Many industries are undergoing a makeover in this post-COVID climate. Restaurants in particular felt the impact of lockdowns, but many were able to adapt and thrive in spite of the pandemic. As we’ve emerged, many eateries, cafes, and fine dining establishments are rethinking how they structure indoor dining. Expect to see the following gain traction in restaurant design:

Bespoke Fixtures & Furnishings

After almost two years of playing it safe with COVID-19, staying home, and dining to-go style, people want to make memories again. They crave immersion in something new, something beautiful, something unique. High-end restaurants were already trending toward custom design that communicated their individual brand, but now we are seeing restaurants of all tiers utilizing tailor-made touches.

Many restaurant owners are opting to buy original pieces from local artists. Fixtures such as lighting, linens, candles, and plants are selected for their ability to stand out and make an impression. When possible, restaurants seem to choose greener, more eco-friendly options in the decor department.

Goodbye Communal Items

At least for the foreseeable future, certain group-use items will not be made readily accessible. Condiment trolleys, buckets of silverware, cream carafes, and sugar bowls no longer sit on table tops, but instead are handed out individually to prevent the spread of germs. For diner-style restaurants, this can diminish the laid-back vibe and increase the strain put on servers. Restaurants that rely on ready-to-use items being available for their customers at the counter or table are finding new ways to meet needs – like QR codes to place a request instead of waiting for the server to make their rounds.

Decreased Seating and Increased Open Space

Traditionally, restaurants strived to optimize seating so they could meet their own financial needs as a business. Now, spaced-out tables, smaller capacity dining rooms, and individual booths are gaining popularity. We will certainly see restaurants continue to optimize their space, but in a way that makes customers feel safe and socially distanced. Some have implemented eye-catching dividers between booths that offer a greater sense of privacy. Others are fixing bar stools to the floor to create more of a dining experience and less of a chaotic buzz. The outdoor pod-style bubbles we’ve seen in some downtown/urban areas will remain a popular option for wintertime dining.

Acoustics and Lighting

Restaurants now have the difficult challenge of making their dining area seem full without appearing too crowded and driving off more cautious diners. In the past, a bustling restaurant was a good sign, but now it can be a turn-off for some customers. Restaurants are trending toward creating a sense of calm and simplicity that attracts diners because they are looking for a way to relax and connect. We have already started to see establishments implement sound-dampening materials like curtains, throws, and rugs while leaning into individual, aesthetically pleasing light features.

Environments can assist with all types of restaurant redesigns. We work with clients to curate a unique experience that communicates your brand, drives sales, and attracts new customers. Contact us today to learn more.