Restaurant Lighting — Practical Considerations, Tips, Etc.
I hope that everyone had a great weekend. For the record, I ate two Italian beefs today. And after writing that sentence, I went to get a drink of water, and drinking said water, I started thinking about the killer burger I had the other day on a pretzel roll. Which got me thinking: why not serve a beef sandwich on a pretzel roll?
This warrants further investigation. If anyone out there has experience with this, please let me know.
Okay, okay, the ramblings of a hungry madman aside, today we’re going to put the final nail in the coffin about this lighting business. We’ve talked about some lighting psychology (specifically color temperature and public and private lighting), and then we talked about using dimmers and thinking in terms of layered lighting. Today we’re going to wrap up by giving some practical tips to use while implementing your lighting plan.
Note that this post is going to assume that you’re not just throwing up some fluorescent tubes and calling it a day. I don’t want to imply that there’s anything wrong with that; some of my favorite eateries go that route. There are just fewer things to consider in that kind of setup.
Caveats aside, let’s get rolling.
So I have a few main things that I want to touch on, and probably some ancillary ones as well. There’s really no discernible order to these things, so I’m just going to start throwing them out there and we’ll go from there.
- Bulb size is important. I’m not talking about wattage here (though for most lighting designs, 30W is probably great, which also allows you to use smaller fixtures), but the physical bulb itself. If you have a pendant with a shade, make sure that your bulbs aren’t hanging below the shade. It seems obvious, but I’ve seen it while eating out.
- By the same token, you don’t want your fixtures right in people’s faces. Hang them at a decent height so people aren’t easily looking into them.
- If you’re doing rail lighting or some kind of directional lighting, make sure that they’re high enough up or close enough to the wall so you’re not shining spotlights on your customers’ heads. You also don’t want people coming in the path of the aforementioned beam. Angles are important!
- Vary it up. If you have multiple spaces throughout your establishment, you can light each one differently to establish different moods. Be creative!
- Know that you’re probably going to have spillage from your kitchen. Light spillage, that is. When your staff is coming and going from your brightly-lit kitchen into your more subdued (at least by comparison) dining room. Try to minimize this and plan accordingly, especially if your dining room lighting is on the dim end of the spectrum.
- If you’re open, look open. Don’t have your shades completely drawn during the day, or have everything so dark at night that people can’t tell that you’re ready to rock.
- Start with even light. We’ve covered this before, but it bears repeating. You want to avoid harsh shadows, both on faces and the room itself. Make sure that your ambient lighting fixtures are close enough together that you don’t feel like you need to compensate for light fall off by using brighter bulbs than you should be.
- While crossing the streams with a proton pack is bad news, crossing the beams with lighting design is perfectly acceptable. For ambient lighting with recessed cans, keep the fixtures no more than four feet apart from one another. That may seem like a lot of fixtures, but because the beams of light are going to crisscross one another, you can use lower-wattage bulbs than you might otherwise.
- By the same token, you want to avoid glares. You don’t want to be constantly messing with your customers’ pupils by having overly hotspots throughout the room.
- Try to minimize the number of different bulbs your fixtures use. In other words, you can have a bunch of different fixtures, but try to ensure that they use the same bulbs. That makes keeping bulbs in stock way easier.
- Keep in mind surfaces when picking lighting out. Sure, specular highlights can be awesome, but they can also be visually confusing when overdone in a small space. Light accordingly!
- In places with foot traffic, make sure there’s enough light for people to navigate.
THAT’S ALL, FOLKS
I think that will just about do it for our practical lighting tips. Which, in turn, just about does it for restaurant lighting. Stay tuned tomorrow when we’ll rock something else out, and talk to the righteous dudes at Vanee Foods for more help on harnessing the power of atmospherics for your operation. Take care!