Give a little heart and soul – Bar & Kitchen

Give a little heart and soul

Updating your space can take many forms, from a lick of paint refresh to a total transformation. During the quiet months of the New Year, plan to refresh your space. By closing off specific areas and moving your trade into the space that is left you will create a cosier, busier environment which can be managed section by section without having to shut the entire venue. This will give you the opportunity to preserve income and maintain customer loyalty. Here’s how to make those changes, says Richard Eastwood of R2 Architecture, designer of premier restaurant chains such as Mowgli.

Before you start

You’re so close to your business it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Ask a friend or associate to critique your venue.

Change isn’t always the answer on its own. Think about your purpose: what is it you do, what is it you want to do better, what are the issues you want to solve?

Function before form

Who are your customers? Is there a type of customer you want to attract?

What do you do? Wine tasting? Parties? Romantic meals? Cater for large groups? Sports nights? All of these will dictate how your space should work.

Redesign is about ‘tidying up’. Use clever tweaks to make your operation run more smoothly. Build in comfort and use drapes and soft furnishing to soften sounds.

Don’t follow trends

You can’t just take a design from Pinterest or TikTok. It’s YOUR business – it must reflect your personality.

So-called ‘Instagrammable’ places will come along. Not surprisingly, those places often close after six months.

Colour first

Colour should always be the first thing you think of.

Never just settle for ‘grey’ because it’s inoffensive.

Colour must match your branding/logo. A popular saying among interior designers is ‘Design is heart, branding is soul’.

Pink is hot now. Will it be next year? Probably not.

Lighting matters

Think layers of lighting. This is when you use different types of lights across your venue. 1) Ambient lighting ensures people can see across the room. 2) Accent lighting highlights points of interest, such as the shelving for your spirit bottles or glasses. This light should be three times brighter than ambient lights. 3) Task lighting. Use this by your till or over tables. It needs to be glare-free and shadow-free.

Use accent lighting to pick out beautiful things. For example, flowers, plants, ornaments or artwork.

The colour temperature of the lights (in Kelvins) need to be right. Yellow lights give a warmer, relaxing tone and blue light is cooler and good for co-working spaces.

Are you sitting comfotably

Is it a first date place, a second date place? Do couples want to sit side by side? At the original Ivy restaurant in London, they place friends opposite each other and couples at right angles.

Look around. Where are people going to sit? And are you expecting a large standing crowd?

Booths for friends are good. However, high-perched tables encourage mixed visiting and sociability.

Long tables are ideal for wine tasting, food sharing and birthday parties. Think about how you are going to manage the space for serving food – is there plenty of space for the waiting staff to get in between the tables?

Ideas to drive footfall

January is the time of year for people to get fit – could you get a local fitness instructor or yoga teacher in to host classes? Charge a hire fee or take a cut of the class revenue.

Hire out your room for kids’ parties. Offer catering and soft drink packages to encourage more spend.

Co-working space: if you tend to be quiet in the daytime, consider offering part of your venue for people to work in and charge a small fee each day. Lots of customers will buy hot drinks and lunch, too. You will need to invest in good internet for this.

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