Almost a year on from when COVID19 changed the game for businesses across the world, it’s clear that we aren’t going to see a return to normality for some time. With restaurants currently closed and the hospitality industry undeniably one of the hardest hit sectors, it is crucial venues are diversifying to provide a welcoming and secure environment to attract customers when they reopen.
Scarlett Blakey, founder of Ophelia Blake Interior Design, shares how clever interior design tweaks can make a restaurant more inviting to guests:
This is the most crucial element in ensuring that guests feel comfortable whilst maintaining the distance required, and this period where restaurants are unable to open is a good time to make sure it is right. Before doing anything else, take a look at the space available and how best to maximise it without compromising on safety. Things to consider include how guests will move around the space, both to the table and to the bathroom facilities, and how to make every table feel significant whilst distanced. It’s also vital that restaurants offer varied seating options for a range of guests, as well as for those who just want a drink or prefer a sit-down meal.
If you have the scope to do so, investing in an antibacterial fabric on any upholstered surfaces will help you stand out and provide extra peace of mind to customers. Antibacterial fabrics have been around for a while, but have never been as relevant as they are now. Brands such as Everclean and Panaz offer stylish and practical options that help prevent viruses.
The power of plants
Plants have been a big trend in interior design for a while now, but using planting displays for their natural benefits helps to create a clean, breathable environment. Plants reduce the CO2, help to filter out pollutants and purify the air we breathe. Opt for dangling English Ivy or large palms to reap the most benefits. Plus, they look great and are a fantastic option for filling newly created space that may otherwise make the room feel bare.
Upgrade your screens
They’re not going anywhere, so why not take the opportunity to make a feature out of the screens separating tables? Opt for glass screens with feature coloured glass instead of the common plastic ones to maintain a luxurious feel and add design notes where possible with planting troughs and decoration. They don’t need to be an eyesore!
Al fresco dining
A desirable selling point that should be a priority for businesses who have previously had an outdoor area as an afterthought. If guests still feel uncomfortable dining inside, it gives the option to dine outside, which is particularly important as we move back towards the warmer months. It is important we provide guests with the same special dining experience as they would receive inside restaurants. Things to consider enhancing this experience are using decorative planters to divide tables with high planters, use heaters, lighting and comfortable seating to ensure guests still receive the same welcoming feel as if they were sat inside.
Focus on front of house
A warm and welcoming host point on arrival puts guests instantly put at ease, and that extends to the design. If guests are greeted at a beautifully designed waiter station, they will instantly feel comfortable and have a positive start to the experience. If the space doesn’t currently have one, it’s worth investing and created a feature out of it, so staff can still provide a personal service by showing guests to their table and create that WOW first impression.
With the current regulations, it’s going to be hard for guests to still feel the same inviting, atmospheric dining experience. this can be achieved by using soft lighting on a dimmer system, so it can be altered to suit a daytime setting or an evening environment. You can add a music system to play background music and use soft furnishings in curtains and blinds to bring a softer light into the room.
Set to be a big interiors trend for 2021, we will see a lot of places implementing natural, organic materials into their restaurants and homes. With guests wanting to know more now than ever where materials and food are coming from, bringing natural materials into a restaurant will help with creating a clean, pure ambience that will further put guests at ease.