Restaurant Decorating: True Stories From Profitable Proprietors

When you think of successful restaurateurs, who do you think of? Some of the best in the world have done their part to transform the way people think about eating out. Whether you’re a struggling beginner or a seasoned professional, here’s what you need to know to kick your restaurant up a notch. BAM!


The BBQ Joint Decorated With Flamethrowers

It pays to be creative. It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing things the way everyone else is doing them. And, while some “best practices” are warranted, many are not. Take the case of Arrogant Swine. Tyson Ho is a classic startup entrepreneur.

Only, he didn’t have the money to go “whole hog” on his restaurant. Instead, he had to improvise. Everyone was telling him he should buy out Crate and Barrel and antique-like stores to make his BBQ joint look classy.

And, while the food needed to be authentic, the decor was most decidedly not.

Ho’s solution?

Rather than pony up the dough for expensive-looking benches and decor, he took a flamethrower to some wood (really) to create an authentic burnt wood that’s both functional and cheap.

In Japan, they call it Shou sugi ban – it’s a way of preserving wood by charring it.

Ho didn’t have the money for that, so he literally burned the wood himself.

Why Good Seating Is Important

Professional restaurateurs know that seating is crucial. If customers are uncomfortable, then they’ll find somewhere else to sit – usually not in your restaurant.

Flimsy tables and uncomfortable chairs are more than just an inconvenience. If someone hurts themselves at your restaurant, it becomes a liability for you.

The solution is (fortunately), simple. If you have broken tables, buy new table legs. If you have broken chairs, buy new chairs. Make sure that they are at least as comfortable as you’d like if you came into your own restaurant for something to eat or drink.

Cool Restaurant Design That Goes Unnoticed

Maybe your favorite Mexican restaurant is adorned with Catholic symbols, knick-knacks, and pastel paints. A lot of the best design decisions aren’t visually stunning. Sure, there’s the epic bar that’s a one-off designer piece.

The same applies to fast food chains. Whether or not the decor is appealing, the overall look of the interiors of the restaurant generally goes unnoticed. Simple features on benches and tables, color schemes, a menu on tv, and the ambiance are mostly noticed subconsciously for the appeal and not for the convenience. Having said that, a lot of thought may have gone into the design and overall look of the place, which is grossly underappreciated.

The real design features are in the lighting choices, the layout of the place, and the overall feel. You don’t really see any of this, but you definitely notice it – at least on a subconscious level.

If you’re not a designer, or have a good eye for what “feels right,” it’s hard to explain or get right.

The Importance Of A Clean Carpet

A clean carpet says to guests, “we care about the restaurant and how it looks.” Why does it say that? Because a carpet is something most people won’t spend a lot of time looking at unless it’s in terrible shape.

And, when it is, suddenly, it sends out the wrong kind of vibe. The kind of vibe that says, “this place is sketchy.”


You don’t need to blare the music for people to have a good time. In fact, some soft classical music in the background is probably perfect. Your guests shouldn’t have to shout to carry on a conversation. In fact, if they have to talk louder than a normal indoor “conversational voice,” the music is too loud.

Jade Anderson has worked as a marketing/branding consultant within the restaurant industry for 10 years. She shares her invaluable knowledge by writing articles in the hopes of inspiring and helping small businesses succeed and grow.