The name all day dining (ADD) or 3 meal restaurant typically defines the-beginning-of-the-end to generate a sensory fulfilling and dynamic meal experience creating the possibility and potential of a restaurant destination deemed as a success. But what does a successful restaurant look like ? A simple answer would be to achieve a busy restaurant where consumers are inspired to return. However by nature of its name, the mindset when providing design direction and support is that this will be everything and anything. The final outcome is on many occasions typically nothing executed particularly well.

The most common mistakes that should be avoided at all costs if an operation is to have some chance and opportunity to succeed are as follows :

Plenty of Vision…….lacking in strategy

The opportunity in creating a restaurant vision is very exciting yet when defined, a vision needs an accompanying strategy and business case with clear goals and objectives which are communicated throughout an organisation. In a word the dream needs ‘legs’ providing definition of expectations and deliverables. The strategy needs to be able to support and justify the vision through considered market research focusing on supply and demand as well as a bankable financial business case.

Interior design driven….

A design direction dictated by interior design experts will not have the substance required to create a food and beverage sensory experience connected back to the restaurant purpose and goals in order that the consumer is inspired to return over and over again. The restaurant must have a mantra, a simple yet effective message conveying the dining experience to be delivered such that staff are clearly able to explain. This will be the words by which the operations team ‘hang their coat’ and take an understanding to develop a sensory experience. This typically will not refer to the quality of chairs, light techniques or depth of carpet!

Restaurant concept and direction…..or lack of it!

More often or not a variety of computer generated images are assembled and agreed to as design intent leading developers and owners down an emotive path. Little or no consideration is given for the operating meal periods, consumer market, financial modelling and most importantly the restaurant food and beverage programming. Another aspect is generating ‘touch points’ or ‘signatures’ whereby a guest recalls, in the future, enjoyable and pleasant memories inspiring the possibility of a return visit.

Buffet….the lazy option, who wants them?

Where does the inspiration come from whereby ambient, hot and cold structures with sneeze guards and heat lamps become part of an engaging dining experience. The initiative seems to come from international hospitality operators with brands to define and protect through definitive operating standards and expectations that drive the food and beverage programming. These directions are typically delivered with no consumer research or consideration and arrive through emails from out of touch corporate food & beverage personnel. Regionally expectations can differ and it is assumed buffet is better and easier to execute. We would challenge operators to develop alternatives which inspire consumers to spend more time and money in the restaurant yet many an operator will opt for the operationally cheaper and easier solution….that’s lazy.

Design identity

A restaurant needs identity from which consumers can trust and realise an enjoyable dining experience. Diners these days use social media to share, in real time, dining experiences with multiples of different persons. It’s the psychological and physical branding driving and integrated into the restaurant direction by the design team to deliver memorable physical attributes of an experience. These attributes tether the restaurant concept direction such that consumers trust are immersed in an authentic experience.

Written by Edward Harvey, Food & Beverage Concept Director & GM Tricon Dubai

Restaurant Designers