How to Create a Successful Fine Dining Restaurant
What is a fine dining restaurant?
Before you do anything at all, it very crucial to ask this question; what exactly is a fine dining restaurant? If I go by definition alone, the term ‘Fine Dining’ is actually a “restaurant concept that offers patrons the finest in food, service, and atmosphere.” Off the record, a fine dining institution is one that is highly upscale, high-end and offers only the most sophisticated of services. So when you’re opening a fine dining restaurant design, it is important to understand the actual purpose and promise of the establishment.
When it comes to designing restaurants and eateries, it is always important to settle on a genre first. There are many types of restaurants – fast food, cafes, hipster, coffee shops and more – but fine dining restaurants hold a category that is completely their own.
Further on, I’ll be recounting everything you need to remember about designing a fine dining restaurant establishment.
12 ways to accomplish a fine dining restaurant design
1. The concept of fine dining
The actual concept of the space is extremely open to interpretation. But if you plan to promote your new restaurant as a fine dining establishment, it should be distinctly different and lavish than any other eatery in the area.
A fine dining restaurant design is very formal and expensive in tastes. It’s not at all frilly napkins and checkered tablecloths. In fact, many fine dining establishments tend to be quite simple, understated and luxurious in design. I’d go as far as to say that the goal is to wow your guests with subtle details and a terrific atmosphere to keep them returning.
Of course one of the most important parts of the concept is the brand identity. Since fine dining is very exclusive and catered to a select patronage, it is important to deduce the right marketing and branding strategy. You have to talk carefully about your brand and identity, or your restaurant may turn out to be ‘one of many.’ You won’t have anything special to offer your customers, and it will drive away all the potential patrons.
A very cool sample is Chefs Club in New York where design concept is based on the notion that Chefs Club will break down the boundaries between the chef and guests.
One of the best parts about a fine dining establishment is that it is a destination spot. This means you may have a little leeway with the location. It doesn’t have to be completely mainstream or chosen according to the demographic. It can be in an isolated part of the town, and your patrons would still be willing to make the trip – given the right marketing strategy.
People tend to make dinner reservations weeks, or even months ahead of time. So a fine dining restaurant design can be carried out in converted buildings like barns, older homes, industrial warehouses and other unique structures.
3. Creating a fine dining menu
As I mentioned before, a fine dining restaurant is extremely understated in all of its services. Nothing stands out individually, but the combination of every design element creates a memorable and stimulating experience. You basically have to evoke an aura of exclusivity.
The ambiance has to speak to the customer – ‘You’re at an elite establishment for specialized eating.’ Therefore, the menu is an important part of that experience. So you should always make sure that the menu emulates the chic sophistication of your fine dining restaurant design. It should be presented in an elegant form and printed on good quality paper.
Once again, proper branding and graphic designing is what can make your menu stand out. Amazing graphics can definitely hook the customer. They may even try something out of curiosity from the menu if the illustration is clever enough. So always pay special attention to your menu design in relation to branding!
4. Specialized fine dining equipment
Since a fine dining restaurant is always leaning towards an exclusive vibe, you should always consider the style of your equipment. This includes the plates, flatware, linens as well as the furniture. All of these objects are going to help set up the mood in the dining area. Therefore, overlooking even a single one can result in ambient imbalance in the design. A fine dining restaurant design is a nicely deduced sum of these parts, so always invest in specialized equipment.
5. Ergonomics of the kitchen
The kitchen is a highly specialized part of any restaurant. So a kitchen crafted for a fine dining restaurant design should be customized according to the needs of the establishment. The equipment inside should always reflect the menu. If you are using a lot of freshly made produce and homemade desserts/breads, then you’ll need adequate space to store and prepare the food. This may also mean that you’ll need less freezer space.
6. The Basic Restaurant Floor Plans
At its heart, any restaurant is an ergonomic space. It requires a careful blend of efficiency, physical and psychological needs in its design. This delicate blend should be topped off with the utmost practicality. Here are a few pointers to get you started with the basic planning of a fine dining restaurant design:
- Always take the flow of the wait-staff from the kitchen to the dining area into consideration.
- Similarly, always take the flow of dining area to the restrooms in consideration.
- The hostess stations and waiting areas must be in front of the restaurant – preferably in the entrance lobby.
- Other front-room areas include dining room, bar, and public restrooms.
Here’s what you must consider the commercial kitchen plan:
- The kitchen plan should encourage a natural flow of traffic.
- This means that the spaces should be put into sequences according to the flow of work; i.e. storage, preparation, cooking, serving and washing.
- So you should designate areas in your floor plan for prep, cooking stations and dishwashing zones.
- The storage and dispatch should be close to the back entrance.
- You can also choose to include an office, an employee bathroom or break room at the back of the establishment.
To get the best fine dining restaurant design, you must create a detailed outline of your restaurant floor plan and examine the potential successes and failures of your plan through the eyes of the managers, chefs, servers, bussers, and bartenders. Try to be as sure about the final outcome as you possibly can, because floor plans are not easy to modify once you set them up.
7. Estimated seating capacity
An important part of creating the best fine dining restaurant design is calculating the seating capacity. Before designing the layout of the dining space, you have to determine how many people are going to be served at any given time in a day. Depending on the size of the establishment, you can go for 100 people to 300 people. But since fine dining is exclusive, the smaller that number, the better.
Once the seating capacity is set, you can begin determining the dimensions of the restrooms, bar area, storage facilities and the locations of the server stations. Note that your entire restaurant should be ADA compliant. This means that people with disabilities should be able to maneuver through the restaurant with ease.
8. Considerations for an effective layout
Every fine dining restaurant comes with its own sets of requirements. Some establishments only require a single dining hall, while others may need private rooms to accommodate special parties. Here are some major fine dining restaurant design considerations for you to consider:
- Avoid putting dining tables near restrooms.
- Try to avoid placing tables in the center of the dining hall. Peripheral table layouts are the best.
- No tables should be placed near the front doors.
- Tables next to the kitchen or bus stations can be very uncomfortable for the patrons.
- You can use creative screens, tall plants, and elegant dividers to create divisions between tables.
9. Fine dining restaurant music
Music is a sensory stimulator. This means that good music can stimulate the appetite of your customers in a fine dining restaurant design. The music will set the theme and the mood. If your budget allows, you can even invest in live music. A simple jazz quartet can set a lively mood inside the establishment and provide excellent entertainment at the same time. If you decide on bringing on live music, then make sure to consult with your designers. They can set up and arrange the layout to make it more customized and impactful. Here’s a list of some popular dining music according to professionals.
10. Fine dining lighting
Lighting is the most important part of the dining experience. It not only sets the mood but also creates the overall ambiance. Properly crafted lighting can maximize efficiency and function along with the aesthetic. Take a look at the pros of proper lighting design in context with fine dining restaurant designs:
- Lighting can create individual zones in a large area. Pendant lights are especially good for accomplishing this.
- A grand lighting fixture can be used as a feature object in a lobby or foyer to attract patrons and wow them.
- Good exterior lighting can attract potential customers to your restaurant.
11. Heating & Ventilation
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and felt either too hot or too cold? And then you’d find yourself yearning for the Goldilocks effect of heating and cooling? Similarly, have you ever felt too stuffy in a restaurant establishment? That’s the effect of improper heating and ventilation in a fine dining restaurant design.
It’s an important consideration. Overlooking it may cause ambient and atmospheric flaws in the space that can drive your patrons away. It’s also important to use proper air conditioning (which is a part of your HVAC systems) in the establishment.
Ventilation is especially important in restaurant kitchens because they produce a large amount of smoke and odors throughout the day. Improper ventilation in the kitchens can be hazardous to the owners, the workers and the clients alike.
Lastly, it is important to consider the proper orientation and positioning of your restaurant. It can affect the exterior and interior of your fine dining restaurant design. For example, a restaurant that specializes in breakfast could use the building orientation to their advantage by designing the windows on the east side of the building. A sea-side fine dining establishment can orient their dining to the west to feature the best sunset views.
You should also consider the sun-path throughout the way. Placing large window portals on the south side can start a glass-house effect in your establishment. By properly orienting your building, you can adhere to passive cooling tactics. This would largely reduce your electricity and air-conditioner bills.
Restaurant design can be a very challenging task, but by studying and implementing these key points, you can definitely get the best establishment.