Asthetics (what I see/smell and feel) will quickly determine whether I step another foot inside a restaurant, or bout-face out the door. Without getting into a lengthy diatribe of what subtle elements work together to create perfect ambiance, I will list five peeves guaranteed to make liking your restaurant a challenge . If you are an offender of any item in this list, and I haven't heard 100% rave reviews of your food I WILL NEVER sit down to eat in your restaurant. So please read, learn, and enjoy
#5 Fake flowers-When I see them I immediately think "fake flowers=fake food". The restaurateur who believes I won't know the difference between fake and real Ivy, will also assume I can't taste preservative laden bottled sauces and dressings. While this might not be true (I've had some of the yummiest mexican food in places that look like the "floral" section of Ben Franklin) there is no reason to send the wrong impression. Also, it's proven that real plants greatly improve indoor air quality. Putting fake plants withe zero purpose besides looking tacky in the place of hard working air scrubbing living flora, seems a grand missed opportunity to make my dining experience lovely and fully oxygenated.
Whats worse-unnaturally colored fake flora like all the late 80's pink and blue silk flower arrangements once adorning my mothers front entry.
#4 Institutional Ceilings- I don't know the official name of this type of ceiling but imagine being bored in elementary school, looking up, and lobbing a pencil into it among a sea of spit wads. Imagine being at work and doing (at least wishing to do) the same thing. Now imagine being at the gyno or the dentist and the lovely view you see while you are being unpleasantly probed. Are you getting the picture??? This ceiling does anything BUT convey comfort and entice me to enjoy a meal. It reminds me too much of all the places I'm trying NOT to visit. I must say however, that my irritation with this depends on the ticket price of the meals served. I'll forgive it in an in'n'out but not in $20+ french cafe's (yes I'm talking about you Cafe Campinile, ElDo Hills). If you run a restaurant located in a strip mall that features such ceilings PAINT IT. That's all I'm asking. If your land lord won't let you- look into fabrics that can be draped across the ceiling which can also be used in conjuction with clever lighting effects.
What's worse- Institutional type ceiling with brown water stains-GROSS!
#3 Bad colors-I don't profess to be a color consultant (although hiring one is a grand idea for any eatery owner), but there are a couple colors that are a bad idea so stay away. Minty hospital green is the first. I don't know what Behr calls its version of said color, but were they to name it Hospital Green, people might learn to steer clear and stop mutilating their dining rooms. There is never a reason to remind your diners about the single place horrid food is guaranteed.
The second is actually two colors put together-pink and light blue. Yo Chinese restaurants called Chinese Restaurant. I'm talking to YOU and 1989 called wanting it's pleather booths back.
Another color to be careful with is blue because natural foods never come in such a color except for blueberries which are more purple. Because of this, blue turns OFF appetite rather than stimulating it. You can use shades of blue but don't overuse them.
What's worse-hospital green walls with pea soup trim.
#2 Perfumed floor cleaner- I have only experienced this in a taqueria chain called La Fiesta and it really stunk! In a marketing class I learned that in Mexico cleaners are made with more perfumes than the same cleaner sold in the US because somehow the perception of clean got married to chemy perfume overload. La Fiesta- if you are reading this- you are in the USA and some of us are smell sensitive. This means that when we smell your beloved Fabuloso our eye's start to water, headaches attack, and no matter how much we love your burritos and salsa bar, we are physically unable stay inside long enough to order.
What's worse- The the person mopping has recently taken a bath in a drug store cologne knockoff.
2) Bad lighting- Ok ask my friends, I'm a bit nuts about this one. I once requested a complete table reassignment for a table of 8 because of inadequate yet intrusive lighting. To be fair it WAS my birthday which gives me certain inalienable rights of persnickitiness.
I will however move my table or leave the restaurant any day of the year if the lamp above the table is angled in such a way where I can see the bulb. I rarely dine alone and when I am with someone it's them I want to see. A jealous bald bulb come's between us and demands I pay more attention to IT than to my friend, my food, or even my thoughts. You can eliminate this problem by increasing points of light but reducing the wattage- for instance hanging strings of light across the ceiling like Cirino's on Main Street does. You can also pay more attention to reflective lighting like sconses or art display lights.
Also, ditch fluorescent-While you can get away with keeping themin a place where people love your food and order mostly take out, if you truly want people to enjoy a dining experience rather than feel like they are shopping in Wal-mart- get rid of institutional style, square ceiling tube lights. They make food look weird and people look weirder (who wants to look pasty on a date right?).
What's worse-a flourescant tube light that is ready to die and flickering in protest (epilectics beware).
What's worse worse- a dying tube light with a cover full of dead flies, moths, and mosquito hawks.