By Angelique Praat

What am I?

It’s a compelling existential question. And one that you’ll need to answer for your café, restaurant or bar.

Even before they enter, potential customers will be assessing what they see, hear and smell to build their expectations about what will turn up on their plate or in their glass. You don’t want to disappoint. You want them to come in and come back and recommend you to their friends.

How do you nail this question and deliver on the answer?

Work with your architect.

You might come with years of experience in hospitality and have a clear idea of what you want to create. You might be embarking on your first hospitality development.  Whatever camp you’re in, your architect can help you hone your ideas to produce a compelling brief. Here’s a few tools to get you started suggested by Wellington-based hospitality architects, Architecture HDT.

Visit the competition. Nothing like being there. Go to places that are similar to what you want to create and take note. What is it that you like or don’t like? Colours, textures, furnishings, lighting, tiles, artwork, high ceilings, low ceilings?  Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on what it is. Going to places that you don’t like might clear the fog. Need more help? Take your architect with you.

The Go-Along. With an eye to design elements, visiting places with your architect might be just the ticket for creating that space that says YOU. There are worse ways to spend your time than eating and drinking your way around establishments in convivial company.  Choose an architect you like.

Mood boards. Used by many creative professions, mood boards are a collage of your ideas. Words, magazine cut-outs, paint samples, fabric – anything goes on a mood board. The mood board gives an impression of what you’re reaching for.  If you’re thinking about your next development, start collecting now.

Matrices. If analysis is more your thing, matrices can help you pin down the must-have and nice-to-haves for your establishment. Your architect can provide you with a range of criteria to think about. For example, the age of your clients, the drinks you’ll serve, food style, music, turnover, TV or not TV. On your own, or together, you can answer and prioritise your way to a clear statement of what you want to achieve.  The results will inform your design brief.

Your architect can sweeten your journey from their pantry of ideas. They can analyse what you love and synthesise these elements into something unique that captures the essence of your vision.


Thanks to Mike Davies from Architecture HDT for his help with this article.