I have an off-campus job with a local restaurant. It has a strong base of regulars, and is kind of a well-loved place. I was just promoted to assistant manager. That comes with a lot more responsibilities (especially since I have a full schedule of classes!). Part of that is just normal assistant manager stuff—running the staff, keeping track of supplies, manning the register—but the restaurant is also undergoing a renovation, so the owner has me involved in that as well. Mostly, we want to give the restaurant a facelift. Chipped tableware, torn booths, a décor that wouldn’t be out of place during the Reagan presidency—the interior needs an update, bad. What is a simple thing we can do to move the restaurant into this decade?
If you need to spruce up your restaurant, there are a ton of simple options. Obviously, you want to get the most bang for your buck. Barring a full renovation, the type that costs tens of thousands of dollars and so often seems to involve turning neighborhood joints into outposts of Williamsburg, what can you do to update your well-loved dining establishment?
The one of the easiest and quickest ways to update your restaurant’s feel is to update the table settings and decor. This includes crockery and cutlery, as well as tablecloths, napkins, and menus. Here, a company like VEGA Direct could help you. Their dinnerware ranges from classic porcelain designs to hip slate serving platters to Seussian cocktail glasses, all of which send a distinct message to your diners. A customer will see chipped, plain plates and splotchy forks and think… “meh.” You set the mood by setting the table, and the less “meh,” the more memorable their dining experience will be.
Furthermore, love it or hate it, Instagramming one’s food has become integral to the way we eat. As one head chef said in this BBC article, “there is a growing number of people who will judge food based solely on a photo.” It has become more crucial than ever to make your food look good, and there is no denying that having a good-looking plate is part of that. Think of the plates as a frame for your customers’ portraits (which can be, admittedly, breathtaking). If the pictures they post of your provisions are pretty, you will get an invaluable advertising boost. Replacing your table settings is a simple replacement, and one that will pay off in dividends.
Finally, you should consider how the new blends with the old. Something simple like updating your color scheme (with new tablecloths and napkins to match) is a very easy way to make your space feel fresh. Adding new lighting fixtures, maybe with some fancy bulbs, can open up the space and banish those Reaganesque tones into the (proverbial) shadows. These are, again, easy fixes, that can be done for cheap without too much headache. But you should always approach these type of moves, even something as simple as a new color scheme, with an eye to what makes your restaurant special. If it has been there for 30 years, it is obviously doing something right! As this article from Eater points out, you need to appease regulars while catering to customers who might never have heard of you.
How do you do that right? Hold true to your mission, and choose your decor based on the taste that you currently have, rather than the one you think customers might want. All that Instagramming and Snapchatting is an attempt to document something authentic, an experience that is memorable and personal. It is why your choice for plates, cups, cutlery, napkins, and colors is more than a business question. Your hospitality is on display, and by staying true to yourself, everybody will want to take a seat at your table.