In a saturated restaurant market, getting customers to notice your establishment can be increasingly tricky, with more restaurants than ever closing because of the increasing competition. Some of the most successful restaurants competing in the 21st Century market space will certainly have a unique edge – offering customers unusual, quirky and exciting experiences. This can be achieved by constructing a customer experience with thematic elements, including interiors, food and furniture – these giving the restaurant a distinctive look and bringing in people from far and wide. Not only will this create a buzz around the restaurant name, but it also presents an opportunity to charge higher prices, with customers paying more for experiences that are out of the ordinary. So just how can you capitalise on this trend?
One of the most popular ways to capture the attention of customers is to opt for a culturally themed restaurant that focuses on a specific type of cuisine from around the world. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book and acts as a key selling point for establishments. This can be achieved through utilising carefully selected interiors that compliment the style of cuisine and cement the overall cultural look of the establishment. If you are opting for a Mexican style restaurant, then using traditional Mexican interiors will really play on this selling point. Bright colour palettes, raw woods and over the top decorations will certainly compliment the authentic and flavoursome menu. In particular, opting for dark wood side chairs will distinctly convey the Mexican theme – allowing customers to immerse themselves in the cultural dining experience.
Another way to capture themed dining is through focusing cuisine and design around a specific time period. Whether this is futuristic design, 19th Century design or something from 1940s America, it can really intrigue customers and make a restaurant unique. This is demonstrated through the success of old school American Diners in the UK, which have risen in popularity and offer an interesting way to eat fast food. Incorporating traditional high bar stools as part of the eating place will be sure to create an American feel, whilst offering a place for speedy diners to eat. Conversely, pubs may opt for an older look, focusing on 19th Century design attributes, dense woods and darker carpets. This creates a traditional pub feel – promoting a homely and warm dining environment.
If you really want to try something a little different to bring in more customers, then go beyond the food and interiors and incorporate a theme into the service itself. Many restaurants are revolutionising the way they serve customers, with new technologies representing unique opportunities to transform the customer experience. For example, some restaurants in Japan now use digital ordering systems with touch screen technology – this giving the customer an exciting and innovative experience whilst also saving money on waiting staff. Moreover, there are opportunities to expand further on the self-service theme by providing customers the opportunity to cook food at the table. This is original, sets the restaurant apart from competitors and will be sure to entice customers through the door.
Luxury dining is a longstanding part of UK restaurant culture and is the ideal theme for those restaurants looking to charge higher prices and offer customers an elegant dining experience. When offering luxury dining, the food must be fantastic and the interiors must be equally as lavish. Choosing decadent materials, such as luxe velvets, button back upholstery and high quality woods will give the space an air of superiority, differentiating the space from competitors and generating repeat business.
By Liam O’Donnell, director of Valdivian Furniture, a British furniture manufacturer that specialises in bespoke, hand crafted contract furniture