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signifi cant investment of time, money and effort in the creation of a strong brand is expected among large chains of restaurants, but it should also be a priority for small chains or even single units. Along with the menu and the quality of the food it is the brand – those identifi able features that create a relationship with customers – that make a restaurant stand out. Small details give strength to a brand

and in a restaurant this can mean a colour scheme, customised furniture, lighting, décor, art and the choice of fi nishes on walls, ceilings, fl oors and surfaces. Fixtures and fi ttings go a long way towards defi ning a restaurant’s identity. “All of the things that make a restaurant better, special and different should be thought through to the nth degree,” says William H Bender FCSI, founder and principal of WH Bender & Associates. “They often get missed, especially in independent restaurants, and may get jury-rigged afterwards when they come in as an afterthought. Opportunities for marketing may be lost because something as simple as a misplaced water feature or piece of art affects sightlines. “Everything must have the guest area as a focal point to optimise a person’s time in the restaurant – the design, the branding, the marketing messages – everything must be integrated as it is all taken in by the guest. The lights, the colours, the art, the fi xtures and the furniture go together to compile the brand experience,” he adds.

The small details of interior design can help to reinforce a consistent identity that carries a lot of weight not only with customers, but also with staff. The look and feel of a dining space sets the tone for customer interaction and makes a strong statement about the kind of experience that the brand is trying to create. “You cannot forget the team

experience. The team conveys the brand so they must be proud of it, which means

“Lighting accentuates or softens details in a space. By playing with it, you can create a

unique atmosphere” Ton Tabbers

having the right equipment and the right look and feel,” adds Bender. “Each project has unique parameters and sometimes that means starting from scratch. At other times it means using some of what you already have. I worked on a country club in California that was updated after 30 years and while we put in new fi xtures and improved the lighting we also renovated the surfaces in the dining room to give the feel of reused vintage wood.”

Seeing the light

Bender is a management advisory services (MAS) consultant and his focus is on seeking out opportunities to reinforce branding. He presents the online series Rock My Restaurant with colleague Eric Norman FCSI, whose emphasis is on the functional side of design. While Norman

looks at design issues such as cleanability and durability for aspects such as fl oor coverings and work surfaces, Bender aims to ensure that design choices also help to create a strong brand identity. As part of the Rock My Restaurant

series, Bender and Norman provide restaurant operators with many insights into how to create strong branding messages and ensure that interior design helps to create a dining environment that matches the choice of menu and attracts the right customer segments. It demands a look at surfaces, fl ooring, ceilings, art, bespoke fi ttings and lighting, among many other things. Lighting is an example of a single element that can have a huge impact on branding and customer experience. Lighting suppliers understand the importance of their solutions in the restaurant sector and constantly come up with new ideas that provide operators with greater fl exibility and control. Ton Tabbers at Netherlands-based Hazenkamp Furnitures says: “Lighting is an important part of the interior. As daylight disappears, lighting determines the atmosphere. Lighting accentuates or

Standard fl oor lamps often make a traditional statement about mood


Overhead lighting can off er a soft mood as well as focus

Strong, directional lighting puts the spotlight on specifi c areas


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