With the ever-increasing number of restaurants in the market, the restaurateurs must have an eagle’s eye to understand the needs and demands of the customers to keep their business running. Ambarin Chougle speaks to the designers in the industry to understand the status of these emerging brands from the design perspective.
Indians are known for their love for food. Why wouldn’t they be? Blessed with a variety of cuisines in their own country, they are bound to have a knack for good food. To keep up with this love of its people, India has been booming with restaurants and cafeterias serving varieties of food.
Not only food!
Restaurants and cafeterias have become a place to unwind and relax after a tiring day at work. The burgeoning number of restaurants in the metropolitan cities is the proof of increasing popularity of good restaurants, cafeterias and bars for leisure. But for most people, restaurants are more than just good food. It is about the ambience, the lighting, and the service. Space plays a vital role to enhance the pleasure of dining.
With a lot of competition in the market, every owner is trying to create a themed restaurant to attract customers and stay in the race. The themes go from as normal as a quirky-designed restaurant to Bollywood. The themes, along with the cuisines, also go international like Mexican to Italian. There is a vivid range of restaurants that one can see in a city. Along with space, the names also go as quirky like Nau se Barah, Lord of the Drinks, Hitchki, Quattro, etc. Though the main concern still remains food, space adds to the mood of dining.
The night-life, trending among the millennial, has been encouraging the setup of these cafés and bars. There are crores of rupees being spent on the restaurant with no guarantee of it taking a hit.
“I see a huge boom in the restaurant industry as people are becoming more open to new cuisines which were previously never really even considered. Even within a space like Gujarati thali, there are now so many varieties of food options available; it is really impressive”, says Sarah Sham, Founder, Essajees Atelier, an interior designer who has many such restaurants to her credits.
Other than themes, restaurants have tried to stand out by indulging in new ideas like the open kitchen concepts, low-smoke concept, sustainability in different aspects, etc. Sustainable design start with materials – whether food or design elements, says Abhigyan Neogi, Principal Architect, Chromed Design Studio. He explains that with awareness comes an increase in responsibility for restaurateurs and designers to be more careful in food sourcing and design creations. “The main highlight is to create a breathing space, with the use of natural ventilation, fabricate a concoction of outdoors and indoors and a theme which caters to energy efficient composition”, he says. Focus on bringing in nature is the latest trend in the hospitality industry. “A lot of restaurants are finding ways to integrate plants into their design since many spots are located in malls or places that don’t really have much character, so there’s a huge focus now on bringing plants into spaces and making restaurant design more green”, says Sham. She even opines that other than material, there isn’t anything sustainable that is seen in the restaurants. “There’s surplus usage of AC and electricity in restaurants and I am yet to hear of solutions in that department. However, when it comes to building materials there is a lot of focus on wood and cement which are comparatively more sustainable materials” says Sham.
One of the critical elements of a restaurant design is the functional area. The manner in which guests arrive at the restaurant, the kitchen operations, presentation, and hospitality are essentially design dependent. Making sure the operational layout works seamlessly and effortlessly for the restaurateurs leads to success and ensures that diners have an excellent experience. Whether a fine-dine or a deli, each requires great detail to make a restaurant functional. If a restaurant fails on the parameters of functionality – the interior décor and design go in vain.
The speciality of any bar or restaurant lies in its atmosphere, which is created by the décor, music, and lighting. When one talks about a great bar or restaurant, they remember how they felt, and interior décor and design is what adds to their experience. The design of bars, restaurants & cafés plays a vital role in the development of the F&B industry. Neogi while commenting on the restaurant designs said, “In the present day, bar and restaurants have become places of design experimentation and customisation, a goal to provide customers with an elegant yet quirky experience – a moment of relief from the daily bustle which becomes a trendsetter on its own.” Even after a lot of investment in time and money, there is a risk involved, like every other business, whether it will take off since restaurants fail quickly. “The huge challenge I see is in the rentals that are paid in large cities and the increasing regulations and costs involved with licenses for restaurants”, expressed Sham when concerns about return on investment were evinced.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
The impact of design on return on investment because of the cut-throat competition has lead people to spend a surplus amount of money on their restaurants. “We hear of places that have spent 6 and 7 crore Indian Rupees on interiors, however, the focus needs to remain on the main product- the food. Without that, there is no sense on spending so much on restaurant design especially since the shelf life is so unpredictable”, says Sham.
ROI is directly proportional to the space impact on the user. Diners seek for a different ambience when they prefer to dine out. The pleasure one gets from dining out no longer just depends upon the food and the time spent collaboratively. Standout after-hours experiences are all about the atmosphere and
comprehensively themed spaces enhancing culinary experience, opines Neogi. He says design plays a crucial role in the traffic attraction, as it is directly proportional to the number of hours spent by an individual – eventually affecting the ROI generated.
Prophesying the appetite
Foreseeing the restaurants and cafés in the hospitality industry, Sham says that bright days ahead filled with a lot of yummy food. “Restaurant design is ready to go to the next level with so many international designers showing interest in Indian spaces.” says the designer. The large appetite that Indian customers have to eat out coupled with an increased spending power is only going to make the future look more exciting, she exclaims.
Summing up about the restaurant designs, Neogi says that “To be modern is not a fashion, it is a state. It is necessary to understand history, and he who understands history knows how to find continuity between that which was, that which is, and that which will be.”