Design Trends and How to Incorporate Them into Your Restaurant

As anyone who has ever walked through a fixer upper home can attest, design trends can go from cutting edge, to quaint, to downright dated, if not changed. The same concept applies to restaurants and bars. The dining area, where guests eat, plays a major role in how they experience the menu and ultimately, the opinions they form about a restaurant. To bring you emerging design trends, we spoke to Lauren Williams, Director of Design for Primanti Bros. Restaurants, about where she sees the future of restaurant design heading including lighting, colors, and dining styles.

Lighting

Many restaurants that you enter today will have some form of an Edison bulb giving off light; the bulb has its own sort of appeal and definitely gives any space an industrial chic vibe, but patrons are starting to experience some fatigue with the trend. What was once a unique way to light a space has become so commonplace that it fails to make a restaurant stand out. While the bulbs are beautiful in their own way, sometimes they can leave a space feeling a little too dark compared to some of their brighter counterparts.

Some restaurants are moving back towards having more light in their establishments. Williams predicts a move “towards light, both natural and artificial,” and the idea of coming back to “seeing the food and seeing the people you’re interacting with in the space in a pure light.”

Allowing more light into a restaurant can be achieved through either large windows that encourage natural light to fill the space or with more powerful lights and light fixtures. A unique way to achieve those large windows is by incorporating glass garage doors into the front of the building. Garage doors allow for plenty of light and can either be opened to allow a cool breeze in the summer, or closed during the cooler months to prevent customers getting a chill.

Colors

Image found at hauteliving.com

After several years of dark, industrial design, patrons are beginning to look towards the opposite end of the spectrum. White, bright, fresh looks that are originating in places like California and Miami are making their way across the United States. Think more boho-chic than industrial charm for the future of restaurant design. Be on the lookout for bold use of color making its way back onto the scene in the upcoming years in response to the earthy tones that have been trending for the past few years.

An easy way to incorporate more color is by adding bright centerpieces to your table or hanging interesting, bright art on the walls. If you are looking for a more drastic change, consider making one of your walls into a bright mural that can be incorporated into your current design.

Less Formal Dining

It used to be that burger joints and formal dining spaces were mutually exclusive, but prepare to start seeing those lines blurring. Williams discussed the phenomenon as “flexibility as the number one goal. Rooms within rooms, privacy but also openness… it’s a shift to almost residential architecture”.  It is the trend of creating a residential feel that has communal dining furniture styles on the rise, along with more padded seats, similar to what would be found in a home. Communal dining is when a large group of diners sit at the same table to share a meal. In keeping with the trend, many restaurants have started serving meals family style with shareable plates. Large communal table tops make it easier to serve those meals on the large plates and trays that they require.

Tiles aren’t just for Bathrooms

Another emerging trend that contributes to creating a residential feel, is using tile to decorate areas of the dining room. Don’t be surprised to see tiles being used to create backsplashes on bars and even accent walls in restaurants. Tile, whether it is colorful or not, is a great way to bring interest into a particular area of a restaurant without being overwhelming. Designers have determined it is time for this material to shine in an area other than the bathroom and are working to bring it into more prominent areas of the restaurant.

Incorporating Trends in Your Restaurant

What if you own a preexisting restaurant? It wouldn’t be realistic to overhaul your entire restaurant design scheme every time the trends changed, but how do you stay relevant with what customers are looking for? According to Williams, new restaurants are more the trendsetters, while corporate restaurant groups or preexisting restaurants need to focus on maintaining their identities with subtle shifts to where the trend is appealing to their audience. A great way to do this is by “layering the vintage and the modern. Sometimes you go heavier on the modern, sometimes you go heavier on the vintage” urges Williams. It is all about reaching a balance that works for you, your restaurant, and the area you are located in.

If your restaurant is a predominantly vintage style, try adding in a few modern pieces to create the layered effect. Consider changing some of your current light fixtures for brighter alternatives or replacing your current wooden menu boxes with brightly painted metal holders instead.

Something to be conscious of when making any design choices, is your audience and location. Urban areas might be more accepting of trendy spots and designs that encourage communal eating, while rural areas might not be the best market to push the full trend on.

It is important for restaurant owners to stay abreast of the current design trends. Not only are these trends important to staying relevant and making sure your aesthetic doesn’t feel dated, but to giving your customers the complete experience of great food, an enjoyable atmosphere, great customer service, and a visually pleasing environment. Possibly, with a few adjustments to lighting or colors, your restaurant can be on top of the emerging trends that are leading the next phase of restaurant design.

Why We Love the Rustic Industrial Trend (And You Should, Too!)

Rustic TrendWant a look for your restaurant’s interior that has an organic, elegant style with an effortless je ne sais quoi? A timeless style that’s easy to pair with other décor items? Then the rustic industrial trend is the right theme for you.

Seen in home design, wedding themes, and splashed across Pinterest, the rustic industrial trend is still going strong in late 2016. But what inspired the Mason jar fervor?

As a culture, we are obsessed with authenticity. We crave a sense of legitimacy and timelessness. We love seeing genuine, honest to goodness labor turned into beauty. Showcasing cracks, daily wear and tear, and distressed accents embody this trend.

So what does this mean for your restaurant and the industry?

Within the last 10 years, restaurant-goers have seen a rise in sustainability and local allocation of food in the businesses that they frequent, playing upon authenticity and individualism to set themselves apart from the competition. Customers are more likely to trust these singular operations that are original in the way they do things. This trust is key to differentiate your restaurant. If you can get customers to believe in your mission and purpose, it will set you apart from your competition.
The desire for authenticity has birthed the rustic industrial trend. The interior originality of the restaurant is just as important as the food selection to consumers.

One characteristic that ties restaurant interiors into this look is showing evidence of craftsmanship. The raw aesthetic of these restaurants remind us of the physical labor that went into creating them with their visible markings. Some common features of rustic industrial interiors include natural materials, high ceilings, and unfinished wood for accents. It’s these nitty-gritty details that can transform your space into the charming eatery of your dreams.

We’ve made a list of our awesome customers that rock the rustic industrial trend.

11th and Bay

11th and Bay (Columbus, GA)

Built in an old cotton warehouse, 11th and Bay fits right into the rustic industrial theme. This restaurant pulls rustic inspiration with the exposed white brick, distressed rafters, pendant lights, reclaimed wood seats, and sliding barn door. The cool metal of the bar stools and chairs add an engineered look to this otherwise very warm-toned atmosphere. This balance looks great together and prevents the room from looking too antiquated. The interior of 11th and Bay reflects the business’ passion for southern hospitality and quality ingredients.

The Feed + Co.

The FEED Co. Table and Tavern (Chattanooga, TN)

A feed warehouse in the early 1900’s, the Chattanooga Craftworks building is now home to The FEED Co. Table and Tavern. The rustic industrial style was a no-brainer in a building with this kind of history. This restaurant is split into a table area and a tavern area based on where the warehouse was sectioned off. Exposed brick, factory swing doors, and wood floors use the building’s origin and make it work with the theme. To tie the individual rooms in together, the reclaimed tables and seats add a unifying element.  Harmonizing with the manufacturing atmosphere of the building, chairs, bar stools, and fixtures add a metallic contrast and create the balance between rustic and modern.

Hell n' Blazes

Hell’n Blazes Brewing Company (Melbourne, FL)

The building that now houses Hell’n Blazes Brewing Company has come a long way since its hardware store roots. The brewery still proudly displays its history with the adorned ceiling, hardwood floors, stone accents around the bar area, and other rustic décor. Visible duct work and drop lighting also add metallic tones, matching the chairs and bar stools. Hell’n Blazes holds onto the original feel of the building while introducing industrial design elements, an ideal setting for their combination of craft beer and historic structure.

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen (Newark, DE)

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen uses the rustic industrial theme to set the atmosphere and complement its combination of craft beer and live music. A casual setting for Newark restaurant-goers, this restaurant and bar is decorated with a unique machinery collection assembled on the wall, chalkboard details, and use of deep wood tones, contrasting with the exposed lightbulb fixtures. This type of lighting casts a soft glow on customers, reflecting off the metal chairs and bar stools. Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen brings together the rustic and industrial styles with the help of décor and furniture.

Distinguishing Rustic Features

The rustic industrial trend is a combination of varying materials and textures. If you are building or designing your restaurant with this trend in mind, here are some materials to consider using. To meet in the middle of rustic and industrial, you need pieces from both ends of the spectrum. Remember to soften hard metal elements with wood tones and vice versa, the blending of supplies makes this trend truly unique.

  • Exposed beams, brick, and stone
  • Unfinished, raw wood
  • Galvanized metal
  • Unrefined edges on furniture
  • Limited color palette of neutral, warm, and subtle tones
  • Concrete or wood floors
  • High ceilings (reminiscent of a barn or warehouse setting)
  • Open floor plan
  • Visible, bare light fixtures
  • Items repurposed to serve a function such as a pallet furniture, barrel sink

Ready to try the rustic industrial look in your restaurant or bar? Here are some of our must-have items to get your upgrade started.

Reclaimed Reclaimed Wood

Each reclaimed table top is made of solid oak wood salvaged from Pennsylvania or Ohio barns by our Amish craftsmen and come with a story of their own. Unique knots and grain patterns are combined to create an individual look every time with these tops. Repurposing items to use them as something else is what the rustic industrial trend is all about.

Urban Distressed

Urban Distressed Wood

The urban distressed table tops are a great option if you want the reclaimed wood look, but at a lower price point. These tops are handed sanded and distressed to add the rustic charm that’s perfect for your restaurant. Available in a provincial and dark walnut finishes to accommodate whatever color wood tone you would like.

Simon

The Simon

Our Simon bar stool and chair is the ideal complement to the wood of the tables. The Simon contemporary silhouette makes it the perfect match with its clean, smooth lines. To mimic the other wood tones, there is an option available to add a vinyl, urban distressed, or reclaimed wood seat. Or leave it metal for a completely modern feel.

Viktor

The Viktor

Complement your rustic restaurant or bar with the industrial Viktor bar stool or chair. The supportive, laid back structure of the Viktor adds a comfortable alternative to a wooden chair. Choose from rust, brushed transparent, or matte black to pair with your tables. This stylish choice will be a favorite with your tables and warm tones.

Gladiator 101

The GLADIATOR Collection

One of our most popular collections, the GLADIATOR line is sure to please in your rustic restaurant or bar. Contrast against your warm tones with the 101 GLADIATOR style in a clear coat finish. This type of finish accentuates the crafted weld markings. Be sure to add a reclaimed seat to your chairs and bar stools for the perfect mix of rustic and industrial.

Let us know in the comments below if your restaurant uses a rustic design or if you’re ready to take the leap and give this trend a try.

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