Top 5 Trends in Restaurant Design

Dining out has always been an American staple – a special weekly occasion for family and friends to eagerly look forward to and this trend is only growing stronger into the 21st century. Last year, Americans spent more money on dining than on groceries for the first time. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, restaurants and bars raised revenues of $157.5 billion compared to $151.8 billion on groceries. This alteration has had an essential influence on the design and construction industry. Restaurants have even become crucial for the success of brick-and-mortar retail leading to the growth of lifestyle centers.

Lifestyle centers are defined by the International Council of Shopping Centers as “a specialized centre of upscale national-chain specialty stores with dining and entertainment in an outdoor setting.” They were the first retail development model to relate dining experiences as an attraction for shopping. As the new “foodie” generation of Millennials emphasizes restaurant experiences, restaurants have become critical to the prosperity of the 445 lifestyle centers all over the U.S. They bring a new energy that retail cannot and hold a newfound significance in customers’ lives.


  1. Lifestyle center developers push their restaurateur tenants to construct a vivid experience to attract consumers to retail stores.Lifestyle centers aim to create beautiful and attractive neighborhoods for customers to walk around and enjoy. Developers aim to design a very specific, eclectic, and sentimental architectural style. They are typically very strict about maintaining the aesthetic of a neighborhood but are open to new venues. In fact, when it comes to restaurants, developers prefer that they stand out and catch the eye and are therefore more flexible when it comes to interior design frameworks. These changes are made because developers belief restaurants will attract shoppers to their center. This deviation makes the area seem more authentic and unique.
  2. Owners and chefs are more involved in design Customer expectations are at an all time high leading chefs and owners to get more involved in the designing process. Many feel that if they don’t have direct involvement in the design of the restaurant it’s not really theirs. Owners sometimes require several meetings over materials and layout. However, the involvement of owners and chefs can pose itself as a sort of double-edged sword for building teams. On one hand, experienced owners know their targeted customers and can provide vital input and chefs with a vision is also a bonus. Although, they can focus too much on materials, finishes, and colors and not look further towards adapting design and branding for varied demographics and markets. Their vision, while sometimes unclear, can also occasionally outdistance their budget
  3. A democratized market does not require degrading qualityChefs are spreading their brands down market to meet the growing number of Americans who dine out. This rise in demand has led to food becoming “democratized” because a lot of patrons simply can’t afford high-end restaurants. However, this doesn’t mean that targeting a larger consumer base means sacrificing the quality. When it comes to design, don’t neglect the dining experience, don’t assume that the cuisine can replace the ambiance, and don’t focus on a certain model based off another template and dare to be different.
  4. Technology enhances diningRestaurant developers/owners and their building teams depend on technology more and more to create new dining experiences. For example, lighting has become far more crucial today as it tends to set the mood and atmosphere. New technologies have been developed to allow staff to adapt LED lamps via a touchpad to adjust lighting for different times of day. Technologies for sound transmission have also allowed clients to satisfy their design specifications while preventing patrons from hearing one another’s conversations using new materials.
  5. Artwork elevates the experience while dining has been democratized to cater to the large majority of consumers, quality is still important as people wish to be wowed when they eat out. To achieve this, restaurateurs include more and more art in their venues to satisfy their patrons and enhance the atmosphere. This method also particularly attracts Millennials. Owners have taken various methods for interior design from hiring local or well-known artists to gathering memorabilia. Overall, the effect of artwork brightens and emboldens the ambiance of the restaurant.