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  • Writer's pictureOliver Ludlam

Restaurant Design

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

Restaurant Design: Tips and Insights from an Interior Designer

As an interior design company specializing in restaurant design, we know how important it is to create a unique and memorable ambiance that resonates with customers. Whether you're designing a small bistro or a large-scale fine dining establishment, restaurant design plays a crucial role in the success of your business.

In this article, we'll address some common questions that restaurant owners may have about the design process. We'll cover everything from the basics of restaurant design to the cost of hiring a designer and the key elements to consider when designing a restaurant. We'll also discuss the different types of restaurants and the role that architects may play in the design process.

Getting Started with Restaurant Design

When designing a restaurant, it's important to start with a clear vision of what you want to achieve. You should consider the style and feel of the restaurant, the target audience, and the budget. Some of the initial steps include:

  • Research: Look for inspiration from other restaurants, design blogs, or social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. Gather photos and ideas that capture the look and feel that you're going for.

  • Planning: Create a floor plan, select materials, and choose a color scheme that aligns with your concept. These choices will impact everything from the furniture you select to the lighting and artwork.

  • Menu design: Consider how the menu design will fit into the overall aesthetic of the restaurant. You may choose to incorporate menu design into the decor itself by displaying menu items on chalkboards or wall-mounted displays.

  • Design bars: Bars are a key element in many restaurants, and should be designed in a way that complements the rest of the space. You may want to use similar materials or colours to tie the bar area into the overall design.

Cost of Restaurant Design

One of the most common questions we receive from restaurant owners is how much it will cost to design their space. The cost of restaurant design can vary widely depending on the size and scope of the project, as well as the design firm you choose to work with. Some costs to consider include:

  • Hiring a designer: Depending on the scope of the project, you may need to hire an interior designer, a restaurant designer, or both. These professionals will help you bring your vision to life, but will add to the overall cost of the project.

  • Materials: The materials you choose for your restaurant will also impact the overall cost. High-end finishes such as marble or custom lighting will be more expensive than simpler materials.

  • Labour: The cost of labour will depend on the scope of the project, the size of the space, and the number of workers required to complete the project.

Designing a Small Restaurant

Designing a small restaurant can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can use to maximize the space. Some tips include:

  • Layout: Optimize the space by choosing a layout that promotes flow and functionality. Consider incorporating a bar area or creating an open kitchen to maximize the space.

  • Furniture: Choose furniture that is both comfortable and functional. Consider using booths to maximize seating and provide privacy.

  • Lighting: Use lighting to create the illusion of space. Use natural light when possible and incorporate lighting fixtures that enhance the ambiance of the space.

The Concept of Restaurant Design

A cohesive and well-executed concept is essential to the success of any restaurant. A strong concept helps to differentiate your restaurant from others and creates a unique experience for customers. Some tips for developing a concept include:

  • Consider your target audience: Your concept should appeal to your target audience and align with their preferences.

  • Be authentic: The concept should be authentic and align with the vision and values of the restaurant owner.

Consider the competition: Look at what other restaurants are doing in the area and strive to differentiate your concept from theirs.

What Restaurant Designers Do

Restaurant designers are specialized interior designers who have experience working specifically with restaurants and other hospitality spaces. They work with restaurant owners to create a unique and functional space that aligns with the owner's vision and goals. Some of the services that restaurant designers provide include:

  • Concept development: Restaurant designers work with the owner to develop a concept that reflects the owner's vision and appeals to the target audience.

  • Space planning: Restaurant designers develop a detailed floor plan that optimizes the use of space and promotes functionality.

  • Material selection: Restaurant designers help choose materials such as furniture, lighting, and finishes that align with the concept and budget.

  • Construction oversight: Restaurant designers oversee the construction process to ensure that the design is executed correctly and on budget.

Is Interior Design a Stressful Job?

Like any job, interior design can be stressful at times, but it can also be rewarding. Designers must manage multiple projects at once, work with clients, and ensure that projects are completed on time and on budget. However, for those who are passionate about design, the rewards can be significant.

5 Key Areas to Consider When Designing a Restaurant

When designing a restaurant, it's important to consider the following key areas:

  1. Ambiance: The overall atmosphere and aesthetic of the restaurant.

  2. Functionality: The layout and flow of the space.

  3. Comfort: The comfort and functionality of the furniture and seating.

  4. Lighting: The lighting should create ambiance and highlight specific areas of the space.

  5. Sound: The sound should be carefully considered to promote a pleasant dining experience.

4 Basic Types of Restaurants

There are four basic types of restaurants:

  1. Fine Dining: High-end restaurants that typically offer a formal atmosphere, expensive menus, and an extensive wine list.

  2. Casual Dining: Restaurants that offer a casual atmosphere and menu at a lower price point.

  3. Fast-Casual: Restaurants that offer fast service and a limited menu, but with higher quality ingredients than fast food restaurants.

  4. Fast Food: Restaurants that offer quick, inexpensive food and service.

Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy a Restaurant?

Whether it's cheaper to build or buy a restaurant will depend on a variety of factors, including the location, size, and condition of the building. Buying an existing restaurant can be less expensive upfront, but may require significant renovations to align with your concept. Building a restaurant from scratch can be more expensive, but allows for more creative control and can potentially lead to higher profits in the long run.


Restaurant design plays a crucial role in the success of a restaurant. From developing a concept to selecting materials and managing the construction process, restaurant designers and interior designers help create a space that aligns with the owner's vision and appeals to the target audience.

When designing a restaurant, it's important to consider key areas such as ambiance, functionality, comfort, lighting, and sound. There are also four basic types of restaurants to consider when developing a concept.

While architects can play a role in restaurant design, they are not always necessary. Restaurant designers and interior designers can often handle the design process, especially for smaller projects.

Interior design is a competitive field, and while it can be stressful at times, it can also be rewarding. Some of the highest paid interior design jobs include creative directors, design directors, and senior interior designers.

In conclusion, restaurant design is a complex and rewarding field that requires a combination of creative and technical skills. Whether you're designing a small cafe or a high-end restaurant, the key is to develop a concept that aligns with your vision and appeals to your target audience. Working with a restaurant designer or interior designer can help ensure that your space is functional, visually appealing, and aligned with your budget and goals.

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