The restaurant of your hotel is the social epicentre of your property. It’s essential that you spend time developing it so that it meets your guest’s needs. In smaller, boutique properties, one restaurant that caters to breakfast, lunch and dinner, is commonplace. However, these three different dining times have very different requirements, so an element of flexibility in design and atmosphere is essential.
Select your furniture carefully
The style of table offered can change the atmosphere of your dining area. For example, round tables are great for breakfast dining because they encourage social interaction and conversations. They also cater well to families who may need five or six dining places to accommodate younger members. Round tables also work well for lunch groups.
Make sure you offer a mix of table options including several tables for two, for couples or single travellers. Again, round tables with foldable leaves can be modified for later in the day dining so that they offer dining for four, or even two, depending on your occupancy.
Make sure that in the evenings, you lessen the number of communal tables according to the group bookings. Mainly, families will opt to put children to bed before parents heading to the restaurant for a quiet supper. More couples’ tables makes for a more intimate atmosphere for them to enjoy.
Linen and table dressing
You can very easily transform the look and feel of your restaurant from the breakfast shift to evening dining, by changing the linen and the lighting. Always opt for tablecloths in the evenings – and make sure they are a different colour to the ones you use at breakfast – if you use tablecloths. Sometimes, bare tables dressed casually with place mats and napkins work best for early morning dining. Later on, beautifully pressed linen cloths with good quality napkins, professionally folded, along with polished cutlery, glasses and a candle, will transform the atmosphere of your dining space.
Breakfast dining should be bright, breezy and well-lit. If your dining area is situated in a part of the hotel with low, natural light, think about adding additional light sources for early morning dining. There are lighting specialist who can mimic daylight through the placement of fixtures that won’t be obvious to diners.
While it might seem an extravagance, your guest dining experience will be one that stays with them after their stay. Making sure the ambient lighting works well, will contribute to the overall mood of the restaurant. If you are lucky enough to have large windows or even a conservatory area, make the most of these features. In the mornings, natural light can flood in, while in the evenings, grand drapes can be pulled to create a cosy and intimate effect.
Dining room layout
While furniture plays a large part of your dining room layout, there are other factors you should consider. Optimising the ease at which your diners can move around the restaurant, and managing the noisy areas well, all contribute to a positive dining experience. Bear in mind that open-plan layouts are often more successful that sectioned off dining pockets. Not only is it easier for dining staff to operate in an open-plan space, it also creates a better atmosphere for diners. If your table is tucked away out of sight, it might at first seem intimate and private. But will you feel as though your are getting the best possible service if your table of out of view from the waiting staff? Some guests can end up feeling as though their table was ignored due to not being immediately visible.
Furthermore, an open-plan design will make it easier for guests to move around in. Although this might not seem as though it’s an immediately obvious benefit, the impression a diner should be left with is one of enjoyment, ease and contentment. If something bothers them about the restaurant, they may either opt to done elsewhere, or stay somewhere that have a restaurant more to their taste.
Optimise your menu
Each dining time requires specific menu choices. For breakfast, you may opt for a buffet selection with the option of a la carte too. Most hotels find offering a partial buffet as well as a menu, offers diners the best of both worlds. For lunch and dinner dining, once again, tweak the menu. Lunches should offer lighter menu alternatives. While evening dining can once again, provide a more luxury approach.
Its important to offer distinctly different menus – but not to try and offer too much at each sitting. Four to five mains, catering to vegetarians, fish lovers and meat eaters should be enough for an evening menu. Just make sure each dish is prepared well, and the service is good. The same principles can apply for lunchtime dining. But, you can offer slightly more options for breakfast as fair tends to be lighter and faster to prepare.