branding agency owner amy dennis
Written by Amy Dennis
CEO | Creative Director

Restaurant Interior Design & Why It’s So Important

Believe it or not, every meticulous detail in a restaurant interior design has been carefully crafted to influence the customer through a direct connection at some point in the customer journey. This is not done only through the taste of the food, the general graphic design, or the human interaction.

No, instead, the environmental design of the restaurant, or the restaurant interior design, when done correctly, can have a BIG impact on turning guests into instant brand ambassadors. And that, folks, is exactly why you must consider every square foot of real estate when working on restaurant interior design.

Within each restaurant’s interior are many factors to consider that go beyond the logo on the entry door, the wayfinding signs that direct the customer to the restroom or the placement of the menu boards. Each and every customer touchpoint should be considered through the lens of the overall brand perspective, in an effort to make the “ultimate” connection with the guest.

Here’s a breakdown of a few restaurant interior design elements that we at Nice Branding Agency find important to consider when working on the interior design of a restaurant.

Restaurant Interior Design: Exterior

It’s a no brainer to understand that your exterior is the first thing that people see and could be one of the main deciding factors of whether a potential drive-by actually opens your door. It’s also a well-known fact that the exterior is one of the elements that is most often out of the control of the restaurant owner or restaurant operator, due to landlords and city regulations.

With that laid out on the table, our best advice here is get out of your own way.

You’ve got to make the exterior of your restaurant stand out in one way or another. These days, your competition is typically within viewing distance. We know — it makes our stomachs hurt, too. However, it’s not terribly difficult to make your restaurant exterior more enticing than your neighbor’s.

Restaurant Interior DesignImage Source: Woodshed Smokehouse

Out-of-the-box thinking with signage is your best place to start. Don’t just concede to what everyone else in your plaza is doing. If you can, make your sign unique and make sure that it aligns well with your overall brand image.

Restaurant Interior DesignImage Source: Alfredo’s Pizzeria

We get it, you’re up against this or that, but there’s no harm in asking what you can do. Nine times out of 10, if you present something visually attractive, you’re going to get the approval you are hoping for. But don’t anticipate to go down without a fight!

Restaurant Interior DesignImage Source: Southland Whiskey Kitchen

Also, don’t let the sign company design your logo. Just don’t — or you will get just that — a design of your name that has been sold to you as a logo. A logo is only as good as the brand that has its back, and the sign company typically only considers the logo portion of the brand.

On the contrary, you’re going to need a brand that connects with your target customer that is fully weaved throughout your restaurant interior design to compete in the marketplace. Go to a reputable branding agency that focuses on restaurant branding. They will be able to create a brand that connects with your customer, carefully weaving the brand throughout the restaurant interior design.

If you can’t get your exterior sign approved because you didn’t request channel lit letters, don’t give up. There are other things you can do to make your restaurant space stand out. Think about paint color, large-scale painted letters or design, a selfie wall, patio design and door or window design.

The opportunities aren’t endless, but finding one outlet outside that will allow you to differentiate yourself and illustrate your brand is an important factor in connecting with potential customers and guests.

Restaurant Interior Design: Colors

Colors are more influential than most care to believe — or consider. One pitfall that restaurants can run into is that they develop their interior before actually considering their brand which should address their overall color scheme.

For example, a restaurant may start out with a sign company to get their exterior sign design. They don’t have a logo or a color scheme for their brand, and that is left in the hands of a sign designer. From there, they think they must start the interior design of the space immediately in order to get the restaurant ready for the opening date. So they just begin to work with a contractor or consult Pinterest to get the ball rolling.

From there, they begin to consider menu development. The menu development typically sets the overall “design” for the restaurant that is then carried forth throughout multiple elements.

Ya’ll. There’s a better way to do this. Branding should be the first thing you consider when opening a restaurant. That’ll lead the way through all the other elements — one of the most being brand color selection. If a restaurant begins their journey with a branding agency, the three major items noted above can be skillfully intertwined to impact the customer immediately upon engagement with the restaurant.

Restaurant Interior DesignImage Source: Don Chido

The starting point would be the brand identity, which would carefully consider the senses, the genre of the food, the positioning of the brand and the target market. Then a logo would be built, supported by a color scheme and visual direction. The chosen colors would dictate the graphic design elements and both would be skillfully placed throughout the restaurant’s interior design to create an experience that is unforgettable and worth mentioning to friends.

No single ingredient of the branding recipe can be left out, nor can the recipe be ignored, or the result may turn out like that cake you just left the eggs out of.

The colors play a large part in the overall impact between the relationship of the brand and the guest. Colors speak loudly, but they can speak even louder when they are placed well and coordinated correctly.

Take a moment to peek at our guide to choosing brand colors that our graphic design firm in Nashville put together.

Additionally, here’s an article that speaks directly to color psychology and the feelings each color evokes within a restaurant’s interior design.

Restaurant Interior Design: Graphic Design

We all know that good graphic design is important, but within the walls of a restaurant, it’s crucial to get the graphic design right.

We’re not talking about the fact that your menu should use graphic design to present your food offerings in an easily digestible manner, because we all know that, right?

Instead, we are talking about taking it a few steps further and allowing graphic design to be the tool used to bring your brand to the forefront of the restaurant interior design.

Restaurant Interior DesignImage Source: Dough

Consider all the space that you have to make an impact or a connection. The walls, the tables, the booths, the floor — and the list goes on. Get creative here, or better yet, hire a creative agency that is skilled in both graphic design and interior design. Their vision will take you further than using one firm or person for graphic design and another for interior design.

Add signage that aligns with the brand. Not only should the fonts all work in a complementary fashion, but even the style of signage should be considered. Once again, here’s where a branding agency can help you align various vendors needed to execute a restaurant’s interior as a whole, all while working under the parameters of the established restaurant brand.

Restaurant Interior Design

Image Source: Taqueria

The most important thing to remember regarding the graphic design of a restaurant is to keep it consistent. Hire a professional branding agency to make sure that the graphic design used in all elements of your restaurant are consistent and align with the established restaurant brand.

The difference could result in recurring guests — or not. Here’s our number: 615-905-9936

Restaurant Interior Design: Food Presentation

Yeah! This is the fun part, right? Let us warn you that it can get even better than your wildest dreams.

In that little plate of food that you call generous portions, there is a multitude of opportunities to carry forth your brand.

Serving buns? Why not literally brand them? Sandwiches held together with a toothpick? Your icon better be flying high on the end of that pick! Tray liner paper? Endless options to connect. Cups? Yes, here too. You get the idea.

Restaurant Interior Design

Source: Holler and Dash

As you can see, you just have to think outside the box a little. There are a number of different ways that your brand can pop into the customer’s head as they sink their teeth into whatever it is you are serving.

In this digital day and age, your food presentation could potentially be more important than your exterior restaurant sign. At the time this article was written, there were 120,339,900 pictures posted to Instagram with the hashtag #foodporn. You know you’ve seen it sitting at a restaurant. Those darn millennials, always snapping pictures of their food with their smartphones before they even take a bite. Yeah, this can totally work to your advantage. Get on the bandwagon and make sure that your food presentation is totally Instagrammable.

Restaurant Interior DesignSource: Communal Coffee

So, whether you’re a burger joint, a taco spot, a coffee shop or something else entirely, weaving restaurant branding through every customer touch point is not to be neglected. If you’re wondering where to start, it’s really super simple. Just pick up the phone and give our restaurant branding experts a call. Or shoot us an email. We would love to put together a restaurant branding package that’s customized to your unique needs.

Our packages include menu design, restaurant logo, restaurant interior design, food presentation, food photography, lighting and furniture selection, fixture selection, and more.

Restaurant Interior Design

Like we always say: You focus on the food, and we’ll get people to notice what you’re serving up!


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