables can be too bright and distract from a pleasant dining experience.
Well Balanced Lighting Affects Return Visits
All to often in restaurants we find that there is a difference in lighting over tables versus booth seating areas. This may consist of recessed cans or track over table tops and pendant lighting over booths and bar areas. When serving customers in a restaurant, you must ensure that every customer has the ability to receive the same levels of service, and pleasant experience no matter the seating area. Because different seating areas have different styles of fixtures, a restaurateur must ensure that the light delivered to the table is well balanced and equal from either fixture type. Recently while dining in an Applebees restaurant I was seated at a table top which sat under track lighting. Installed in the track was a 50 Watt Halogen Spot Light. The light was so focused on the table that it created glare and a hot spot on the table, while across the isle were booths that had pendant lights with bottom globes. The booths had only a fraction of the light provided to our table, and no relative hot spots. In this scenario, my dining experience was in the hot seat while diners seated in booths could barely see the food on their plates.
Balancing light levels to ensure a consistent and pleasing dining experience is crucial to the subconscious emotions that a customer will experience. In the case of Applebees, a lower wattage narrow flood should have been installed over tables, while a higher wattage lamp should have been installed over booths. In the photo above you will notice a hot spot in the bar area to the lower right of the image. This is a hot spot created by poor lamp selection. The result of this “seat yourself” restaurant was that the table with the hot spot remained empty throughout the course of our meal, where other tables with well balanced lighting sat to capacity.
For more information on Light Balance, view our website or call Synergy Lighting for a free consultation.
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