Superfood or diet trends like quinoa and kale are not the only influences impacting the food and beverage industry. Well-designed spaces sell the customers on the dining experience just as much as the food and service. It doesn’t matter if the venue is fast-casual or fine dining; overarching changes to customer standards impacts restaurant design decision-making.
1. Fresh food, fresh design
As we see an increased interest in nutrition, hyper-local, and “green” eating, the new design palette reflects the desire for a “fresh” space. Interior designers achieve this with lighter color schemes and natural woods, as you can see in Hospitality Design’s October 2017 issue article on cafés. White is especially popular for brightening a space and creating a chic look.
“You’re seeing light/airy tones in spaces, furnished in a curated bohemian style in terms of furniture. We see a lighter, brighter and calmer vibe than the heaviness we have been getting for the past five years or so,” Michael Dolatowski, Creative Director of Deft Union told the Tasting Table.
2. Bring the green inside
Naturally, with the continued popularity of the farm-to-table movement, dining spaces are looking at ways to emphasize the ‘local.’ An increasing number of restaurants are bringing plants into the spaces. Designers are creating floral or plant walls, or transforming the front lawn into a garden, or imitating a greenhouse with expansive windows and plants everywhere.
3. Open cook spaces
Forget the stodgy chef’s table. Dinners still want the personal connection with the chef, but restaurant design is finding new ways to achieve this. Some restaurants wrap the bar around the kitchen. Others tear down the walls to create open kitchen spaces for diners to peer inside.
“One trend we think will continue and that we enjoy working on ourselves is customized open flame, wood-burning cook spaces, like the hearth at Lilia. There is a lot of fun to be had in customizing those elements,” said Matthew Maddy, Designer at Sweet Nuthin’ Hospitality and American Construction League.
4. Easy ordering
The modern diner enjoys convenience and speed. Customers like ordering through technology tools, especially when they can customize their order. This starts with ordering through a mobile app and picking up on-location or, for some brands, opting for food delivery. Mobile pay or pay-at-table is popular as customers value its convenience.
5. Virtual dining
Can a restaurant exist without seats? Maybe. What started with food delivery services is morphing into ‘virtual restaurants’ where people order meal-delivery. It’s designed like a catering service, but without mass-production for special events and on-demand cooking by professional chefs. Some big names are trying the virtual dining trend, like Momofuku’s David Chang and Michael White’s Pasta on Demand.
6. Going vintage
Especially in the casual sphere, restaurants design is trending towards timeless look. Mid-century furniture elements are making a big comeback, as is a vintage decor. Think old posters, neon signs, and historical photos. Sourcing local materials adds extra character to the space.
7. In and out
Casual venues are speeding up service with optimized layouts. However, even fine dining restaurants are offering lower-priced food through takeout services. To speed up takeout processing, restaurants are adding carry out dining entrances separate from diners eating in the facility.
Besides these restaurant design trends, there are other winning practices for the food and beverage industry professionals create experiences that draw repeat customers.