Serving Up a Unique Atmosphere

Posted by Ryan Owens on Apr 4th 2013

Whether you’re operating within the quick-serve industry or upscale fine dining, there are many factors that directly affect the satisfaction of every customer who patronizes a restaurant. One of the major factors tied to consumer opinions is the restaurant’s overall environment. Shaking up the norm in a positive way can definitely enlighten the senses of the average customer.

The average quick-serve restaurant is among the least likely locations one would expect to partake in a candlelit dinner. Fine linens and real glassware typically are exchanged for plain table tops and paper or Styrofoam cups. Finely printed menus are replaced with overhead boards located behind the front counter. But what if one were to buck this trend and merge the notion of fine dining with that of the typical fast food restaurant?

A recent study conducted by Cornell University and reported by industry magazine and web outlet, QSR, did just that. “The study assembled a group of customers to eat in a standard dining room at a Hardee’s restaurant in Champaign, Illinois. A second group dined in a Hardee’s resembling a fine-dining restaurant with linen tablecloths, candles on the table, and soft jazz music playing,” reports Jennifer Gregory of QSR. “Customers in both groups ordered the same amount of food from the menu, but patrons in the fine-dining section rated the food quality higher.”

This type of reaction can be attributed to the trickle down halo effect, where one sense is enlightened, causing an increased satisfaction in other areas. Outfitting a fast food establishment to resemble a fine-dining restaurant may seem a costly and impractical way to generate increased business; however, feeding a customer’s senses can often generate increased revenue to more than cover the cost of these simple upgrades.

A true successful example of this concept can be found in the eleven Chick-fil-A Dwarf House restaurants currently operating in the metro Atlanta area. In addition to the traditional format Chick-fil-A restaurant that offers walk-up counter service and a drive-thru window, Dwarf House restaurants also offer a full-service restaurant experience with an extensive menu. Simply walking into one of these untraditional, fast food establishments on a Saturday morning, a time when they are known for serving a full breakfast buffet, will solidify the notion of increased revenue due to unconventional environments as their typically is a substantial wait to be seated within the full-service section of the restaurant.

A further example of this concept was demonstrated by the Waffle House restaurant chain on Valentine’s Day. On this day, the traditional Waffle House checker board and plain wood table atmosphere is transformed through the use of table clothes and candlelight into a unique and “romantic” reservation only atmosphere complete with a specialized menu of ribeye and eggs or pork chop dinners. This annual event, which first started in 2011, has drawn loads of customers who may have never considered Waffle House as their top 5 Valentine’s Day restaurant destinations.

When considering an upgrade to your restaurant establishment’s dining atmosphere, Classroom Essentials Online offers many choices in contemporary and traditional restaurant furniture, including our newly added line of BFM Seating furniture. We now offer numerous options in indoor wood or metal restaurant chairs and restaurant bar stools plus a large selection of indoor table tops and table bases. If your restaurant also provides an outdoor restaurant experience, we also offer a full selection of outdoor restaurant furniture. As always, if you need more information, please call (866) 404-7671 and our knowledgeable and friendly staff will be happy to answer all your restaurant furniture questions.