Everything You Need to Know About Restaurant Interior Design

Setting up a restaurant, coffee shop or bar? Here’s the low-down on restaurant interior design for independent owners.

Aside from the food or drinks you serve, we think the most important aspect of a restaurant or bar is the interior design. Get this right and you are well on your way to making a success out of your venture. There’s a kind of magic involved: an alchemy of finding the right space, a meticulous design, top quality food or drink, and the right customers.

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Without an appealing space that works for your business, it’s far harder to create a buzzy atmosphere, to attract new customers, to get people talking about your venue and to show off your food in the best possible way. We can all think of times when we’ve had a meal and the lighting was all wrong, or the place was too noisy, or there wasn’t enough space to comfortably move around. This is where professional help can be invaluable. These are crucial elements that an interior designer will help you consider and avoid making those mistakes. They know how to really look at a space, to see what needs to be changed and what can be worked with and enhanced.

And it’s not just the visible aspects of a design – layout, lighting, furniture, flow around the space, access – that can affect a project’s success. There are many less obvious (and, frankly, less interesting) things that are nevertheless crucial to consider. Restaurant interiors are some of the most involved spaces to fit out. The services are demanding, with plumbing and mechanical ventilation requirements that can be costly to fit and commission.

We would advise you not to go it alone. Getting professional help with the design and build of your interior can save you money and a whole lot of stress. You will have enough to juggle with all the issues facing any start-up, and you don’t want your hard work to come undone because you didn’t get the interior right. Appointing an interior designer is an investment in your business, and in yourself, freeing you up to deal with other things.

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It is important to work with an experienced restaurant interior designer who understands the practical issues involved with a fit-out or refurbishment. Here are some of the nitty-gritty things we at Engaging Interiors look out for:

Electrical loadings and supply – Restaurants can be demanding when it comes to power. It is important to allow for any upgrade in electrical or gas supply if required.

Water Supply / Pressure – Some kitchen and bar equipment requires a minimum water pressure, so there must be an adequate supply. This issue can arise when trying to convert an A1 shop into an A3 venue.

Change of Use – Getting change of use to A3 can be tricky. It will depend on how many restaurants there are in the area, and how residential the immediate area.

Drainage – Adequate drainage is one of the first things we look for. Drainage pipes can be run nearly horizontally (1 in 40), but if the site has a concrete floor and there is no room for the boxing out to run the soil pipe, you may have to pump the waste. Pumps are more reliable than they used to be but are still best avoided if possible.

Air conditioning – It is best practice, though not a requirement, to have air conditioning in the front-of-house area of a restaurant. Cassette units can be anywhere from 300mm deep, and will need plumbing that is routed to a condensing unit on the exterior of the building. You can also use a ducted system. These take up more space but do a better job as they are less concentrated in particular areas.

Although an experienced restaurant interior designer will give you the basic outline of any of these practicalities, it will take specialist consultants and engineers to fill in the details. With good advice and armed with plenty of knowledge you can approach contractors from an informed position, and stay on top of a build.

So, the take away from all this? With the right help you can give your restaurant or bar the best possible chance of success, happy in the knowledge that every detail of the space has been meticulously planned and considered as you launch it into the big wide world.

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