Skip the Tablecloths. Linens are great for banquets, weddings and other catered events. But using them in a restaurant dining room can be costly. Regular cleaning, pressing and replacement costs quickly add up. Plus, linen tablecloths can send the wrong message to potential customers. They may think your establishment is too fancy or too expensive for their budget and move on to a place they feel more comfortable.
Instead Try: Linen napkins can add a simple sense of formality without over doing it. Roll silverware inside the napkin for an easy place setting. Linen napkins can be washed and dried in-house, saving you on cleaning bills. You could also try paper tablecloths, which are also great for kids to color on while they wait for dinner.
Create Your Own Menus. Instead of sending your menus to a professional printer and having them laminated, purchase simple menu jackets and create your menu with your PC and printer. There are so many options available with standard publishing software, you can create a customized menu that will fit in with your restaurant design at a fraction of the price of having them done professionally.
An even cheaper idea: Use kids drawings for the front and backs of menus. Ask kid customers to draw their version of your restaurant and viola! Instant art that will be as unique as your restaurant concept.
Consider a Casual Dress Code. Wait staff uniforms are just as much a part of your restaurant design as the furniture or artwork. A waiter in a white shirt and tie sends a very different vibe than a server in a t-shirt and jeans. Instead of investing in heavy-duty button down shirts with an embroidered logo, try a t-shirt, which can cost a great deal less, especially when you are buying in bulk. A bonus of the staff wearing tee shirts is that you can sell them to customers as well.
An even cheaper idea: Having staff dress in their own clothes is the cheapest uniform, requiring no investment from you, whatsoever.
Use Your Imagination. One of my favorite restaurants has a Mona Lisa painted on the wall in their ladies room. In the men’s room there is a wall mural of Polaroid’s featuring urinals from around the world. Neither of these decorations put too big of dent in the owners pockets. When planning your restaurant design, don’t be afraid to do something unique. If thinking up cool restaurant bathroom designs isn’t your strong point, ask some creative friends for ideas.
A couple of cool restaurant design tricks: Another bathroom favorite is a vintage prom dress stapled to a door, lets you know that it’s the ladies room. Or how about an old gasoline pump from the 1950’s perched on a ledge overlooking the dining room?