Designing Your Food Establishment


Restaurant design is more than branding and a sign; diners are looking for an authentic dining experience.  To provide such an experience, clarity surrounding your brand and desired atmosphere is a must.  Creating the right experience includes the coordination of architectural design, menu selections, menu layout, marketing, and operations. As an architectural firm, we work with you to deliver the physical design and environment that tells your eatery’s story.  For our discussion example let’s say you are opening a café that is coffee centric, sustainability conscious, and has roots in the French culture.

The Core of the Establishment:

  • The core value of the business should be clear, and repeatedly emphasized so it is recognized by the customer.
  • Often the core is the product provided. For our example the coffee beans would be the core.
  • Try to reiterate the core to consumers through each of the senses.

-Taste: the exceptionalism of the coffee itself

-Sight: Brown hues in the space for the beans and off whites for the foam of drinks.

-Smell: the aroma of freshly ground beans

-Sound: Crushing of beans, the foaming of milk, music to sit and relax by.

-Touch: Warmth, bean resin, coffee grounds

Sustainability Conscious:

      • I have recently traveled to another state that enforces much more detailed recycling guidelines than where I reside. It felt a bit foreign to me, but afterwards I became appreciative of the efforts.  Try to instill this feeling to customers during their time at your establishment by asking them to separate all the items needed to consume your product.
      • If recycling is not the route you would like to convey, look for alternate functional wares. Use cardboard or paper instead or plastic.  Offer in-house ware only.  Suggest reoccurring customers to being their own travel mugs to be filled.
      • Upcycling is a great sustainable practice. Reusing old types of furniture can give life to something old and provide a unique eclectic experience.  If you have a target consumer, say baby boomers.  Reuse wooden desks as table seating that they can relate to from their past.

Roots from a French Culture:

        • If you want the experience to feel like a café in France, provide that. Include outdoor café seating that everyone thinks of when they think of France and cafes.
        • If the French make something slightly different than other cultures offer or are trained in, make it how they would so when someone orders it the taste and technique is accurate to the core of your establishment.
        • If a French café provides something to their consumers with every order (like a mint or cookie) provide one as well.

There are many layers of design to make a business operate successful, and the core of the establishment is always in the forefront of a customer’s experience.  JL Architects has been designing and working alongside restaurant owners for 30 years and can help these design layers equal success. Reach out to see how we can help.

-Nate Houser, Restaurant Designer