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Must-Know Tips for Lighting Up Your F&B Restaurant


Inadequate or improper lighting themes at restaurants can end up ruining your customer’s entire dining experience. Sounds like a far reach over a bunch of lights? Not at all!

A recent survey of over 1500 diners showed that 29% of them opted to walk out of a restaurant due to bad lighting and an outstanding 88% of those diners felt that the lighting played a strong impact on their experience.

An often-overlooked element of restaurant design is the impact of proper lighting on shaping your restaurant’s overall feel. Restaurant owners have to factor in several elements when designing their lighting aesthetic to create a dynamic space while also not compromising on functionality.

Suffice to say that lighting plays an integral role in shaping your restaurant and customer experience. Here’s your guide to some tips when it comes to that subject that you need to know.

Let’s get started!

Lighting In Layers

Aesthetics and functioning have to go hand in hand. One cannot compromise on the other or else it’ll all come tumbling down like a deck of cards. While it’s important for the lighting in your restaurant to adhere to a particular theme, managers and owners also need to take into account the fact that staff members are comfortable too.

There are many different lighting themes; industrial, ambient and accent to name a few. These themes are structured in a way that serves their function and looks good while doing so. By lighting in layers, we mean lighting in a way that each theme is used appropriately where it’s needed.

For example, ambient lighting can be used at reception and bar areas, accent lighting for wall art and tables. As per the customers, you would have to adjust the lighting in such a way that it does not over-do or undermine the table in itself. You need to focus your lighting on their food. However, this does not call for brighter lights at tables compare to other areas. Even though dim lights might give customers a hard time with reading menus.

Do Not Overlook Outside Lighting

Outside lighting can be equally as important as lighting within the building. The sun goes down eventually and you wouldn’t want to be referred to as the only restaurant in the area without proper outdoor seating.

Outdoor seating is quite often sought for and customers might even pick a place specifically for the seating over anything else. It’s the vibe that matters.

Accordingly, you would have to focus just as much as you did on the indoor lighting for outside fixtures. Lighting has to be such that it does not highlight the people sitting outside, but is also according to the sort of lighting that works with the environment.

For example; is there another source of lighting nearby? Would it equate to using fewer lights? Should your outdoor lights be of a different color?

Lighting As Per Occasion

Your establishment can be solely breakfast based, more of a diner or have great reviews in the paper – your lighting has to be adjusted accordingly.

Lighting as per your timings and the seasons gives customers a homey vibe that they can feel comfortable in. It’s important that your lighting suits the time of day you operate in. Would you want a candlelight breakfast? Or, a well-lit dinner date?

Here’s a helpful tip: consider the sort of customer that frequent your establishment. If you run a restaurant known for its pancakes, you would have people coming in earlier in the day with newspapers. Hence, your best bet is to go with brighter lights. Similarly, if you have more couples coming in, you would want to set the mood a lot more intimate.

You can also change the lighting throughout the day if you operate that way, or per seasons!

Focus On The Food

The right lighting can make the food look ten times more appealing. Don’t believe it? Try serving one of your regulars the same meal in bad lighting. You’ll notice them hesitate while taking a bite even though they’ve had this meal hundreds of times before.

This is an illusion of sorts. The right light can make the meal look a lot more appetizing than bad lighting. It all comes down to taste. However, first impressions matter and for that, you have to work on your lighting situation to give customers the best experience possible.

The goal here is to accentuate and not trick. If you use brighter lights than normal, your food can end up looking a lot more vivid than it is. The visual impression of the dish would therefore not live up to its actual potential.

Lighting Different Areas Specifically

Different areas at your restaurant need different levels of lighting based upon what’s going on there. The tables have to be bright enough for customers to interact with one another, read the menu and not compromise on their private space. The answer? Diffused lighting at tables. This provides adequate lighting to allow them to feel functional and efficient.

Many establishments have open or visible kitchens to give their diners a more comfortable experience. Go over to a sushi bar and part of the entire experience there is seeing the chef prepare the sushi. Food is an art form and art has to come under the spotlight. Hence, if you have an open workstation for customers to enjoy, go for track lighting to create a spotlight effect.


At this point, it’s pretty evident that the sort of lighting you opt for holds a drastic impact on the sort of experience your customers end up having. However, many restaurant designers and owners overlook this significant impact in place of other things.

Just picture this: You’re at a restaurant with great food, but bad lighting – would that be an experience you would want to revisit when there are other options available?