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Restaurant design trends to watch in 2022

Booked-themed restaurants. Picture: Bard & Minstrel

Booked-themed restaurants. Picture: Bard & Minstrel

Published Nov 27, 2021


It is no secret that the restaurant industry had to pivot in a major way over the past 20 months.

From the popularity of outdoor dining to the convenience of curbside pick-up, eateries and dining establishments had to make quick business decisions to continue operating.

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Some of the pivots evolved into trends that will probably stick around for the foreseeable future. To provide more insight into what is shifting within the restaurant atmosphere, we did our research. Below are the spearheading restaurant furniture, design and decor trends that are reshaping our future experiences.

Umhlanga restaurant, Dante.

Mix-matched furniture

This is an interesting restaurant furniture trend because it might sound like something that would push customers away. However, when executed properly, it can draw them in. Mixing and matching restaurant tables and chairs can bring in that homely feel. It essentially sends visual cues that your restaurant is not a cookie-cutter chain, but rather a thoughtfully, handcrafted place.

Bard & Minstrel is uMhlanga, Durban, and is the perfect corner of the world for anyone looking to catch up with a friend or finish work.

Booked-themed restaurants

Booked-themed restaurants are popping up everywhere. They feature bookish elements in design and menu, from dishes named after characters to foods described in your favourite books. The dining establishments are perfect for readers who have been tempted by literary cookbooks but don’t feel confident enough to make the dishes themselves.

I was impressed when I came across one such restaurant, Bard & Minstrel. Bard & Minstrel is uMhlanga, Durban, and is the perfect corner of the world for anyone looking to catch up with a friend or finish work, or simply seeking a space to breathe. You have the opportunity to enjoy the luxurious quality of Assouline books and eat at the French and Brasserie-inspired café.

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Drive-thru innovations

Next year is expected to bring greater innovations in drive-thru design than ever before. Experts reveal that instead of using a singular drive-thru lane, more locations will be implementing multiple lanes with digital menu boards. Some menu boards are being programmed for contactless payment as well.

After payment is made, cars are directed to numbered parking spots to await the delivery of their food out of the line. The waiting areas help reduce congestion during peak times.

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Open kitchen floor plans

Sure, the open-floor concept has been a food transparency trend for some time. However, it is branching into another role, and that is opening up and connecting the kitchen area to link all the stages of food preparation together.

The restaurant design trend is a way for customers to feel the strong presence of the kitchen and sets a high tone and standard for a kitchen area. This, in turn, builds more confidence in diners that they are eating from a quality place. Plus, they get to watch their food being prepared, which can raise anticipation and excitement.

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Rooftop dining

Many customers enjoy dining outside, and the demand for outdoor dining has increased as a result of the coronavirus.

With multiple-storey, high-rise buildings and limited outdoor space in big cities, rooftop dining experiences are becoming popular. Whether the temperature is warm or cold, rooftop bars and restaurants are making adjustments so that customers can dine year-round.

Plants and umbrellas liven up rooftop spaces in summer, while blankets, fireplaces and outdoor patio heaters make a rooftop a cosy space during winter. Rooftop dining offers beautiful views and elevates experiences that can draw more people to your restaurant.

This article first appeared in Saturday Insider, Nov 27, 2021