Why Good Lighting is Critical for Your Restaurant


Regardless of the style of restaurant you’re setting up, the most important thing for you to get right is the lighting. When it comes to food and ambience, nothing sets (or kills) the mood faster than the design and layout of your lights.

A wide range of creative lighting solutions and designer lights in all kinds of materials, shapes, and sizes can add drama to a space or provide a cosy, intimate environment, depending on what mood you want to create.

A restaurant designed for a romantic evening out will have different lighting to the average BBQ-and-dance party venue, which will in turn be different from an up-scale place that wealthy businessmen bring clients to, to win over that deal.

But regardless of what kind of atmosphere you’re aiming for, you’ll need to think about a couple of key points to ensure that the lighting matches the ambience you’re aiming for.


Too light? Or too dark?

Your first priority when choosing restaurant lighting is to ensure that there’s enough light so any food or drink on the table in front of someone is visible. If your customers are fumbling around in the dark because you haven’t provided enough lighting, they won’t be very impressed. Keep the dark and dimly lit environment for the nightclubs and the bedroom.

At the same time, if the lighting is too bright then the environment is going to appear harsh and unfavourable to a comfortable meal. As lighting plays a critical role in how your patrons will perceive both the colour and layout of your decor, it’s a good idea to invest in lighting that has a dimmer switch, as this will give you precise control over how much light washes into the space.


Understand the movement and behaviour of your patrons

It’s important that you design your lighting around the flow of your restaurant. For example, if your restaurant offers a buffet then you should create an island of light around the buffet, both so that the guests can see what food is available and it’s also a subtle way to direct them to the buffet when they’re ready to start eating. Similarly, lighting can be used cleverly to highlight where the bathroom is, or at least be used in the signage directing patrons to where it is.

Additionally, an increasing number of restaurants are using lighting strategically in the bar to show off their finest wines and liquors that they stock. This type of strategic branding can be used in many ways to influence the customer’s purchasing behaviour.


Don’t commit the lighting to one specific restaurant design

The food industry is one that is heavily influenced by fashion and design innovation. Just as a menu needs to be refreshed from time to time in order to have customers returning and to keep the food fresh and exciting, so too does the interior design need to be refreshed from time to time.

For this reason it’s recommended that you don’t install any lighting styles that will later restrict your ability to renovate the restaurant. LED lighting is a popular choice at the moment precisely because it is flexible and the glow it produces isn’t too intense. An added benefit is that LED lights can come in a wide range of colours (giving you even greater control over the restaurant’s ambience) and are incredibly energy efficient, helping to keep down the overheads.


Don’t forget the exterior lighting

Making good use of lighting on the outside of the building is as important as getting it right inside. Well-designed exterior lighting can invite people inside, and in fact can make it clear that the restaurant is open for business, particularly if it is out of the way. Additionally, well-lit exteriors prevent incidents from happening and provide a sense of security for the building. It’s the first impression that potential patrons are going to have of your restaurant, and it’s an opportunity to create a memorable experience before they’ve even sat down and looked at the menu.

Lighting in the entrance can also help you define your customer demographics. Young people, for instance, will be attracted by modern designs and relatively low levels of lighting that suggest something fashionable or chic. Older patrons will generally find brighter and more traditional lighting more appealing in an entrance.