The Right Lighting For Your Restaurant

You will probably need varying levels of lighting in your restaurant. Lighting, can make a dramatic impact on the tone of the restaurant. Is the lighting bright and illuminating or dark and depressing?

Breakfast: lots of light is needed so that customers can read the morning newspapers while enjoying their coffee and/or breakfast.

Lunch: If you are a fast food restaurant, a moderate level of lighting will help to create a fast turnover of customers, especially needed for lunch rushes.

Dinner: The dinner hour requires a low intensity of light to create an intimate and leisurely atmosphere.

Fast Food Establishments - Use bright lights to attract customers and to signify a place bustling with activity and very fast service.

Family dining Establishments - well lit to give the impression of fast service with decorative fixtures to create a homey atmosphere.

Fine dining - requires a low intensity of light to create an intimate and leisurely atmosphere and imply a high quality me al. Low levels of lighting are generally associated with higher prices and a high quality of service. Too dark and customers can't see and enjoy the appearance of the masterpieces your Chefs have created and could have difficulty reading their menus. Also, you need to have enough light so that your staff and customers don't trip or fall.

Themed Restaurants - Use decorative lighting relative to your theme and mood to create an atmosphere of fun and excitement.

Kitchen - This area should be well lit to prevent accidents, increase efficiency, facilitate quality control and prevent waste. Fluorescent light fixtures are recommended because of their efficiency and cool operating temperatures.

Types of Lighting

Light can affect a customer's appearance. A light source at or slightly above eye level is most complimentary to the face. Strong overhead lights at sharp angles can accentuate skin wrinkles and deep shadows around the eyes. Table lamps and candles provide a complementary light source if glare is prevented.

Up lights - shine upward casting pools of light on the surface above them and when placed on the floor, behind plants, and in corners, add to the atmosphere by creating dramatic shadows.

Down lights - positioned to cast a circle of light on the floor, table, or any surface below, and can be recessed into the ceiling, ceiling mounted, or hidden behind ceiling beams or dividers. They can also highlight an entrance area, cashier's station, individual dining room tables, flower arrangements, or the salad bar.

Spotlights -These are used as accent lighting.

Exterior Lighting

Exterior lighting - The outside lights often make the first impression your customers have of your restaurant and they can attract customers passing by into your establishment

Lighted Signs, architectural highlights, entrance ways, and parking areas need to be well lit. Outside lighting should provide safety by illuminating steps, sidewalks, and other hazards and relay a sense of security.


Lighting layout calculator - Estimate the number of fixtures needed to light
an area for a specified light level.

Watts per square food estimator -


Dim and Dimmer-Or why dining, unlike dancing and other intimate acts, is not necessarily better performed in the dark ( By Christina Waters) - Chandeliers, dimmers, down lights,
wall sconces, emergency lights, etc.