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How Design Impacts Taste and Increases Appetite

We all know how color and lighting can affect one’s mood. Walk into a restaurant filled with soft blues, violets and gentle shades of green with subtle corner lighting and you’ll find yourself settling into an inner space of tranquility. But is this the type of environment that leads to increased sales? Let’s take a look at the impact of restaurant design and what design details the experts suggest will lead to an increase in appetite.


Rochester Institute of Technology conducted a study in order to determine “the importance of specific interior design factors in restaurants and the effect of these factors on customer behavior.” One of the areas they addressed was color. Color is strongly connected to our emotions. Blues have a calming effect but have also been shown to decrease appetite. Hues at this end of the color spectrum can still work if your looking to create a relaxing spa-like ambiance or a gathering place with a bohemian flair.

Red and yellows, on the other hand, have been shown to increase appetite and produce quicker turnarounds, and, for this reason, are popular colors in the fast food industry. Green tones remind us of nature and are a common go-to for natural health food stores or for restaurants that wish to create a relaxed atmosphere that encourages a longer stay.


One study concluded that brighter lights may decrease a diner’s length of stay while another suggested that dining in dimly lit restaurants corresponds with eating slower and still another suggests that soft lighting leads to overindulging—a plus for you, the restauranteur. If possible, natural light—the brilliant light of the sun shining through your restaurant windows and skylights—may be one of your best options.

Natural light brings benefit to both our physical and mental well-being, and a customer enjoying a ray of sun while consuming your delectable food will remember the occasion, tell their friends, and possibly stay for another glass of wine and choice dessert. Another way to create warmth in your restaurant is through the use of candles, a fireplace, or an open concept kitchen.


According to Daosser Chennoufi, founder and CEO of Draw Link Group, an international interior design consulting group specializing in commercial and hospitality projects, the choice of furniture plays a vital part in influencing a customer’s appetite. They find that most restaurant guests prefer softer and taller furniture. Making sure your guests are comfortable puts them in a space of relaxing and enjoying their meal from the first bite of your bison slider to the last bite of your warm ruby-chocolate pudding cake.

And while we’re on the topic of space—make sure that your customers have enough to allow for intimacy while not too much to produce a feeling of being in the spotlight.

Of course, we all know those restaurants that focus on high-turnover by placing tables near the kitchen doors or grouping them in the center of the room. For those few and usually fast food establishments that are not looking for return and long-term guests, this technique is certainly an option.

Background Noise

Many restaurants play background music in an attempt to create a specific ambiance and feeling within their guests. One technique is playing loud, fast-tempo music that prompts diners to eat more quickly thereby creating those profit-making open tables. On the other hand, according to Psychology Today, this type of background music has been shown to diminish one’s appetite. For this reason, you’ll notice many restaurants leaning toward soft, instrumental music or, in some cases, silence.

According to a survey conducted by Heartbeats International, 44 percent of participants said the wrong music would make them leave an establishment. Classical music, on the other hand, showed an increase in the sale of alcohol—very good for the bottom line. What do the experts recommend? Make sure the music is soft enough for your patrons to carry on a conversation and in sync with your restaurants brand and theme.

It’s clear that whatever your choice in lighting, color, and theme, considering their effect on your patron’s psyche will help create both your brand and profitability.

Read my previous article on Successful and Innovate Restaurant Designs to learn more about restaurant design and concepts are the bottom-line to success.


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