The Evolution of Restaurant Design Trends Over Time

Marianne Bard
Marianne Bard
- 6 min read

People have been dining out for millenia. Back in the day, it was common to get snacks on city streets or enjoy meals at roadside stands. Since then, culinary tastes have changed as much as eateries. Restaurant design trends propelled by pop culture are unveiling styles that have never existed before.

Today, business owners envisage exquisite indoor and outdoor design concepts for their eateries. As a sign making company with numerous projects involving custom business signs, we’ve compiled a list of popular trends for restaurants.

Lots of old restaurant decor trends continue to be popular for eateries even today. These elements are still in fashion, whether in modified or original form.

1. Herculite Entrance Doors

Floor-to-ceiling or “Herculite” entrance doors are one of the oldest restaurant decor trends. They’re a great marketing tool for making a grand impression. People can glance your way from the sidewalk and get an idea of what to expect once inside. These doors are more effective when they’re made of glass. Transparent materials optimize visibility and allow sunlight to flood into the building.

Classic restaurant design trend with floor-to-ceiling Herculite glass doors and branded display

Herculite doors aren’t the only solution for dining establishments. Today, we can also see many restaurants and cafes with stone walls and perimeters. This type of design keeps the indoor space private and provides a facade for installing impressive restaurant signs.

Stone wall restaurant design trend with the brand name facade display

2. Restaurant Canopies

Canopies are another classic component of exterior restaurant decor trends. These branded shade structures often have colored or striped designs. They’re known to add emphasis to the walls of a building. Aside from decorative purposes, canopies also protect the environment from excessive sun and other weather elements. Along with ornate exterior signage, they grant an exquisite look for cafe patios.

Canopy restaurant design trend with red and white striped design and brand name display

The role of shade structures has evolved over time. Many restaurants use large-scale ones with a distinct style to protect their outdoor dining space. They can keep the canopies old-fashioned or update them to reflect a more current look.

3. Restaurant Name and Logo Designs

Metal channel letters were a fundamental feature for showing off the restaurant’s name in the past. Business owners installed these brand elements on walls or behind glass doors. Logos and brand names with Straight Line and Ribbon fonts have been used for a long time. They fall into the category of timeless restaurant decor trends.

Retro restaurant decor trend with a free-styled restaurant brand name display

Backlit channel letters have come to replace basic logos and names. They can promote restaurants all day and night. Nowadays, logo signs are more often made of lightweight materials. They can be wall-mounted, free-standing or printed on canopies. Advanced technologies have allowed the creation of both non-illuminated and light up signs. They can be placed anywhere on the building with an endless variety of designs.

Branded restaurant design trend with the brand name and logo displays

4. Advertising Posters

Square and rectangle posters have always been a standard tool for advertising. Historically, restaurant owners would attach paper posters to neighborhood walls to make announcements about menu updates or upcoming events. That said, even posters that once rocked the world have transformed with recent developments in technology.

Retro advertising poster as an old restaurant design trend

Full-cover wall and window decals have replaced simple paper posters. Adhesives with creative colors and shapes are the new standard in restaurant decor trends. They do a fabulous job of outlining illustrations and attracting attention.

New restaurant design trend with a large advertising poster

5. Interior Decor

Restaurants are more than places for eating food. They’re also places for spending quality time. Restaurant interior design trends are vital because they set the mood and atmosphere for patrons. A good restaurant interior has to stand out and show character. Whether it’s ornamental features, simple furnishing or exquisite architecture, make your interior count.

Oftentimes, less is more in restaurant interior design. Walls painted with soothing colors are common in many establishments. They can be accentuated with paintings or photographs from local artists. People like visiting places where they can admire beautiful pictures, be it of their birthplace or faraway lands. Canvas prints and acrylic signs are good products for portraying visuals of any style.

Cityscape restaurant interior design trend with a large picture of Golden Gates Bridge

New restaurant design trends have emerged with time. Successful eateries must create an exceptional dining experience for their customers. The best way to do this is by incorporating the latest trends in restaurant design.

Restaurant interior design trends have helped many eateries transform their outdated establishments. Nowadays, people love spending time in relaxing places with unique furnishings. Below are the most widespread examples.

1. Open Bars and Kitchens

Open-concept kitchens and bars have gained popularity in recent years. Restaurant critics say that the best food is found where customers can watch the chefs cook their dishes. Modern restaurant interior design trends don’t hide their kitchens and bars. Today, almost all top restaurants exhibit them. The kitchen is the most dynamic part of the restaurant. Therefore, it makes sense that it should be part of the interior design.

Open-concept new restaurant design trend for kitchens and bars

Restaurants with a show-all attitude usually have a highly professional kitchen staff. Cooks and waiters pay attention to their process, gestures, organization, cleanliness and communication. They train to make their craft presentable to customers.

2. Fifth Wall Design

The ceiling in a restaurant, also known as the fifth wall, isn’t just for lighting anymore. The concept is one of the new restaurant design trends spreading like wildfire. It gives designers a chance to portray whatever comes to mind on a seemingly boundless surface. Fifth walls can be adorned with various hanging interior signs. Chandeliers, light strings, ornamental wall decals and greenery also create an ambiance of novelty and pizzazz.

Fifth wall restaurant interior design trend wooden crates, greens and light bulbs

Designers use all of their creativity and imagination to decorate ceilings. Hanging decorations and contrasting colors make the ceiling look bright and envelop the room in liveliness.

Outdoor design features make up a significant portion of new restaurant design trends. High rise signs and facade decorations are the first thing people notice. Large displays are key but there are other popular tools to spotlight a location. 

1. Sustainable Furniture and Decor

Eco furniture tops the list of new restaurant design trends. Businesses that use sustainable furnishings and decorative items are appreciated by conscious consumers. Metal and wooden elements are in high demand because of this.

Designers recommend furniture made of renewable materials such as bamboo for a chic and sustainable touch. Fashionable restaurants also decorate with flowers and plants to make things look and feel more natural. The arrangements can be placed on tables and floors or hung from walls.

Sustainable restaurant design trend with with wooden and bamboo furniture and decorative items

Check out our blog on modern restaurant design to get more ideas on how to liven up your eatery.

2. Traditional and Contemporary Menus

Menu books have always been a popular way to display food to customers. Many eateries curate appetizing and professionally shot photos of their dishes into stylish menus to this day.

We can also find more high-tech menus that substitute traditional ones now. Many places illustrate their main dishes on custom decals for windows and doors. Menus on light box signs are another catchy way to promote to passersby at all hours of the day and night. Podium-mounted and illuminated menus are the latest trends in restaurant design. They allow outdoor diners and passersby to see the menu without having to ask the waiter.

Outdoor restaurant decor trend with a light-up menu stand at the porch

3. Outdoor Dining Spaces

Outdoor dining areas are beloved by many. This type of arrangement makes it easy to enjoy good weather and delicious food at the same time. Patio dining spaces have gotten especially popular in post-quarantine life. Open-air and spaced-out seating creates a safe and relaxed atmosphere for patrons.

Outdoor restaurant decor trend with sustainable furniture and plants surrounding the area

Restaurants shelter their outdoor seating with large canopies or patio umbrellas. They also surround the area with lots of greenery. To get rid of pesky insects, aromatic herbs like basil, lavender and mint go a long way. These fragrant plants fill the air with pleasant scents while keeping bugs at bay.

Food has brought people together since the dawn of time. That hasn’t changed in the current era. Going out to fashionable restaurants is a lifestyle for millions of people. Integrate these design trends and make your eatery the highlight of their day.

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