There are a number of factors to be considered when Thames comes up with a café or restaurant design for its London customers. We will work with you to create a design which is up to the minute and exactly tailored to your requirements, drawing on more than 25 years of experience of designing, building and refurbishing a wide range of venues.
When you are planning to open up a new café or restaurant, you can start to create a brief for your new design by considering some of the following key elements.
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Choose a Mood
Deciding what type of atmosphere to create is an important starting point for a café or restaurant design – and the choice of materials and decorative elements will often become easier once this is established. For instance, you might want to ensure your coffee shop or restaurant has a relaxed ambience, encouraging people to stay, meet with friends and turn it into a social venue. Soft mood lighting, squashy armchairs and dark wood tables all help to create this type of mood. Alternatively, you might want to create a vibrant, fast-moving flavour, making your eating establishment a place to be seen but perhaps not stay for long. Brighter colours or steel, glass and modern lighting could all work to create this type of mood.
Regulars or Passing Trade?
When creating a café or restaurant design in some areas of London, such as tourist hot spots, travel centres and shopping malls, it is clearly important to appeal to passing trade. However, other types of eating establishments will be situated in residential areas and so will need to attract regular customers. The question of which type of clientèle you have in mind is an important factor in deciding on the style of your new café.
If your main customer base is likely to be passing trade, then the aim is to create a more immediate appeal, which will bring people through the door who have never eaten at your premises before. This means striking designs are vital to get your premises noticed. With this type of establishment, you will also want a design to encourage fast throughput, and a table layout to cater for single customers as well as groups.
However, the emphasis of your café or restaurant design may need to be rather different if you are aiming to attract regulars from a particular London residential area. Here, it will be important to create a reputation for quality coffee and a menu which may encourage people to linger, and to keep coming back. An atmosphere of comfort, with facilities for families, will help to turn your premises into a desirable place to meet.
All these factors will have an influence on the chosen design, and also on menu range, which could vary from “on-the-go” food for shoppers to eat quickly to a more leisurely lunch option in a neighbourhood eaterie.
How Many Functions?
Some cafés and restaurants deliver the same menu all day – but others ring the changes. In some cases, the same venue might need to serve as a commuter coffee stop in the mornings, a bistro at lunch time and a bar at night. Knowing what clientèle you want to attract at different times helps to define what furniture and fittings are needed and whether some elements need to be configurable. For instance, it may be a good idea to include seating arrangements which can be easily changed, so that if you have single commuters popping in during the morning and larger groups later in the day, small tables can easily be moved together. Also, the lighting may need to be altered at different times of day to change the mood.
Niche or Broad Market?
It is important to decide on your market, for instance, whether you want to offer business lunches, attract mums and kids or trendy youth, create a seniors’ hang-out – or achieve a broad appeal to all types.
If you are looking to a niche market for your customers, this may mean it is a good idea to go for a more extreme look. For instance, the design and décor could be very high-tech for a business clientèle or trendy venue, while a more traditional and comfortable overall look would be appropriate for a family market and seniors. If you are looking to create a broad appeal, one way to do this is to provide a mixture of zones to appeal to different types of customer, tying the whole together through choice of colour or materials.
Deciding on your chosen market also affects the facilities you will want to offer, ranging from wi-fi and phone/laptop charging points to baby change and food warming facilities, newspapers and magazines. Menu choices are another aspect needing to be appropriately targeted. For instance, should you offer kids’ meals, and do you want the emphasis on trendy or traditional sandwich fillings?
Intended Lifespan of Design
Another question to consider is how long the look needs to last. If your café or restaurant is being fitted out as a very trendy venue, you might expect to refurbish every five years; however, a more traditional venue may need to last 10 or 20 years. This consideration affects the style of décor and choice of materials, and will impact on what is a reasonable budget.
New or Established Business
If you are taking over a premises and creating a brand new business rather than just a change of ownership, then it would pay to go for a look which is highly distinct from the previous business, to emphasise that this is a completely different venue and encourage new customers to try it out. However, if you are taking over from an established business which has already built up a good customer base, then it pays to keep some elements that old customers can recognise, while still giving it a facelift.
Thames Contracts has a wealth of experience and expertise in café and restaurant design projects in the London area, and we are proud of our record on working to time and budget.
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