Although there is a lot of creativity in restaurant design today, many new restaurants still rely on design elements that are either past their prime, or that should never have become popular in the first place. Keeping the interest of both restaurateurs and diners in mind, here is a list of Top Ten Restaurant Design Trends That Need To Go:
10) Edison Bulbs: Those clear bulbs with the wispy filaments that burn so bright were cool when Tom Colicchio hung them from the ceilings of Craft back in 2002. Now, they're everywhere—enough already.
9) Cheap China: Serving $14 of ramen or $18 of oxtail soup in a cheap plastic bowl sends the message to your diners that "our food is so good, it doesn't matter what we serve it on." It also sends the message that "we dropped $30 in Chinatown one afternoon, and now we have enough plates and bowls for the next ten years!"
8) Taxidermy: Unless you're a 40-year-old chop house that serves venison steaks and wild pheasant, keep the stuffed animal heads off the walls. This will someday be a retro detail for restaurants trying to recapture the "vibe" of the late 2000s.
7) Chalkboard Menus: Does anyone prefer a handwritten menu scribbled on a giant chalkboard to a physical menu you hold in your hand? It's bad enough having to strain your neck to figure out what to order, and god help the poor soul sitting under the thing, with everyone staring just above his head all night.
6) Text On The Walls: It doesn't matter if it's the chef's mission statement, a quote from Paul Bocuse, or anything beginning with "We serve only the best, farm fresh?" text belongs on menus, art belongs on walls. Period.
5) "Speakeasy" Anything: Secret entrances, restaurants within restaurants, bartenders in butcher's coats with handlebar mustaches -- these divertissements are indeed diverting. But, if you're reading this blog, you know that there are no secrets in dining anymore. Let's be open and honest here.
4) Books For Books Sake: If you're going to have a massive row of shelves stocked with pretty, colorful hardback books, people are going to look and see what you've picked. Thackeray's Vanity Fair next to Susan Powter's Stop The Insanity! ruins the illusion.
3) Wine in a Water Glass: What's the point of buying a nice glass of wine if its going to be served in a water glass/mason jar/beer mug, getting progressively warmer from the heat of your hand?
2) Stools: If you're a sushi joint, a ramen bar, or McDonald's, stools are fine. But any dining experience lasting over 45 minutes is going to get uncomfortable. People want chairs with backs that allow their feet to touch the ground.
1) Mirrors That Make You Watch Yourself Eat: If for any reason you are seated directly across from a mirror that forces you to look at yourself shoveling food into your mouth, you are not going to enjoy your dinner, or the company of your dining companion. There is no exception to this rule.