5 Tips for Casual Restaurant Interior Design

Chris Rumpf

Founder and CEO, 15+ Years of Restaurant Technology Innovation

5 Tips for Casual Restaurant Interior Design

Casual-style restaurants are on the rise. And it’s a good thing! There’s always a time and place for a fancy, sit-down, full-service meal, but the reality is that most of the time people don’t want to dress to the nines when we go out to eat. Luckily, whether you’re designing the concept for your new restaurant or “dressing down” your current one, it’s easy to create a casual environment for your customers to enjoy. Check out these 5 tips for casual restaurant interior design; making your restaurant welcoming, warm, and posh-free.

1. Opt out of linens when designing your casual restaurant.

Nothing screams “fancy” louder than white table linens complete with fan-folded napkins. If casual is what you’re looking for, opt for bare tables, placemats, or even colorful tablecloths beneath easy-to-clean glass. The simpler look will make your customers feel at ease, and your laundry pile won’t look so daunting at the end of the week.

2. Consider limited service options.

Depending on the style, layout, and flow of your restaurant floor and kitchen, consider limited service options. A full-service restaurant will typically have hosts, waiters, bussers, and maybe even food runners, but a more limited approach to service creates a more relaxed environment. A concept where guests seat themselves, take a number, retrieve their own food, or pay at a cashier offers an experience that lends itself to customers who are on-the-go and don’t want the full sit-down experience. You’ll also be able to cut down on labor costs because you won’t need so many front-of-the-house staff.

3. Take your servingware down a notch.

What type of plate and silverware are you considering? There are plenty of casual restaurants that offer real silverware and reusable plates, but others have chosen the disposable route. With disposable serving ware, the customer can supply themselves with what they need at a station, or it can be provided for them at the table or register. They can also toss everything on the way out, thus eliminating the need for servers and bussers. For this one, it really depends on how casual you want to go and if your kitchen can handle the faster quantity of orders that would come in due to faster service times. You should also calculate the cost of disposables, and compare it to the one-time cost of a reusable set and the ongoing cost of a dishwasher, increased water bill, and additional staff.

4. Play some tunes.

If casual is what you’re looking for, then you obviously won’t need a pianist in the corner or soft classical music playing in the background. Pick a playlist that aligns with your restaurant’s theme and keeps the mood light. Be clear about who your customers are and what they like. Are you serving families who stop by on their way home from soccer practice? A vegan couple on a date on a Friday night? Trendy hipsters meeting with friends for some bar food and beer? Know your desired audience and set the tune – I mean tone – accordingly.

5. Create a casual vibe for your restaurant.

To create an environment, you can’t just “set it and forget it.” It’s not enough to come up with some fabulous restaurant design ideas, set the dining room and put a system in place. You must now breathe life into your restaurant and give it a heart. To last through the excitement of your grand opening and be felt by your guests for years to come, your vibe – your environment – must be a part of your company’s culture. Your staff must understand your vision, expectations, and be completely on-board. Train your staff on how to communicate with customers and coworkers so they can contribute daily to the restaurant’s culture.

Luckily, using restaurant interior design principals to create a casual environment in your restaurant doesn’t have to break the bank. Small adjustments that remain true to your brand can make a huge difference in your restaurant’s vibe. Implement any (or all!) of these helpful tips and see how your restaurant’s environment evolves.