Menu

The Restaurant Experience

Following mass shutdowns that forced reliance on carryout and delivery services, people want to return to the traditional dine-in experience. While dine-in may look a little different in light of the pandemic, people still crave the restaurant experience they remember from that time before.

coffee shop

Just like before, it’s common to hear when people have a terrible experience at a restaurant, and you can usually tell where things went awry. While those examples can show other places what not to do, they don’t typically create a picture of what makes a great restaurant experience.

What is the restaurant experience? It’s a combination of factors that makes your guests feel appreciated, fulfilled, and comfortable. Crafting the ideal restaurant experience requires a balanced blend of service, cuisine, and atmosphere. It helps to break things down into three factors.

  • Warm and efficient service at every stage is crucial. People respond well to friendly, personal, and genuine interactions.
  • Pay attention to the menu. Offer a variety of food and drink options that are consistently excellent. 
  • Craft a memorable aesthetic. Paying attention to details can set your restaurant apart.

In addition, creating a superior and unique 4 walls experience is important now because table service restaurants aren’t just competing with each other, they are competing with fast casual, quick service, to go, grocery, meal kits… and the point of differentiation for table service is what you get as part of that experience that you sacrifice in the others.

People eat at restaurants for a break, and it’s about more than the food. When a team goes the extra mile at every stage, the effort shows through, and guests usually appreciate it. That’s not to say that you can please every guest, but you can try.

Improving Restaurant Atmosphere

Whether you’re just starting up or reworking your existing restaurant experience, there’s always room for improvement. Depending on your time and budget, you can make several changes to improve your restaurant’s atmosphere fast.

modern room with tables and chairs in shopping mall

Staffing and Service

Have you noticed guests shifting in their seats or looking around for a server? Maybe you’ve caught more than one guest rolling their eyes or complaining to their companions after a server vacated their table. 

Waiting too long for drinks and food is never a good thing, but annoying servers can be a deal-breaker. Unfortunately, hiring capable and friendly staff is not the most straightforward task these days. If only there were a way to fill the staffing gap without compromising customer service. 

Thankfully, there is such a solution. You could make the most of your top staff without overworking them by leveraging technology to take on some of the work. Ziosk is a platform for the restaurant industry that helps offset stress on your team while creating a stellar experience for your customers. 

The platform is a one-stop-shop that can handle multiple tasks so that your team can focus on delivering exceptional face-to-face interactions.

Some notable features of Ziosk include: 

  • It manages menus, which makes ordering fast and easy
  • Payment processing is seamless, so there’s less waiting for servers
  • It highlights promotions at your restaurant to bring customers back
  • Works with POS and loyalty programs

Additionally, the platform offers content management options and online ordering configurations. It’s an excellent way to bridge the gap between staffing shortages and fulfilling customer service needs.

Cleanliness

A clean restaurant sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s often easier in theory than actual practice. When you’re running around trying to keep up with customer needs, it can be a challenge to maintain the necessary cleanliness standards. Working on creating a regimen for cleaning is extremely important.

Branding and Decor

What is your theme? Everything from your branding and menus to the colors throughout your restaurant should be consistent. Even if you chose a mish-mash, eclectic theme, everything you use should follow that theme.

set of menus for cafes and restaurants

Lighting

Though lighting can get lumped with the decor, it’s in a class all its own. Lighting sets the mood and can make or break an experience. Your staff needs enough light to work, but do your guests need spotlights on their meals?

Cozy wooden interior of restaurant, copy space. Comfortable modern dining place, contemporary design background

Background Noise

Is your restaurant too loud for people to maintain conversations? Do you have music blaring like an after-hours rave? Even Mozart can be distracting at 60 decibels, so it’s essential to consider the noise level. 

Tips for Improving Restaurant Atmosphere 

Knowing what makes a great restaurant experience is only half the battle. Crafting a welcoming restaurant atmosphere that keeps guests coming back for more is the goal. It takes time and effort, but hopefully, these tips can get you on your way.

Seek Feedback

Look for reviews and encourage guests to leave feedback. You can try running a promotion seeking feedback. You could also ask friends or family to visit without letting staff know how they are.

Revisit Existing Processes

Ask your staff for feedback and take notes. Look at each room with fresh eyes before, during, and after peak service times. You might be surprised at what you notice!

  • Is the cleaning routine lacking? The importance of a clean restaurant cannot be understated, and visually showing these cleaning activities translates to guests feeling a sense of trust.
  • Are there lights out? Is one area too bright or dim? 
  • Does the staff feel lags at various points? The chances are good that if they don’t feel efficient, they aren’t. It might signal that you need to improve the process with technological support.

It’s not easy to take a hard look at how you do things, especially if it’s ingrained. However, sometimes change is the best way to improve.

Create an Experience

Living in the age of social media provides ample opportunity for free promotion and fun experiences for your guests. Make a photo wall or unique location for guests to snap pictures for social media and encourage them to use a custom hashtag for your restaurant. Make your restaurant stand out from all the rest. 

Restaurant Experience FAQs 

Crafting an excellent restaurant experience takes effort, and you probably have more questions. Hopefully, these answers will help clear things up for you and your team.

What makes a restaurant unique?

There are many ways to differentiate your restaurant experience from others. Get creative with decor, the menu, and even social media. Craft a story and tell it through every aspect of your restaurant. Don’t forget to pay attention to the details. 

Unique plating and creating food that has a bit of theater can help drive interest inside the 4 walls as well. Table-side pouring and drizzling a sauce, serving something with smoke – the artistry adds to the experience.

hibachi chef stacks onion rings on a grill

How do you make a restaurant feel warm and inviting?

Making guests feel welcome is the key, and it involves every aspect of the restaurant experience, but most importantly, service. Greeting every customer with friendliness and warmth goes a long way. 

Consistently delivering efficient and friendly service makes people feel welcome. Not only that, but make an effort to remember the faces that come in more than once. Remembering someone is a great way to make a connection with your clients. 

How can you design a restaurant with a small budget?

It’s possible to develop a stunning restaurant without breaking the bank by keeping things simple and cohesive. Commit to a statement wall and unique elements, like local art or special seating.