For restaurants chasing profits, it's not all about the food!
In an industry where the competition is hyper competitive, a restaurant owner needs to be on the ball and not spending time constantly tinkering with their menu thinking that is their innovative edge.
People in the restaurant business have long understood that design and ambiance matter a great deal, and studies by environmental psychologists and other social scientists confirm that the shrewd manipulation of a restaurant’s physical environment can boost profits.
Consequently, a perpetual arms race of restaurant redesign has become a defining feature of many international restaurant chains. The scramble has been especially frantic in recent years, with fast food giants KFC and Subway revamping their interiors, along with casual dining chains such as T.G.I.Friday’s.
In many cases, a restaurant’s design is closely aligned with its profit model. Studies have shown that design features that heighten arousal levels — bright lights, loud music and bright colors — get people to eat more food and eat it faster.
Bright lights also decrease the length of diners visits and the amount of alcohol that they consume. At fast food restaurants — where a quick turnover of customers is a key to success and ordering alcohol often isn’t an option — all of these elements.
Meanwhile, dimmer lighting brings people closer together, causes them to speak more softly and leads to longer stays. Soft jazz music tends to also keep people in the restaurant longer — which has been shown to lead to higher food ratings (and a larger bill).
In short, fast food and family-friendly places typically don’t want to encourage people to hang around. Bright lighting, seating arrangements that don’t offer a lot of privacy and loud music create an atmosphere that facilitates higher turnover.
High-end restaurants, on the other hand — with their plush decor, dimmer lighting and more comfortable furniture — make customers more likely to linger over post-dinner desserts or order one more round.