Sunday, November 18, 2012

How critical are the Interiors for a Restaurant?

Most people would agree that it is reasonably important. My assessment is that it is actually very critical – much more critical than you can imagine. Again the exact look and feel would vary depending on your concept and your price-point. The trouble with interiors is that getting a great look is very difficult and is not really dependent on the amount of money you spend. 

As an analogy, I have seen several of my friends buying an apartment for 50-60 lakhs, paying about 5-8 lakhs additional towards VAT, Service Tax, Registration, Khata etc. But most of them spend as little as possible on the interiors (say 3-4 lakhs). I have a complete contra view on this. My recommendation would be that you spend a large amount of money on interiors, because that will determine your quality of life in the house you buy. If your overall budget is 60 lakhs, you should spend about 20% of the budget (about 12 lakhs) on the interiors.

On the same note, when you are starting a restaurant, be prepared to spend atleast a reasonable amount of money on the interiors. This is what your customers will see, use and end up making an assessment of your business on. Getting the right look, feel and ambience for a restaurant without spending a lot of money is not an easy task. You will need a good interior designer who can give you ideas after understanding your concept. A lot of times, I have noticed that interior designers opt for solutions that they are comfortable with and ones they have executed in the past. Eg. Most interior designers will push for a false ceiling with lights embedded into the false ceiling. While this gives a “No Nonsense” look to the restaurant, it reduces the height of your restaurant and may make the place look smaller. Creating a great look without doing false ceilings is tougher and the final outcome is a little bit of an unknown. Similarly, on the wall paneling. Most interior designers will push for a plywood based panel with laminate covering. It is possible to create a better effect with paint on the wall – again this is tougher, the final outcome may be an unknown and getting access to the right labour may be difficult for the interior designer. If you go and see a few places that the interior designer has done already, you will notice that most of them will follow a similar pattern. Eg. One interior designer may use glass extensively, another may use laminate based panelling extensively. In my experience, pushing a interior designer out of his/her comfort zone is not easy. Whatever ideas you talk about, the final design will boil down to something that they are comfortable doing.

So to find a good interior designer who will deliver what you are expecting, you will need to go and take a look at few of the interior works the designer has completed recently. If the theme fits what you have in mind, sign up the designer.  

There are several components that are part of the Restaurant Interiors. I will use the use the next several posts to detail out each of the components:

1) Furniture - Tables & Chairs
2) Lighting Works
3) Restaurant Entry Area
4) Walls & Ceilings
5) Flooring
6) Operations Related Stuff - Cash Counter, Hostess, Waiting Area, Side Stations etc.
7) Air Conditioning
8) Kitchen Entry Area
9) Blinds/Curtains
10) Painting Works
11) Rest Room & Wash Area