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9 restaurant looks we’re loving right now | By design

A well-designed restaurant is one of the most critical factors determining whether or not your restaurant will be a success.

By Chloe Chaplin

People come to your restaurant for the food, but they’ll come back for the experience, and the way your restaurant’s designed has a big part to play in this. There are so many factors that impact the quality of your restaurant’s design, and it can be overwhelming, but there are definitely some things that separate the good restaurants from the great ones.

Nail your layout

Think carefully about table placement (there should be no ‘bad’ tables!) and ease of access for servers and customers.

Get lit

The way a space is lit can make or break the ambience, so it’s important that this decision is made thoughtfully (and probably by an interiors expert). Paying attention to the light fittings themselves is also important – they can really enhance the look of the space.

Sit down and eat up

Seats are not just functional, they’re also a big part of your restaurant’s design, so choose wisely. Think about unique, unexpected choices to add an interesting twist your space, but never sacrifice comfort. No one wants to sit on an uncomfortable chair!

Royal flush

Think you can get away with a basic loo? You can’t. Sorry. Don’t let your bathroom be your downfall. Make sure to extend the restaurant design through the restrooms also, and add little luxury touches to enhance your customers’ experience.

Wow ‘em

At the end of the day, you want your customers to be blown away by your space, so adding a bit of wow factor to your design will make the experience memorable.

Keen for some design inspo? We’ve rounded up nine restaurants we’re loving looking at right now.


Gazi, Melbourne

Image credit: Mark Ashkanasy

Greek street food fave, Gazi, located smack bang in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, became a style icon the second it opened its doors. From the amazing red-lit entrance, to its now-famous stalactite ceiling (made from upside-down terracotta pots), Gazi has wow-factor in spades.


Ester, Sydney

Image credit: Peter Bennetts

Chippendale darling, Ester has lots going for it and design is certainly no exception. The small-ish space (built on the raised floor of an old loading dock), fit out with stunning wet-dash walls and exposed brick, feels warm and inviting. Add to that the huge wood-fired oven, subtle glowy lighting, and electric blue bathroom, and it’s hard to deny Ester’s all-round appeal.


Chinese Tuxedo, New York

Image credit: W Magazine

Before we get to what’s inside at NYC’s Chinese Tuxedo, let’s talk about the entrance. Walk down a small lane and through a nondescript doorway and bar and then head downstairs into the elaborate dining room. It’s practically theatre. Which is fitting because the restaurant itself is an opera house and theatre that’s been transformed into a luxe setting featuring exposed brick and pipes, oversized leather booths, hanging lights, mirrors, candles… it’s not understated, that’s for sure.


Fleet, Brunswick Heads

Image credit: Qantas Insider


Now this is how you do a small restaurant! With only 22 seats (eight of which are outside), Fleet, in Brunswick Heads, shows once and for all that size doesn’t matter. The hero of the restaurant’s design has to be its solid concrete table-cum-bar-cum-counter-cum-kitchen prep space, surrounded by gorgeous oak stools. Add to that beautiful, delicate lighting and the perfect bar, and you can why it’s getting rave reviews.

Tartine Manufactory, San Francisco

Image credit: Surface

From the open-plan design, to the incredible wooden bar and huge white windows, letting in all the natural light, Tartine Manufactory is a lesson in striking simplicity.


The Spaniard, New York City

Image credit: Surface

The unlikely merging of styles in this cocktail bar/Irish pub in Manhattan, shows that sometimes there’s nothing more appealing than not taking yourself too seriously. The Spaniard has kept its bones – the steel and brick ceiling is original – and brought them to life with lively touches such as the mix-and-match bar stools and lush green banquettes.


Septime, Paris

Image credit: F. Flohic

An old furniture workshop made into a luxe boho dream. The killer lighting and decor at Septime, give the restaurant a warm, rustic feel and the clever use of mirrors adds depth to the space. And that curved staircase – wow!


Franklin, Hobart

Image credit: Core Collective

One of Tassie’s hottest restaurant properties, Franklin just gets it when it comes to design, and, well, everything. Transformed from its former life as a Ford showroom, Franklin has the industrial-minimal-polished balance down pat. In terms of highlights, it’s hard to go past the huge concrete bar in the centre of the space, that is, until you spot the full-width glass pivoting wall at the back, that opens to an entertaining area.


Berners Tavern, London

Image credit: Homes & Property

There’s a few minimalist design options on this list, so if that’s starting to bore you, you’re in luck. Berners Tavern in London is what you might describe as maximalist. Larger than life. The walls are decorated with hundreds of framed artworks and the ceilings boast a number of incredible chandeliers. An excellent example of a restaurant’s personality being brought to life through its design.