Best Lighting for Restaurants
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Best Lighting for Restaurants


With the holiday season approaching, restaurant owners and diners alike say goodbye to outdoor seating. This can unfortunately mean a drop in sales, since restaurants have to minimize capacity and keep customers indoors. Not to mention it’s cold out, so people are less likely to go out to eat. 

Before you run out and buy the most expensive lighting you can find, it’s important to understand that there is a rhyme and reason to restaurant lighting. As a business owner, choosing the correct lighting can help you not only keep your customer base but generate more revenue. Let’s look at the psychology of restaurant lighting and help you upgrade for the holidays. 


Types of Restaurant Lighting 

If you own a restaurant, it’s important to know what the three main types of lighting are. Combining all three will help you create the perfect lighting upgrade to your restaurant. 

Ambient Lighting 

Ambient lighting is also known as general lighting in a restaurant. This lighting sets the tone for the rest of the establishment. Your ambient lighting can make or break the restaurant, so it’s important to choose wisely. For example, many upscale restaurants choose dim lighting to create an intimate vibe. This type of lighting is also great for cocktail bars, as well. 

If you’re looking to upgrade your restaurant’s ambient lighting, modern chandeliers are a unique and elegant way to spruce up the atmosphere. 

Task Lighting 

As the name suggests, task lighting serves a function. This is the type of lighting you have in your kitchen to help your staff, or above tables so guests can read the menu. It’s important to note the difference between ambient and task lighting here. 

You will still have ambient lighting in the dining room, but if you’ve chosen a low lighting setting, task lighting is necessary. These can be small bulbs above the tables, so you don’t have guests tempted to take their phone flashlights out to read the fine print. 

Accent Lighting

This type of lighting is going to accompany your ambient and task lighting throughout the restaurant. Think about the artwork on the walls. The type of lighting you’d use to make sure they’re showcased dramatically is accent lighting.

We like the Bailey Nordic Chandelier. This chandelier is perfect for a dining space to give guests lighting without being too harsh, along with a sense of style. Accent lighting can turn your space from a dimly lit bar to a swanky speakeasy. 


The Psychology of Restaurant Lighting 

When it comes to lighting a restaurant, there are many moving parts. One wrong move with your lighting, and potential customers may turn around and walk out the door. For instance, the lighting that works well for a high end steak house isn’t going to work for a counter service BBQ shop. The time of day is also a big factor that should be considered when it comes to lighting.



Using low lighting in a restaurant will create an intimate setting that’s relaxing and romantic. This type of lighting is generally used at dinner spots where meals are coursed out slowly. Customers can take their time and soak in the atmosphere while not feeling rushed. 

Keep in mind that when you’re choosing low-lighting, dimmer switches are a must. That way, you can adjust accordingly to natural light as well as any accent lighting. You’ll also need to use task lighting so your employees and guests can see what they’re doing. 

This type of lighting will encourage a mood that has customers feeling upscale and fancy. 

Bright Lighting 

Bright lighting is usually found in restaurants with a fast pace. Think of places with a line for counter service, or fast turnover times. The bright light will keep energy high, and get rid of the relaxed feeling the dim lights bring. Think about if you’ve ever been in a dark bar and they turn on the lights, that’s your sign to get out of there. The same rule applies here if you’re running a fast-casual restaurant. 

That doesn’t mean bright lights don’t have a place in upscale dining. If your restaurant is open for lunch, using bright lights with natural lighting keeps the energy high for a midday crowd. 

Another item to note is that when fast food restaurants use bright fluorescent lighting, it can encourage customers to eat more


Creating the Perfect Holiday Atmosphere by Upgrading Your Restaurant Lighting 

Now that we know all about why lighting is so important, it’s time to spruce up your restaurant. Providing the right lighting is all about having a plan and knowing what kind of customers you want to attract. Here are some tips for upgrading your restaurant’s lighting before the holidays. 

Pick a Theme 

A theme is always important, especially in a restaurant. Choosing a theme will help you to have consistent lighting throughout your business. Many upscale restaurants go for either a rustic look or minimalistic and modern. It’s up to you and what you want the place to convey! Having a theme can help you narrow down the overwhelming amount of lighting choices there are on the market. 

Be Functional 

While you want your lighting to make a lasting impression and keep the guests coming back, it’s important to be functional. A low-lighting dining room is sexy and great, but if it’s too dark it can cause problems. Your guests won’t be able to read your menus, and it could cause problems for the staff navigating the floor. 

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