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6 Restaurant Lighting Tips For Managers

Your restaurant could have it all: delicious food, amazing service and every table styled to the finest detail. However, it’d all be futile if your restaurant doesn’t possess the best lighting possible. In fact, lighting is key in creating any atmosphere or mood, and is vital when you are trying to entice potential customers. So, here are 6 restaurant lighting tips for managers to make your establishment shine!



It’s an easy thing to get wrong, as customers might peek through the window and decide that they don’t want to enter because they can’t see anything as the lighting is poor. At the same time, they might be a little overwhelmed if they pass by and it’s so bright that they’re blinded and they choose to go somewhere else, so it’s important that the restaurant manager finds the right balance of what works, and what doesn’t. The tips managers should focus on include:

As you can tell, a lot can go in to perfecting the lighting in a restaurant, and it plays a crucial part in a restaurant either succeeding or failing. Let’s take a look at these 6 tips in a little more detail.

1) Lighting By Time Of Day & Seasons

There are restaurants that only open in the evenings for a couple of hours, and there are establishments that will open in the morning and offer more than just a dinner. So, it’s important that the lighting suits the time of the day, and focuses on the type of meal. Put it this way, you don’t want an intimate environment first thing in the morning, and you don’t want lots of light in the evening.

At breakfast, lots of lighting is needed if customers want to read newspapers while enjoying their coffee and breakfast and managers should look to utilise the most of their windows by letting in natural light. At lunch, a moderate level of lighting will help to create a fast turnover of customers, especially when it’s busy, and then dinner hours require low intensity of light to create an intimate and relaxing atmosphere.

There are restaurants that change their lighting throughout the day, as well as the different seasons. For example, it might be beneficial for your restaurant if you provide more ambient lighting in autumn, compared to the lighting you’d have in your restaurant during those long, hot summer nights.

2) Consistent Themes

Different lights can look good and interesting, but going overboard and having too many different styles can be overcrowded and confusing. If you’re sticking to three or four designs, that means there’s at least some consistency in the restaurant and can be the key to retaining customers, and keeping staff safe.

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3) Use Lighting To Enhance Food

The reason customers continue to go to their favourite restaurant is because of the food available, so good colour rendering is vital as managers should want their food to look as appealing as possible. Under bad lighting, food can look bland and you’d be failing to add more nuance to the dish.

At the same time, managers should avoid adding too much light that customers fail to reveal the true colours of food and drinks, as the visual impression of food and drinks might not reach its full potential and that will have a strong impact on customer experience. So, make food stand out with the lighting, but don’t go over the top.

4) Focus On The People

While it’s important that your lighting suits the theme and sits well with customers, managers also need to make sure that staff members are comfortable with the lighting too. The right sort of lighting is required in layers, so the ambient lighting needs to be right before turning focus to the bar and reception areas, then the tables and then the accent light to showcase features on the wall, such as art.

Using light to focus on the customers might include not making their tables too bright as they might have difficulty reading menus, or even making some areas more brightly lit than others to give customers a freedom of choice. Then, managers need to make sure that their staff are safe. For example, if a certain area is dark, then servers might not be able to see where they’re going and knock things over, or they might not see a potential spill on the floor. So, it’s important that they have safe, comfortable and slip-resistant footwear so that they’re safe even if they fail to spot a potential hazard in a poorly lit environment.




5) Light Specific Areas Differently

This tip links in with the theme of the restaurant, as it’s important to have 3 or 4 different types of lighting, but managers need to make sure that certain areas in the restaurant have a certain type of lighting. Having one set of lighting throughout the restaurant means nothing in the establishment stands out, and in some cases it's about safety rather than making the area look appealing.

For example, tables might need slightly brighter light so customers can read menus, but not so bright that they’re blinded and can’t even read what’s on offer. Reception and seating areas might need to be slightly brighter so staff can communicate with customers and give the restaurant a welcoming feel as they wait to be seated. If your restaurant has a bar, then the lighting there will be different, as they aim to provide a form of entertainment and won’t provide as much ambience as the restaurant tables.

In the kitchen, the lights should be much brighter as chefs and the rest of the kitchen staff need to remain safe and spot the hazards. If there is a hazard that they fail to spot because of the lighting, then it's advisable that you have your staff wear slip-resistant shoes. Shoes that include the innovative Zone Traction feature ensures the right traction patterns are in the right spot on the shoes so staff will have much better grip when they need it the most.


Commercial kitchen windows shouldn’t be fewer than 10% of the total floor area, so managers can use skylights or views of open spaces while the window position should be carefully planned. The lux in every area of the kitchen also need to be different, for example, kitchen light needs to be around 160 lux, the food preparation and washing areas need to be around 240 lux while dessert presentation and cake decorating areas need around 400-800 lux of light.

6) Don’t Overlook Outdoor Lighting

The lighting on the outside of your restaurant can be just as important as the lighting inside of your restaurant, as that determines whether customers even want to step inside. If your restaurant has blinds on the windows, then keeps them open as you’d be blocking the ambient lighting which makes the restaurant looks like it’s closed and less appealing.

While maintaining privacy might be of importance, some lighting towards the windows might be the difference between customers simply passing by, or stepping inside and becoming regulars.

7) Keep Your Restaurant Staff Safe

While lighting is important to any restaurant and the atmosphere you’re providing, it’s just as important that your restaurant staff are able to stay safe when the lighting might be poor. With slips, trips and falls being the most common workplace accident, it’s easy to miss potential hazards in dim lighting. At SHOES FOR CREWS (EUROPE) Ltd., our shoes will get your staff home safe.







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