If you had the choice between dining at a warmly lit restaurant with dim hanging lamps or an establishment with bright, cool-toned overhead lighting, chances are you would select the warmly lit one. That’s because lighting has a lot to do with your experience. The same is true for QSRs. Your food must be good and your dining area needs to be clean, but your lighting should be warm and welcoming, too.

So, what type of lighting should you use? And how does each type impact your guests? Here are some tips for creating an appealing, welcoming environment to make your QSRs more inviting.

Understand your lighting options

First off, it’s important to understand your options. There are actually four types of restaurant lighting, and you likely use a mixture of all of them.

  1. Ambient — allows people to move and see easily and comfortably.
  2. Task — used for reading a menu, cooking, in the kitchen.
  3. Accent — to spotlight wall decoration, plants, and more.
  4. Natural Lighting — is free and sometimes very useful. Use your windows, doors with glass panels, and skylights to take advantage of outside light. Become familiar with the position of the sun throughout the day and use shutters, curtains, or blinds to keep the sun out of the eyes of your patrons. Naturally, the seasons and the weather will have an effect on the lighting in your establishment.

Of course, you won’t have the same lighting throughout your store. Spaces like the kitchen or bathroom need to be more brightly lit than your dining area. But understanding the types of lighting and how it can be used is a huge step toward creating a pleasant atmosphere for your customers.

7 tips for lighting your QSR

The biggest benefit to lighting your QSR properly is making everything in the site visible. Naturally, customers want to be able to read the menu and safely navigate the store. More importantly, customers want to view the food they ordered. Make your restaurant’s lighting adjustable so you have the level of light needed for all your activities.

In addition to providing adequate lighting, your light choices have a number of other impacts. Here are some of the most important:

1. Dimmers are your friend

We know you are not trying to create a romantic vibe in your QSR, but it is still essential to have the ability to raise and lower brightness based on the time of day, the weather outside, and the amount of spotlighting needed to emphasize your food offerings.

2. Focus on your décor

Lighting is one of the best ways to display the theme and ambiance of a quick-service restaurant. Be thoughtful about lighting type and even color temperature. The design of the lighting fixtures, the style of the placement, and the architecture of the site will dictate which lighting elements to choose.

3. Make the menu stand out

Your menu deserves extra attention, which is why many QSRs are going to digital menu boards. You can make traditional menu boards stand out, though, with additional light. Aim up to 4-times as much light at the menu than the surrounding area. Beware of glare if the menu board has a glossy finish or glass cover.

4. Use LEDs wisely

We all know that LED lights use less energy. In most environments, this is a plus, but QSRs may not see LED lights as an advantage because they do not dim well and are, in most cases, brighter than incandescent lighting. They can also distort the colors of objects.

Food is enhanced by the proper illumination. If the true colors of the food being served are not well represented, the food will not look appetizing. The bottom line is not to lose sight of the quality of the lighting just because you want to save energy.

5. Add accent lighting

Understand that the atmosphere in any restaurant is influenced by the lighting. Once you know the combination of light sources you need and which ones to avoid, you can achieve the ambiance you desire for your space.

Once you determine your main source of light, don’t be afraid to use accent lighting over tables. Just make sure your lights aren’t overpowering.

6. Don’t overlook outdoor lighting

The importance of outdoor lighting cannot be overemphasized. Navigating the parking lot while customers are parking and as they are walking into your store is crucial. To guarantee your customers enter safely, employ lighting professionals to decipher how many lights are needed and to install the cumbersome light poles. Remember, outdoor lighting is an extension of your guests’ dining experience.

7. Don’t let your restaurant look burnt out

QSRs with burnt out lighting for an extended period of time, inside or outside, are less inviting. You may even have guests wondering how well you are taking care of your business, from food quality to cleaning conditions. Make sure that you regularly watch for any bulbs that are going out, so you can proactively replace as soon as possible.

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of lighting and the impacts they can have on your QSR, you can light your store in a strategic way that is both warm and inviting.

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