How Restaurant Lighting Impacts the Customer Experience

Have you ever noticed how a restaurant can transition from a family-friendly daytime dining space to a romantic dinner setting seemingly instantly? Not only does a versatile menu support the shift from family to couples and adult dining, but so too does lighting and the impact that lights have on the overall environment.

In this blog post, we’re focussing specifically on lighting in the restaurant industry and how the use of different lighting impacts the customer experience.

Lighting and environment

Think for a moment about the different spaces and rooms in your home, and how you choose lighting to compliment the way that each space is used. Lighting in restaurants and dining spaces works in much the same way, only instead of focussing different lighting styles on different spaces and rooms, the various lighting styles and options are used to denote different environments and atmospheres.

Daytime dining may boast a brighter and more awake setting, while evening dining and the dinner service boasts low lighting, intimate candles, and the intimacy of a closer ambience. The way that the lighting makes diners feel has a huge impact on their experience, with large ceiling lights creating more of an open plan dining room while individual table lights and candles mimic the intimacy of a more private setting.

It’s amazing how versatile a single restaurant becomes when you start to integrate different light sources for different moods and occasions. And influencing the environment is just the start.

Lighting and design features

Restaurant lighting for a good customer experience

What better way to highlight certain design features in your restaurant than with targeted lighting – from spotlights on specific artwork and interior features, to uplighting which promotes certain activities and areas, and individual table lights which give each dining space its own intimate setting.

The lights that you use to highlight certain features could present different colours, different brightness and intensity, or even different shapes and sizes – depending on how important the highlighted feature is in the presentation of your restaurant and in the experience of the diner.

Lighting and customer mood

Have you ever noticed how fast food restaurants are much brighter than more upmarket eateries? Well, there’s a reason – and it’s all to do with how the restaurant wants to make you feel as a customer. When the lights are dimmer, you feel more relaxed and are likely to stay longer – whereas bright lights keep you feeling a little on edge and ready to go at a much quicker rate. The latter serves the fast food sector perfectly, while the more atmospheric setting created in a sit down restaurant means you are likely to settle, stay longer, and order more.

We hate to say that restaurants can play their customers by using light to encourage them to stay longer or indeed leave quicker, but the reality is that there’s a reason for most interior design decisions – and this is a big driving force being lighting in particular.

Lighting and theme

Another factor to consider when selecting lighting for your restaurant is how your chosen lighting reflects and embodies the theme of your restaurant. Coloured lights can be a playful way of reflecting your brand and denoting or supporting a very specific dining experience – with some of the most immersive restaurants on the market relying on lighting to set the tone of their entire experience.

And it doesn’t just have to be coloured ceiling lights – you could opt for something completely different by lighting the dining room with fairy lights for a rustic and romantic setting; using candles to instil a traditional dinner time vibe or even hanging festoon lights. Use lighting to play into and embody your theme, designing a truly immersive restaurant experience that guests will remember.

Practical considerations around lighting

Finally, we can’t discuss lighting in restaurants and not focus a little time on the practical considerations – namely, the need for bright lighting in the kitchen to facilitate excellent food prep and presentation, the need for adequate lighting around service areas to enable your team to deliver a great experience to guests, and of course plenty of light in facilities such as the bathrooms of your restaurant.

Remember, when selecting lighting for your restaurant, your focus needs to be on both the practical elements of the space and the design and stylistic details. For more advice on how to use lighting to your advantage, both in setting the mood and in facilitating a great experience, get in touch with our team today.

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