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.


Shopping Center Design 101


Shopping Centers require careful detailed planning in the design phase to maximize space usage, create an attractive environment for customers, and achieve optimal return on your investment with maximized future growth. Attention to certain crucial matters, and decisions made early, increase potential for success.

  1. Location is Key:  When selecting the site for your shopping center, there are specific criteria to include in your search.  Customers want “easy”; easy access, preferably off a main road or intersection, easy parking, easy entry and exit, and easy navigation, meaning not too far from the city. Off-site road improvements may need to be addressed, such as widening of access streets, to alleviate existing traffic flows and avoid excessive congestion. A key factor in driveway design is the directional distribution of traffic entering and exiting.


  • Feasibility Study:  A feasibility study is based on detailed specific data and provides information including a market and location analysis, as well as a risk analysis. It is a vital analysis for the bank loan process and will provide you with a financial picture of your project. A schematic design must be done for analysis.




  • Master Plan:  An effective Master Plan designed efficiently can increase ROI substantially for investors. It shows the most efficient utilization of the property. It shows the proposed building footprint, the best route for traffic flow and appropriate dimensions to ensure city requirements are met to create the center with the utmost functionality.




  • Branding:   Customers are always looking for the new and exciting place to go, so make your exterior elevation appealing to the eye. Go after the retailers you want to occupy your center early in your process, so your retailers are ones that provide input on design.




  • Design Types:  Regardless of size or function, shopping centers have these need to have conceptual design that is utilizes the study of local demographics.



  • Contemporary– Is the architectural design of today. It utilizes the latest trends in all elements of design. The current trending architectural design is exterior metal cladding, mixed with stucco and stone. It utilize more steel than other exterior design types.
  • Modern– is the early- and mid-20th-century architecture embodying the ideals of the machine age: an absence of ornament, structures of steel or concrete, large expanses of glass, a whitewash (usually stucco over brick) or another minimal exterior expression, and open floor plans.
  • Traditional– Design of the past, In commercial retail design application the exterior finishes will be typically brick or stone.


Exterior Design Types Pictures







Contact Maxx Designers to provide its integrated architectural engineering services.


1. Do you have insurance (general liability coverage) and workers compensation insurance?

Again, the answer to both of these better be a yes. General liability insurance protects your home and property in the event of a disaster. Workers compensation protects you from liability if the carpenters get injured while working on your property. By the way, all of the sub-contractors working on our project should carry general liability and workers compensation insurance policies, too!
You can also be specific and ask for proof of insurance, the type of insurance the general contractor has and how much coverage they have (a $500,000 policy — minimum — is a good start). What happens if the firm has started construction on your new home but then it gets destroyed by a tornado? You want to be sure the GC’s general liability insurance will cover the cost to re-build.
2. Do you provide customers with written lien waivers?

Once the job is completed, you should receive a legal document from your contractor stating that you have paid him in full, and that he waives his right to place a mechanics lien on your property (this should include lien releases from sub-contractors, too).
3. Does the commercial builder offer design-build services? Or will you need to hire an architectural firm separately?

A company being able to offer design-build services can save substantial amount on cost and project delivery time of completion. You will be able to to hold one firm accountable instead of two firms pointing fingers at a time when issues arise during the construction phase.
4. How is your billing cycle set up? How often do you invoice customers during the project?

It’s common practice for a GC to ask for a down payment to begin work on your project (usually in the ballpark of 25 percent of the project’s estimated value). Reliable contractors should also have enough working capital to use in the event they have to make product purchases quickly on your behalf (a working capital of $50,000 is acceptable).
5. Do you handle the permitting process and inspection or do we have to coordinate that?

Your general contractor should handle this. Period. You are not responsible for pulling permits or dealing with the town’s building inspector.
6. Do you have a list of client references? Do you also have a list of subcontractors, vendors (material suppliers) and architects and designers that have partnered with you that I can call?

Past clients are the most appropriate people to talk to because they’ve already experienced what you are potentially about to undertake with this GC. Ask them very candid and specific questions. Ask about the quality of work, budget, timeliness, cleanliness, safety, level of professionalism and if their goals and expectations were met.
Also check businesses that partner with the GC! Make sure the contractor is in excellent standing with all of the subs they hire and vendors from which they purchase materials.
7. Have you done a project comparable to mine? What were the biggest challenges?

Experience and expertise really count in this field! No two custom projects are ever the same. What matters is whether or not the GC can handle complex issues, and if he has the competence to successfully complete your project or not. Ask about a specific concern you have and assess whether the GC’s response reassured you or caused further anxiety.
8. Who is on-site managing my project on a daily basis, and who is ultimately responsible for my job? ​

The superintendent is a key factor of a successful project completion. You need to obtain qualifications of the project manager and superintendent who will be overseeing day-to-day activities on your project.
9. What software or technology does the firm use to manage your project? ​

Precise and consistent collaboration is a key differentiation between the quality of service you receive from your commercial general contractors. Utilizing technology for project management is a key for effective construction management.

10. What are the safety processes of the construction company? How does the company implement safety on their job sites?

Commercial construction projects are at high risk for fatalities. The company need to have clear safety plan and processes in place. You should ask for company safety procedure and plan to minimize risk on your job site.

11. How many projects do you have going on right now?

You want to be sure your GC is attentive/responsive to you and doesn’t put your project on the back-burner. The number of projects he can run simultaneously depends on how effective his firm is and how they’ve met deadlines previously.
12. How do you stay current and on top of trends?

New and better products are constantly being developed in home building. Your contractor needs to actively stay on top of product introductions, service innovations and industry trends by doing several of the following on a regular basis: attending conferences, taking continuing education classes, reading trade magazines, subscribing to industry newsletters, meeting with sales reps and networking with industry professionals.