What sets apart your favorite restaurant from all of the others? It could be the food or the fabulous wait staff, but what about the ambiance that the place creates? Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or just a relaxing dinner to forget your work week, proper lighting plays a major role in your dining experience. Not only does the lighting effect the entire mood of the restaurant, but also food presentation and overall gratification.
Not all restaurants are equal, and neither is the lighting in them. For example, think about what you see when you step into a fast food eatery. More often times than not, you see bright, vibrant colors, the top hits playing on the radio, and luminous light. Fluorescent lighting bulbs are most common in this scenario with higher color temperatures. With this, the color of the light appears brighter white, which makes the customer more alert. This could be why you feel rushed when ordering.
A recent Cornell University study looked at lighting and music in fast food restaurants. They found that those eating their meals in a brighter lighting and with faster music ate more food and enjoyed their experience less than those who ate with dimmer lighting and soft music.
But some problems come with dim lighting as well. Although dimmer lighting can enhanced your eating experience and create a more relaxed atmosphere, a lack of lighting can be a nuisance. What good is a big juicy steak if you can’t see it too? The challenge restaurants face is finding the perfect lighting balance.
Did you know that lighting also plays an important part in how you perceive your food? Restaurants know that presentation is everything, that’s why more upscale eateries use indirect lighting in the dining area. If a meal looks unappetizing because of a large shadow cast by direct lighting, that is money lost.
Light control is also incredibly important to food presentation. Using dimmers to adjust relative lighting helps maintain mood and also enhances ambient light levels, creating a softer, gentler light.
Turns out, lighting really does make a difference when picking out a place to eat. It can create an atmosphere of rapid movement or provide a calmer ambiance to dine in and enjoy. It also makes the difference between your food looking like a magazine cover and food found behind a dumpster. Next time your choosing a restaurant, reflect to see if the lights provide the best mood for your food.