Guide To Restaurant Lighting The Best Lighting Tips For Any Restaurant

July 10, 2018 12:57 am by sandiego
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Guide To Restaurant Lighting The Best Lighting Tips For Any Restaurant

Imagine yourself ordering a medium rare, large, ribeye steak at a restaurant only to cut into it for the middle to appear orange and unappetizing. Or picture yourself at a fine dining restaurant that’s so poorly lit your entire party has to take out their cell phones just to view the menu. 

Quoting Ricardo Legorreta, an architect, “Light attracts people, it shows the way, and when we see it in the distance, we follow it.”

Interior-Deluxe: Proper lighting outside definitely does add the beauty, texture and charm to the building, being visible, alerting them that you are open for business and inviting potential customers in. You need your entranceways, the signs, parking areas and architectural highlights to be well lighted for the purpose of highlighting, providing illumination to avoid accidents and generating a sense of security. What you need to consider is the placement, and the degree of intensity and the style of your fixtures remain in harmony with the atmosphere. Landscape lights, ground lights or goose neck lights are the ideal choices.

Once you’ve done your studying, it’s time to get serious about upgrading your restaurant lighting. Use our energy savings calculator to see how much you could save by upgrading to more energy-efficient, long-life lighting.

Interior-Deluxe – Inappropriate lighting does indeed destroy the experience offered by the restaurant. It is important that you understand the atmosphere you desire and the type of venue it is, to be able to reinforce the existing theme positively. From a glow of intimacy to the feel of spaciousness and relaxation, the layout and selection of fixtures for lighting should address the image to be conveyed, color, uses of the space, atmosphere, visibility, and surface finishes. These factors determine the layered lighting approach, the lighting control, and the light-level variation.

Ingo has been in the lighting business for over 20 years. He regularly blogs about trends and tips in the industry while running one of the most complete contemporary lighting ecommerce sites on the net. Please take a moment to browse his website and feel free to contact Ingo for all your lighting needs.

Expand your scope of success by remembering to give your customers and not the architecture the top-most priority. They are the ones your business is all about. When you are concerned about their comfort level, you will make sure there is pleasant lighting. Use colors sparingly to accentuate the moments or any details at your place. A wrong selection would lead you to a circus-like environment.

Chapters in the Guide to Restaurant Lighting include: Ambiance: Color temperature recommendations based on the type of restaurant. Dimming: Why quality dimming is important in a restaurant environment.

Highlight artwork and tables: How to properly aim lighting to highlight artwork and tables in a restaurant.  Menu: Helpful tips for lighting menus based on your restaurant type. Exterior: Tips for attracting customers with quality exterior lighting.

LED product selection: Our top LED product recommendations for a restaurant setting.

Your entrance area would determine the first impression of your restaurant. It is likely to become the waiting area in cases that the dining room is completely occupied. Plan your lighting accordingly so that it may not have any negative psychological effect on your clients. While young people tend to be fascinated with low levels of lighting, associated commonly with high quality service and even higher prices, older people generally want brighter light to appease their moods.

“However unusual or experimental the design of a bar, a minimum level of comfort should always be ensured,” explains Morosow. Guests must always be able to read the menu and see their food. Direct glare should also be avoided by placing lamps outside the natural field of vision. Watch out for light that could be reflected into people’s view from shiny surfaces or mirrors. Diffusers, such as frosted glass or fabrics, can be useful here.

A final note. Whatever style you choose to go with, make sure to have them with clear glass shades. They would add the required sparkle apart from guaranteeing you a maximized output of light.

First impressions are important, and when it comes to hospitality, lighting plays a bigger role than you might expect. With some still in the dark about how to create the right mood, we asked an expert.

2. Learn more about Color Temperature (CCT) and Color Rendering Index (CRI)

Lighting is key to atmosphere. “Generally speaking, warm, cozy light makes people feel most comfortable, especially in cooler climates.” By warm light we are generally referring to lamps with less than 3000 Kelvin. Installing a dimmer switch adds an element of flexibility, enabling the brightness of a venue to be adjusted to create different moods. Automated control systems can further aid the process, enabling different settings to be programmed according to the time of the day or year.

Bar lighting tends to be different to restaurant lighting. As bars normally also aim to provide a form of entertainment, it is more common to experiment with color. Restaurants on the other hand often require more reserved lighting, creating a relaxed environment. Of course this varies according to concept. Color is also used to promote branding and a good way to introduce brand colors. “Be careful not to overdo it though!”

One style that is rapidly gaining influence in restaurants is to have them adorned in LEDs. Energy-efficient, flexible, and absolutely beautiful, these lamps are available in a wide array of patterns and colors. You don’t have to worry whether your place uses prewired tapes and materials or standard fixtures. If you can afford them, you are saving up on your cooling budget later. Do a prior check, however, on the ones you purchase that they do not have a problem with dimmers.

When someone enters a venue, they should know within the first few seconds where to go and where to find what. “Orientation is essential.” Light can be used to guide guests around a venue by drawing their attention to different focal points or areas. Focal points are created through contrasts in brightness, often between accent lighting and ambient lighting. Recommendations vary, but a 5:1 contrast ratio of accent to ambient is a good starting point to make items stand out.

Restaurants take a large amount of energy to operate so you may jump at a quick retrofit opportunity. It’s critical to find a reputable manufacturer to partner with to provide you with quality lighting that dims well. Beware of unintended consequences from ‘inexpensive, efficient lighting. 

For some it’s the grouping of pendant fixtures especially for the places you wish to highlight. The host area or over a booth are places where these lights are generally used. A multi-leveled cluster can have pendants of similar size and shape to make it have a dramatic appeal or they may be arranged in a single line to emphasize the resemblance of the lighting choice. Other owners of the joints in demand call for industrial fixtures of a 1965 type, in their dining rooms catering to both the upscale as well as the casual atmospheres.

The food can be delicious, the drinks perfectly chilled, but if the light isn’t right, the customer won’t bite. And there are studies to prove it. A recent survey* found that “72% of respondents had left a venue earlier than planned because it was too brightly or poorly lit,” whilst “74 % of respondents had stayed longer than planned because the lighting made them feel relaxed and welcome.”

Each bar and restaurant has its own individual style. “When designing your venue, you should consider three things: concept, target audience and the space you are using,” explains Morosow. For example, a small bar might only require individual tables to be accentuated, whilst a larger space may need to use lighting to differentiate and separate different areas.

Color temperature and color rendering index are large pieces to the restaurant lighting puzzle. It’s helpful to have a well-rounded understanding of CCT and CRI and how they impact the ambiance and appearance of your restaurant. In this guide, we break down the definitions, explain how to choose CCT and CRI, and how to solve for color consistency.

Different lights can perform different tasks. The first step is ambient lighting. This is the main source of light in a bar or restaurant, providing the general level of lighting. Used as diffuse surface-directed lighting, it can also make ceilings seem higher or walls wider. Next comes task lighting. These are fittings applied in areas where work needs to be carried out, such as the cash register or the kitchen. Then comes accent lighting. This is typically spot lighting that draws attention to the architecture or a particular feature. It includes up-lighting on walls or columns, as well as back bar lighting. Finally, comes the fun bit! Both decorative lighting and effect lighting is what personalizes a bar or restaurant. Functionality is less significant here; it’s about creating an individual style.

If you’re a restaurant manager or restaurant owner reading that, I’m sure you may be cringing a little. 

Interior-Deluxe: Interior designing is usually the most expensive of the investment on any project you wish to start in this business. Redecorating and redesigning your place at regular intervals does not remain an issue if you had been the wise one to opt for flexible lighting. I said regular intervals because you need to break the monotony and maintain it both as fresh and attractive for the existing clientele as well as the ones they will be talking to about the way your restaurant feels and looks. The rule of the thumb states that you need to be creative.

The uplighting feature is further used to show off the wall finishes such as hand applied plaster or untreated wood instead of sidelighting or downlighting. The aim is to provide the wall with a dimension and is achieved with having the fixtures implanted at the top of wainscoting or better yet behind the banquettes or booths. And although most people avoid the intense lighting of colored LEDs, they (magenta, red and blue particularly) can be used to enliven the place specifically on weekends.

What do you think the current trend in restaurant interior design is?

When restaurants and foodservices are designed, one thing that their planning must include beside the physical space is lighting. Place yourself in their shoes and you’ll find your customers desiring a feast for their senses at your branch. Functional as well as setting the mood of your establishment, it is important that your design to leave your customers impressed enough for a return.

Not to be confused with colored lighting, color rendering is the ability of a light source to reveal the true colors of various objects. Expressed as an index, the lower the score, the poorer the color rendering properties of a lamp. The highest score is 100. In restaurants and kitchens, a minimum of score of 80 is required; but 90 is better. Getting the color rendering index (CRI) wrong could mean that the visual impression of food (and drinks) doesn’t reach its full potential, having a strong impact on customer experience.

Our lighting designers and restaurant lighting specialists have put together some simple and easy tips to help enhance your restaurant lighting.

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* Figures taken from a MEGAMAN survey carried out amongst 236 hospitality professionals by Big Hospitality during October 2015.

Next, with Edison lamps becoming popular, some business operations are working with low light levels for inducing a sexy atmosphere and making these light elements stand out prominent. But, they necessitate for you to have pinpoint lighting so that the tabletop light levels at least are respecting the customer needs of comfort and safe circulation. Plus, you need to make sure they are in line with the state regulations. With these Edison lamps, another factor that has been approved of lately deals with exposed incandescent suspended with a cord over a table or even bars for soft glow.

We have lighting specialists on staff with years of experience in the restaurant industry ready to help you work through the steps of a restaurant lighting upgrade. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions along the way.

10. And finally, we asked Ms. Morosow what is more important: design or functionality?

Current trends are seeing a return to basics. “Light sources are now open, with lampshades removed and chords hanging from the ceiling.” Retro-feel light bulbs with an exposed filament are very popular, as it is the bulbs themselves that are the design feature. When it comes to non-decorative lighting, bars and restaurants are increasingly turning to LEDs in order to save money and reduce maintenance. “Both these trends are likely to be here to stay,” says Morosow.

“Lighting is often an afterthought,” says Ms. Morosow, “an added extra thrown in shortly before opening a venue.” However, as a number of factors such as the location of electricity sockets and venue layout are essential to lighting design, it makes sense to consider everything together. Take tables for example. An effective way to highlight individual tables, especially in restaurants, is to install pendant lights (lone hanging fittings) above them. “Without careful planning, it might only be possible to have lights above certain tables!”

Fourth, since the bars have become the focal point for restaurants, designers have resorted to introduce dramatic lighting there in order to sell their premium liquors. From the backlighting or using of track lights, they have worked out for the uplighting element along the back bar. Some of them put in efforts to combine frosted glass panels behind with colored LED to pull off a richer texture and color. Others still have managed well with plain LED lamps placed in spaces along the rear edge of its shelving to get that effect of pop of light. Moreover, if they have been positioned directly behind a transparent liquor bottle that enables effective branding too.

What about exterior lighting? I believe it is as crucial to my business as the interior lighting.

As you prepare to upgrade your restaurant and hospitality lighting, here are three things to add to your checklist:

Having the right, quality light for a restaurant is incredibly important for the customer’s experience and the appearance of your product, the food. Whether you’re a fast food restaurant or a high-end restaurant, mistakes with improper dimming, poor color temperature settings, and the wrong lamp types can set the restaurant up for the wrong impression from diners. 

As time is money, bar lighting and restaurant lighting is clearly something to take seriously. We spoke to Julia Morosow, International Key Account Manager for Hospitality in Europe at LEDVANCE to find out how light can serve to create a perfect customer experience. These are her ten golden rules:

What attributes should I look for in making the lighting of my restaurant enjoyable?

Light your restaurant by the different time of meals, and by the usage and space of your place. Fine dining in a restaurant has evolved to the point where subtlety in all details is the key. Direct lighting is valuable for areas where your food is displayed (for e.g. salad bars) whereas indirect lighting is used for creating the balance and making the place appear charming.

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