Thursday, February 24, 2011

"What Were They Thinking Thursday!!??" - Restaurant Mistakes

These days people eat out a lot, probably too much. But why do people eat out so much? Well the first reason is it's just easier. You don't have to cook this fabulous meal, you can just go buy it! Another reason is the ambience. It's great to get all dolled up and go out to an awesome restaurant for a nice meal and some nice service. If I am spending a lot of money on eating out, there are few things that I expect in a restaurant, nay demand in a restaurant.

This first is the most obvious, cleanliness. Now that's just a general statement so let me break it all down for you. The bathroom must be clean! There is nothing worse than going into a nice restaurant and when it comes time to visit the facilities they are disgusting. If that's what the bathrooms look like, then how does that reflect on the kitchen that's behind closed doors?

Next up, the tables and chairs. Just wiping the table down quickly with a stained rag that came out of the bus boys back pocket doesn't cut it. I like to see some cleaner sprayed on that surface and then really wiped down with a decent rag. Also, booth seating. How many times have you sat down to slide over in the booth and there is some kind of food or sticky substance in your sliding path? Gross! Yes, I am one of those people who gets a napkin and wipes the seat before I sit down. I paid a lot for these jeans and I don't intend to have mashed potatoes smeared on the rear.

The servers and waiters should also be clean. The hair should be pulled back and their appearance should reflect that of the restaurant's. Also, wipe down the menus! Let's see. I'll have the salmon with, wait, what does it come with, I can't see it because there's gravy on my menu!

Now let's address the ceiling. The vents and fans must be cleaned. I have been sitting at a restaurant before just crossing my fingers that the gigantic dust bunny on the fan overhead won't fall into my food. Yuck!

I think you get the idea. Clean clean clean! Nothing can be too clean in a restaurant.

What else bothers me about restaurants? Well, I am just getting started!

Restrooms are not to be used for storage.
Ladies restrooms need to have a purse hook. I think this is one of my biggest pet peeves. How many of us have done the one handed toilet paper grab and tear because we can't let our purse touch the floor? Put up some hooks!!! We need both hands.

When it comes to tables, invest in some good commercial quality furniture. Tables that are cheap tend to wear fast and pretty soon we are shoving sugar packets under the leg just so our soup stays in the bowl.
Buy good chairs! The chairs need to be comfortable, not too heavy and not cheap plastic patio furniture!
Walmart special on cheap patio furniture.

I said commercial furniture, not commercial office furniture!

What's with restaurants that have tiny tables? The plates don't even fit!

That plate looks like it's about to fall off the table!

I don't see how three people are supposed to eat at these tables!

Also, the tables need to be the correct distance apart. You are eating out with friends and really don't want strangers basically sitting on top of you and listening to your conversation. I hate it when the tables are too close together and when you get up to leave your rear is in the other person's table! Not good!

Table lighting is also very important. You need to have enough light to actually see what you are eating! I think some restaurants have poor lighting because they don't want you to see their food because then you may not eat it!

Having adequate waiting space is very important. I hate it when there's 30-45 minute wait and you are standing over a poor couple who got the worst table in the house, right in the entry. There needs to be a designated place to wait to be seated and the place needs to have places for people to sit down. The elderly and pregnant women need a place to rest while they wait.

Now let's get to the decor. Just like I have been saying all along, the decor needs to be thought out and intentional. Don't just throw stuff up on the walls and buy furniture on a whim. Come up with the culture of the restaurant and how you want people to feel when they are there. Then, come up with a design plan, or hire an interior designer to do it for you. Let's take a look at restaurants with just bad design and no style:

No design at all and those chairs look they would be really heavy.

Lose the fake plants already! Especially all the ivy hanging over your food! Fake plants gather dust and just look terrible.
Same goes for the restroom. This looks terrible! Please someone help these people!

The restroom should be clean and well designed like these:

Love this. Simple and modern.

Very nice!

Ok, so you know you need to come up with a design plan. Well, it needs to be appropriate. Just because you have a theme and everything fits into that theme doesn't mean you got it right. Check out this awful restaurant:

This theme is terrible and disgusting.


Enough of the bad, time to look at places that got it completely right. Now you tell me if these pictures make you want to eat at these places.

I know this isn't a restaurant but I wanted to show you the floor above the restaurant first.

This is so cool! I love this enormous sculpture running through two floors.

This is an awesome waiting lobby.

Very cool! I love the candlesticks.

Great lighting!

Great example of a design plan. Everything fits with the image of this Serendipity restaurant.

Very cool light fixtures. Again, you can tell that everything in this room is intentional.

This is fabulous! I absolutely love the books printed on everything.

Doesn't this make you want to eat here?

That's thing about great design, it makes people want to come to your restaurant. These days, we expect the whole package in a restaurant. Good food and great atmosphere! Spend the extra money to have an awesome interior design, it will make more money for you in the end if you build it they will come.

I love the fireplace in here with all the copper pans hanging around it!

So what drives you crazy about restaurants?


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where's the Couch?

I was never really good at following the rules. Yesterday we talked about breaking some of those traditional rules that people think they have to follow and today is no different.

When you think of a living room, what piece of furniture comes to mind? The sofa. The sofa is the most common piece of furniture that goes into a living room. But what happens when you take that sofa away? You get something fabulous like this:

Using only chairs in a living room instead of the typical three piece sofa, loveseat and chair makes for a great look. Placing four chairs in a circle around a table is great for conversation, much better than sitting side by side on a sofa.

This look is not for everyone. You really need to decide what the main function of the space will be. If the room is for TV watching than a sofa is better because it allows for more seats facing the TV. Also, you can cuddle up to your loved one and watch a movie.

If the function of the space is more for receiving guests and conversation, then a cluster of chairs is a better option. People typically don't like to sit next to other people. You can observe this in any waiting room. People will spread out and sit all over the room. How many times have you sat down in a crowded movie theater but still sat one seat over from the stranger with the popcorn? I know I always leave a buffer seat wherever I go!

Also, the circle grouping is better for conversation. It allows for everyone to see everyone without turning your head the side, which can quickly become a pain in the neck!

Another reason to use only chairs is if you have a smaller sitting area or an odd shape. It's easier to arrange chairs than it is to place a sofa and an odd shaped room. It also allows for more options in arranging. The chairs are easier to move around so you can transform the room as needed for different functions.

Let's take a look at some really fabulous rooms none of which have a traditional sofa.



So what do you think? Thinking about swapping out that old sofa for some really awesome chairs? I know I am! I love antiques and I always seem to find funky chairs but can never find anywhere to put them. Next project will be to rearrange my living room and use only chairs. I will let you know how it goes!