May 29 2014 – Robert Fiumara
Operating or managing a restaurant can be incredibly demanding and time consuming. All of us struggle daily to provide the highest quality service we can in our field, but what can we do that will have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction? Sure, focusing on the quality of the meals you cook and the service you provide is central, but what if something much more passive could significantly impact the overall satisfaction of your guest? That’s where atmosphere comes into play!
Atmosphere Is Important
A restaurant’s atmosphere sets the stage for the meal experience, and can often impact a customer’s perception of their meal as significantly as the meal itself. Music, lighting, artwork, furniture style, and table spacing are all hugely important to consider in crafting your restaurant experience. Lighting, seating, comfort; all of it has to be consistent throughout the restaurant so that every patron’s experience is consistent and similar no matter how busy your restaurant gets.
Seating for example is an oft overlooked and underappreciated factor in the creation of atmosphere. Large tables should be placed far away from smaller ones, or else you risk having the smaller tables overpowered by the larger, and their dining experience would likely be negatively impacted as a result. Lighting needs to refrain from being too harsh or overbearing, but needs to fit the look and feel of your restaurant. Art needs to be inviting and enticing, without being overly campy or cheesy, unless of course that’s the look you’re going for.
But So Is The Staff That Maintains It.
Atmosphere, however, is only as important as the staff that maintains it. Atmosphere starts with the guests and the clinking of cutlery and glass, and that in turn is wholly dependent on the attitude and performance of your staff. A one size fits all approach to customer service does not help any restaurant cultivate their atmosphere appropriately. Staff should be coached and encouraged to give every single customer a more personal approach, feeling out the attitudes and behaviors of the groups they happen to serve. Each table is a different set of people, who will have different needs and should be treated as such.
Ultimately atmosphere, like service, needs to feel comfortable, natural, and organic. It cannot be forced, but it must be attained. A careful eye for your customer base and their demands is vital to the success of your business!