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How Restaurant Ambiance Influences Dining

Updated: Aug 31

Strong Water Anaheim interior. Credit: Photo courtesy of Carla Blumenkrantz Photography

Recently I began reading a new hardcover called “Unreasonable Hospitality” by Will Guidara (the former co-owner of acclaimed Eleven Madison Park in New York City) that is in line with how I perceive the value of service. One particular excerpt expresses the importance of ambiance and felt pertinent to my thoughts about it when going out to a restaurant.

“The duck I’d eaten at that dinner with my dad at the Four Seasons had been delicious, but it was part of a much bigger picture – the spectacular room, the artwork, the lighting, the floral arrangements, the tablecloths, the silverware, the staff’s crisp uniforms – and the way the team had made twelve-year-old me feel like the most important person in the room. That combination had created an atmosphere of pure magic. The food was part of that magic, but it wasn’t everything.” – Will Guidara

As I discussed in a YouTube video and touched upon in a recent column, while food quality is the first thing I rate an experience on, I consider ambiance the next attribute that makes an impact on my meal. Those details that Guidara notices in addition to the service collectively contribute to the opinion one forms about dining out.

When I think about ambiance, I’m referring to the non-food factors that influence my mood. Is the room dark and moody or light and soothing? Are the chairs comfortable? How detail-oriented is the design? As for hole-in-the-wall spots, the very fact that they are small spaces already sends a message to customers that they don’t have much square footage to influence you; but when they do it’s a bonus.

Brick-and-mortars I covered are a combination of newer and established places that invest as much time and consideration into their overall appearance as the quality of their food and beverage program.

This full story can be accessed for free in its entirety at Voice of OC.

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