To have a properly illuminated cafeteria, a balanced lighting plan is needed. We recommend adding ambient, task, and accent lighting, since each type will serve a different purpose.
- Ambient lighting will be the main source of light in the room that is provided from either natural light or from overhead lighting fixtures. This allows customers to see and move around easily and comfortably.
- Task lighting will allow your staff members and customers to perform functions that require a more concentrated light source, such as reading a menu or cooking. This can be in the form of overhead lamps, such as bright LED lights in your kitchen, or a small table lamps on your tables and hostess stand.
- Accent lighting will help your space feel more relaxed and inviting. Typically, this is used to construct focal points around your front-of-house area. This can be achieved by using light to highlight pieces of artwork or menu boards, or by using colorful lighting behind a bar or water fixture.
Different lighting levels can be used to set the mood of your cafeteria. This is very important, since it can mean customers will either be drawn into your establishment or put off by it simply because of your lighting choices.
- Low lighting will help create a relaxed and romantic environment, and it will help encourage customers to stay longer. For example, envision a candle lit dinner at a former restaurant. These settings typically have overhead fixtures with dimmers along with various accent lighting fixtures. The low lighting levels create more intimacy, whereas sections with brighter light, like those over dining tables, allow customers to feel like they're more isolated from other guests.
- Bright lighting is more stimulating than low lighting. This means your customers will be wide awake and alert. Implementing bright lighting is ideal for cafeterias. This lighting can be achieved with large windows or with bright overhead LED light fixtures.
It's also important to keep in mind that lighting needs will change throughout the day. So, you need to determine the kind of mood you want. For example, if most of your business is done during the morning hours, you wouldn't need the same type of lighting that would be required during the evening hours.
There are multiple types of lighting to choose from when setting up your cafeteria. Also, you will need to light the various areas of your establishment differently to account for time of day and pre-existing light.
- Natural lighting is not only a bright way to light up your cafeteria, it's also free! You can use this to your benefit by taking advantage of tall windows, doors with large glass panels, and skylights, if you're able to. We recommend situating seating areas and tables around the perimeter of your cafeteria by windows, but be mindful not to place customers directly beside doors, as cold breezes or heavy foot traffic could make them uncomfortable.
- LED fixtures are the easiest types of lighting to control. They can be used in every type of cafeteria setting, and can include overhead flat panels, high bays, recessed lighting, strip lights, and wrap fixtures that you can control and adapt for your business.
Lighting is an extremely important part of cafeteria design. From the different types of lighting the proper use of natural light to the latest LED technology, there's a lot of factors to take into account. So whether you're trying to set the right mood or just ensure your cafeteria is adequately illuminated, lighting can make all the difference.