Outdoor Restaurant Lighting

Jun 19, 2019

One of the most exciting parts about warmer weather is outdoor dining. Whether your restaurant is located where it’s pleasant year-round, or somewhere foodies must wait out the winter for an outdoor dining experience, outdoor restaurant lighting is critical.

Most people know that lighting plays a major role in the overall feeling of a space. Bright, blue lights communicate a professional, clean atmosphere. Warm, dim lights create drama or romance. Industrial restaurant lighting feels modern and welcoming. Your lighting choices have a direct impact on guests’ impressions of your restaurant.

The importance of intentional restaurant lighting is too often forgotten when it comes to outdoor spaces. Lackluster lighting for outdoor dining areas can leave guests, without quite understanding why, feeling “meh” about their meal—no matter how delicious their food was.

Great lighting at an outdoor table, however, can make guests want to stay longer, and leaves them content and satisfied when the leave. They’ll remember their experience fondly, and likely return for more.

Create Mood for a Better Dining Experience

You probably have a vision for the type of restaurant you want to own or manage. You know what kind of food you serve, what kind of guests filter in and out each day, and what kind of atmosphere they should experience while they’re there.

While that atmosphere may vary from restaurant to restaurant, the way you create it is generally the same. Of course, the furniture and decor will play a role—but it can’t finish the job alone. The right lighting will compliment the entire restaurant, creating a mood that transforms the functional task of eating into an unforgettable experience.

Choosing Your Restaurant Lighting Design

If your restaurant is open for multiple meals—breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, or all three—you’ll want to vary the mood accordingly. Make sure your lighting options are flexible enough to keep up with the changing times of day by using dimmable lights and having more than one layer to your lighting scheme.

Breakfast Lighting

For a breakfast restaurant, guests come in to wake up and prepare for the day. Bright lighting goes great with early morning caffeine! Bright lighting doesn’t have to be harsh, though. In the morning, natural light is plentiful—use it to your advantage! Most likely, on days where guests want to eat outside, you won’t need additional lighting in your outdoor dining room.

Brunch and Lunch Lighting

Lunch typically requires neither bright nor dim lighting. This middle-of-the-day meal feels most natural with middle-of-the-road lighting. For an outdoor seating area, work with natural light, soft lanterns or string lights, or even shades or curtains to provide a soft, medium-level of light.

Dinner Lighting

For most restaurants, dinner lighting is dim, relaxing, and warm. If guests feel comfortable in your space, they’re more likely to stay longer and order after-dinner drinks and desserts. Once the sun sets, you can create a warm feeling with glowy string lights, lanterns, or even hanging pendants if you have the appropriate wiring.

In general, your restaurant lighting should grow dimmer as the day goes on.

Of course, if your restaurant has a specific theme, you’ll want to tailor your lighting design to suit its style.

For example—you may seat a lot of guests for dinner, but maybe they are mostly families. In that case, a slightly brighter lighting scheme will serve your guests more appropriately than a dim, romantic dinner scheme.

Our biggest piece of advice? Know your audience!

Types of Outdoor Lighting to Improve Your Restaurant

Properly layered lighting schemes include all three main types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent lighting.

Ambient lighting provides general lighting for a space, allowing people to see without strain. In an outdoor restaurant space, this light can be provided by natural light or overhead fixtures, like string lights.

Task lighting is highly specific light that makes certain functions possible, like a reading lamp next to a reading chair, or a desk lamp in an office. For your restaurant, task lighting will be important so that guests can read their menus, and so hosts and hostesses can see important items at their stand.

Accent lighting lets you create depth and intrigue in your space by drawing attention to key focal points. For example, on an outdoor patio, a focal point could be an architectural feature on the outside of your restaurant, a water feature, or even the back of an outdoor bar. Landscape lighting is also included in this category—it lights foliage the way indoor accent lighting would light a painting.

When you include all three types of lighting in your space, the difference is noticeable. It will feel more comfortable for both your staff and your guests—meaning better service and more positive Yelp reviews!

Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Every Mood

String lights in outdoor seating areas are a popular choice for a reason. LED edison bulbs strung overhead lend a timeless look that will make guests excited to spend time at your restaurant.

A candle on every table creates romance and atmosphere, and provides a touch of light to make menus easier to read—especially at night. Outdoors, it can be a bit difficult to deal with an open flame. Opt for electric tea lights or candle-style light bulb to achieve the same effect without the frustration.

Natural materials are having a major moment in interior design, but they feel even more at home outdoors. Wicker, bamboo, and rattan light fixtures maximize the outdoor dining experience and give off a comfortable, warm glow.

If you’re going for more drama or a formal, upscale feeling, look into hanging a few dramatic chandeliers throughout your outdoor space. Candle-style bulbs will look natural without blowing out in the wind.

If you want a more subtle lighting scheme, install track lighting along the outside of your restaurant and in patio ceilings. The fixtures will easily recede into the background, but with the right light bulbs, you can still create effective and warm ambient light.

The Best Light Bulbs for Restaurants

TCP Lighting can help you choose the best lighting for your restaurant space. You can count on us through every step of the process, from a design consultation to a post-project follow-up.

Contact us or get an online quote to take the next step toward beautiful restaurant lighting that keeps guests coming back for more.

Can we add a call to action to wrap this up? Something along the lines of how TCP can help restaurant owners and lighting designers choose the best lighting to fit their space?

Ask us!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Related Articles

Types of Horticulture Lighting Offered by TCP Lighting

Types of Horticulture Lighting Offered by TCP Lighting

Want bigger, bushier, healthier plants at home? Looking for something more energy efficient to replace the outdated metal halide, high-pressure sodium or fluorescent tube grow light you’ve been using? TCP has your back! Our high-efficiency horticulture LED grow lights...

How to Improve Your Mood with Accents Ceiling Lighting by TCP

How to Improve Your Mood with Accents Ceiling Lighting by TCP

META TITLE: Impact of Lighting Accents on Mood - Aesthetic Psychology | Lighting and Design How to Improve Your Mood with Accents Ceiling Lighting by TCP Want to know the one design detail that lifts mood more than any other? You guessed it – lighting! The...

Brighten Up Your Workplace with Anew Lighting From TCP

Brighten Up Your Workplace with Anew Lighting From TCP

Now is a great time to refresh your company’s lighting with TCP Lighting. This year brings even more motivation than in past years, as incandescent bulbs have been banned from manufacture by the federal government. Effective August of last year, this ban is focused on...

Simplify Your Lighting Project with TCP

We’ll work with you from start to finish to bring your lighting ideas to life.

Online Quote

Pin It on Pinterest