How to Choose the Best Color for a Restaurant
Contrary to popular belief, restaurants are not built to cater to the greatest common denominator. It’s actually quite the opposite: Great restaurants know exactly who their target clientele are, and therefore carefully conceive and build an experience around their needs and desires. Restaurant interior design, therefore, is not merely for the purpose of making a dining establishment pleasing to the eye; it is a careful science that aims to tap the diner’s every senses just right.
Orange and yellow are also appetite stimulants. Yellow is associated with happiness, which is usually associated with a full stomach. When you see yellow, therefore, your brain secretes serotonin in anticipation of the food you’re about to eat.
Orange, on the other hand, elicits feelings of warmth and comfort — emotions that are also tied to the security of an abundant table.
Green and turquoise are mild stimulants. You might argue that green should be a strong stimulant because many leafy vegetables are green, and you’d be partly correct. Green signals edible, benign, non-poisonous plants. However, these plants are merely fibrous, not sugar-packed like most colorful fruit, which provide a jolt of energy.
Lastly, black, brown, purple, and blue are appetite suppressants. Research suggests that this is because these colors don’t exist in nature — that is, not in the form of food.
Long ago, blue, black, and purple also signaled something that was either rotten or poisonous, which our ancestors learned to avoid by sight. Like our brains’ response to red, orange, and yellow, this is also a carryover from those days.
Warm colors including reds, yellows, and oranges have the most impact on increasing a person’s appetite. Red especially is noted for creating a rich and luxurious environment for diners and increasing impulse eating, such as ordering an appetizer and a glass of wine. But it’s important to keep in mind that not all shades of red, orange, or yellow are created equal. Muted earth tones are best for restaurants, such as terracotta orange, Tuscan yellow, and deep garnet red. You should avoid really bright, vibrant shades for your main color.
Yellow, especially, can be very irritating if it is too bright or used too much throughout a dining room. Of course, if your goal is to have a high turn-over rate, such as a fast food establishment, using a brighter shade of any of these colors can subconsciously hurry along customers.
The Worst Restaurant Colors
Colors that don’t work well for restaurants are blue and purple. Actually, blue is the most liked color in the United States and promotes a calming atmosphere, but it does not translate well to most restaurant concepts. This is, in part, because there are not a lot of natural blue foods. Most blue foods are artificially dyed to appeal to children, such as ice pops, blue yogurt, and cotton candy. The same is true of purple. Blue and purple could serve as accent colors but should be used sparingly.