According to Askinglot.com, a modern restaurant is casual dining combined with fine dining. What in the world does that mean? A modern restaurant takes inspiration from all types of dining to create a memorable dining experience. So modern restaurant design is similarly memorable and expressive.
We’ve outlined 15 modern restaurant design ideas that will help you to build an attractive layout. This is key to creating a pleasant atmosphere; people will come for your food but linger thanks to your ambiance.
In this article about modern restaurant design, we’ll walk you through
- Restaurant design elements to add to your restaurant interior
- Best practices to convey your restaurant branding through design
- Examples of real restaurants using eye-catching modern designs
Restaurant Floor Plan Templates
Use these restaurant floor plan templates to get inspired as you map, or reimagine, the layout and space setup for your restaurant.
15 Modern Restaurant Design Ideas
1. Make An Entrance (Literally)
Consider what a customer sees as they walk into your restaurant. Some ideas to make a great first impression are
- Lighting up the walkway
- Placing a fountain or sculpture in the entrance
- Making sure your restaurant name is viewable from the street
- Giving the entrance a centralized view of the entire restaurant
El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley, Arizona makes a real impact with outdoor garden design. Don’t forget that Phoenix has the luxury of being sunny 299 days a year! The restaurant uses plants, a fountain, twinkle lights, and a terracotta and white color scheme to immediately impress their restaurant guests.
2. Convery Your Concept With Color
There’s psychological data that backs up the importance of color choice. Color impression is associated with 80% of brand recognition. Neutral colors are perceived as more welcoming, and white and silver make people think of perfection. Depending on what feel and aesthetic you’re going for, do some research before getting out the paint buckets.
Bar Shuka uses a variety of contrasting colors to create a vibrant environment.
3. Use Sustainable Design Elements
In a 2020 report by Firstsight, it was found that 73% of Generation Z consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Clearly, younger generations care about sustainable design. Consider using:
- Recycled furniture
- Natural materials such as wood or bamboo
- Locally bought pieces
- Items from retailers who are ethically responsible
At Restrelae in Denmark, both the menu and its restaurant design are sustainable. The tables are zero-waste and made from local trees, and their chairs are recycled.
4. Express a Modernist Aesthetic Throughout Your Bar
Modern restaurants build their bars with sleek designs in mind. Smooth marble bar tops, unique lighting, and metal shelving can help modernize your look.
It doesn’t get more modern than The Modern Restaurant, located in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It boasts a marble bar top surrounded by silver bar seats and shelves.
5. Add the Right Amount of Art
Beyond what art you choose, it’s important to consider how much art you need. A minimalist aesthetic is a popular attribute of modern design. Sometimes less is more. Statement art, or choosing just a few bold art pieces, speaks volumes. Just make sure your art matches your restaurant concept.
Eden-Botanic Kitchen & Bubbly has an exotic restaurant concept that’s clearly conveyed through its floral art and murals.
6. Include Something Unique
If you incorporate something out of the ordinary in your design, it will draw people in to come to see it. Maybe you have an unusual art piece, or a drink that lights on fire. Guests love to take pictures of one-of-a-kind experiences and post them on social media.
Fiii Fun House in Buenos Aires uses swings instead of chairs or booths. Its concept is kid-like fun, that keeps guests feeling young.
7. Furnish Fabulously
If you run a Pinterest search on “modern restaurant design”, you’ll see lots of high bar seats, low to the floor table chairs with rounded backs, and a variety of different materials. Of course, your goal is to find furniture that echoes the aesthetic of your restaurant. So if your aesthetic is “modern minimalism,” you’re probably going for sharp, clean edges and metallic materials.
The Atlanta restaurant, St. Cecilia, uses rounded, cushioned booths to set a sophisticated tone.
8. Mismatch Materials
The use of different materials and textures in your interior design is a simple yet effective way to decorate. For example, the contrast of woodwork and metal is decor in itself, before you even finalize a room’s look. Some material combinations to consider are:
- Glass next to different textures
- Wood with dark or neutral-colored walls
- Metal (different metal hues) with wood
- Ceramic with fabrics
- Cloth against wood or glass
Another pro tip is to mix patterns. Not everything has to match!
Hinoki & the Bird decorates their travel-inspired restaurant with a mixture of wood and glass. Their large bare windows mesh well with their wooden ceilings.
9. Enter the World of Windows
Writer Mavis Gallant once said that "A short story is what you see when you look out of the window." In a restaurant’s case, maybe it’s when you look in! Windows can be seen from both the interior and exterior. They provide natural light and a sneak peek of your amazing space. Your windows can help differentiate you from your competitors on a busy street, so consider these options:
- Fixed windows: Large, centered windows that are best used if your restaurant has a scenic view.
- Window signage: Add your restaurant name, hours, or details onto your windows in vinyl, graphic, or hand-painted print to add some context to your restaurant.
- Casement windows. These have the ability to open, making them a great option in places with nice weather.
- Classic awnings: More for the exterior, these add a stylish element when used over pairs of windows.
The Eiffel Tower Restaurant in Las Vegas provides quite a view with these large windows.
10. Take Advantage of Your Ceilings
Your ceiling can add to your interior design with hanging decor such as lights, plants, and art pieces.
Biutiful does an exceptional job of utilizing its ceiling to add to its interior design. How cool is this place?!
11. Make A Statement
The restaurant industry is incredibly saturated. But you can still stand out.
The statement wall at Trust Restaurant in San Diego is definitely unique and very Instagram-worthy.
12. Create a Gallery Wall
Covering a wall with different types of art and photos provides an awesome background. And the most perfect gallery walls are incredibly imperfect. Try to utilize frames and pieces of all different shapes, sizes, and textures.
Pink Cabana Restaurant, located in the Sands Hotel & Spa, added a gallery wall over busy wallpaper for a real decorative statement.
13. Make Your Kitchen Visible
A visible, well-kept kitchen is not only easy on the eyes, it excites guests to watch their meal being made in front of them.
Alden & Harlow cooks up some delicious American food in Cambridge, MA in an open, brightly-lit kitchen.
14. Don't Forget About Your Restrooms
Mirror selfies have become a massive trend on Instagram and other social media. Thanks to the location sticker feature, guests can market your restaurant for you by posting bathroom mirror selfies in your restaurant. This is kind of strange, I know.
Backyard Betty’s bathroom fits its rustic aesthetic perfectly with its choices in lighting, sinks, and floor.
15. Use Your Surroundings
Where is your restaurant located? What kind of people are frequenting it? If you’re located in a major city, why not take pride in that? Showcase the area around you, because people who live there will proudly support a restaurant with a design that represents their home.
OMAR’S in NYC is a prime example of successful location-based design. The walls are plastered with abstract drawings of New Yorkers and the entire tone of the restaurant screams upscale NYC.
Keep 'em coming back for more
When creating your design plan, make sure you’re keeping your demographic and menu in mind. Your design is more than just a background. And there’s more to ambiance than just pretty lights. Design styles come and go, but the experience you give your guest will remain.
Related Design Resources
Restaurant Business Plan Template
No matter where you’re at in your restaurant ownership journey, a business plan will be your north star. Organize your vision and ensure that nothing is overlooked with this free template.
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