Hospitality Design Success
About four years ago, we decided to specialise in hospitality design, specifically in suburban areas, recognising that Melbourne was decentralising and people living in outer suburbs wanted and deserved beautiful eateries in their neighbourhoods.
Hospitality business owners also picked up on this trend and the need to work with an interior designer to provide a beautiful space for both locals and foodies to visit. Of course, Instagram has ignited this also and we found our accessible design approach to be attractive to hospitality business owners wanting to open a business in the outer suburbs of Melbourne.
As such we’ve worked with some great clients, with thriving food businesses such as Charlie and Leo’s in Lower Plenty, Sycamore Meadows in Reservoir and Bekka in Moonee Ponds and this experience has provided us with incredible insight into what makes a hospitality business successful in this highly competitive market, which we’re happy to share.
The Importance of a Harmonious Space
But first what is design success? There is a principle of interior design which all designers aspire to, which is harmony. A harmonious space is one where all the elements of interior design come together such as space considerations like flow of movement, line, shape, colour, texture, light and pattern all coming together beautifully.
If you have spent time in a bar, restaurant or café and didn’t like it or it didn’t feel right, it’s because the space didn’t achieve a harmonious outcome. So it’s important to work with a designer to ensure your space works well, looks good, and feels good because people will notice and possibly not return affecting your bottom line and business success.
The backbone of a harmonious space is your story or a clear vision or a cutting edge food dream, the fire in the belly that drives you to open a food business something your customers can connect with. For example the story at Bekka Lebanese Restaurant was about sharing and promoting the wonderful food produce region of the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon with Melbourne diners. At Sycamore Meadows the inspiration was my client’s passion for a musician called Butch Walker and Los Angeles.
It’s different for every client but vital because more than good food, customers love a good story, they love to know they’re part of bringing your dream to life by spending time in your space. Whether you’re opening your first food business or you’re an experienced hospitality business owner having a clear vision (or whatever you want to call it) and seeking help to realise this dream is the first step to business success.
Getting the Right Help
Possibly the second step to business success is seeking the right help from the right people. For one of my clients who were first timers they received professional help from a hospitality consultant who helped them strategically plan their business from operations to branding. A graphic designer is helpful for branding and signage, an interior designer is also crucial, you will need help with developing a line budget such as an accountant, opening a food business is a multifaceted project, but with the right team on your side, working for you, you’re more certain of a successful outcome.
Four Key Elements of Design Success
From our experience in hospitality design, working with a number of clients, our focus is on 4 key elements; what’s the food offering, what’s the business name, do you have a brand (a logo isn’t enough these days), and how can the interior design work to bring all these things together?
Let’s break these down by starting with the food offering, the interior design must reflect what the menu says for example imagine if the interior colour scheme of George Calombaris’ Hellenic Republic was black white and grey and not blue and white, it would be odd. The menu says tzatziki but you’re sitting on a Mid Century Modern inspired chair. These two examples don’t make sense, there’s no connection or synergy between the food and the interior design, there is no harmony.
It was Shakespeare who wrote ‘what’s in a name’ and in your food business the answer is everything. Some people come up with a name because it’s cool, catchy, quirky and that’s fine but does it make sense with your strategy, your food, your brand, your interior design. For example would you associate the Brunswick Mess Hall with an Asian inspired menu. The name of your business is only part of the story but you want to give customers a good chance of understanding your business from the outset and then when they walk in, sit down and look around it all starts to make sense and come together.
A logo is one thing a brand is another, just look at Apple. With the iPhone you’re not just buying a phone, you’re buying into what the Apple brand stands for, it’s a commitment and personal connection. To be successful your brand needs to connect with your customers, not just a pretty picture. These days your brand also needs to be accessible on different platforms such as web, social media, print such as menu and signage whatever form that takes.
And then there is the interior design, to bring your story to life. There are so many components to interior design as mentioned above but your interior designer will develop a concept and all the finishes, fixtures, furniture and furnishings that tells your story with aplomb. And don’t think for a second that people don’t take notice of the design, here are just a couple of examples from diner’s reviews of our projects the first one for Sycamore Meadows;
‘Being quite familiar with LA, I think the vibe is spot on, without being cheesy Venice Beach. Probably something I’d see in Westwood. Love it!’
And this for Bekka,
‘Went for lunch today, we had the Felafal Wrap, Chicken Skewers and Chips of course they where all amazing, tasty and so yummy…. Great service and a beautiful set up inside and out…..!! We will be back again soon’
With the first review about Sycamore Meadows, it was like that person was with my client and I at our first meeting, from the interior design she understood what my client’s vision was. Such rewarding feedback for both myself as the interior designer and my client.
The second review is also interesting because the customer just went in for a quick lunch and still had time to notice the ‘beautiful set up inside and out’, another rewarding piece of feedback.
Interior design matters and for your hospitality business to be successful good food, good interior design, good graphic design, a good business name all brought together in a strategic way to achieve synergy or what interior designers refer to as harmony is critical to deliver your customers a memorable experience they want to write about, tell other people about and come back for.
So, are you ready to embark on this journey together, we are and we’d love to chat to you about your food dream and how we can bring it to life, our first meeting is free with no obligation, let’s chat on 0499 656 737 or firstname.lastname@example.org