There are hundreds of thousands of restaurants operating in the country at any moment, and that makes entering this niche a bit of a challenge for those that have not done so already. Setting your restaurant apart can be really difficult, mainly because anything that you might think of has likely already been done before. That said, there is still a lot of room in this undoubtedly saturated market for aspiring restaurateurs as long as they are willing to think outside of the box. A relatively easy way to differentiate your restaurant and make it stand out in the crowd is by offering an ethnically diverse menu.
Patrons and restaurants are getting tired of eating the same cuisines regularly, and that gives new restaurateurs a chance to break into the industry. The world has countless culinary traditions, but many of them have not yet made their way to mainstream restaurant cultures in this country. There was a time when Ethiopian food was considered really unique and interesting, as was Thai food, so there’s nothing stopping you from taking matters further by offering Congolese cuisine or Mongolian food options.
This might impact your choices for furniture, though, because you can’t use standard western restaurant tables if you’re serving cuisine sourced from a far flung locale. It’s also important to not get overexcited in your pursuit of establishing a unique restaurant. Having some tables is always useful, of course, but you should mix things up by offering a bunch of other alternatives that can make the dining experience seem a bit different from what customers have gotten used to.
A somewhat experimental furniture layout that you could try is to make the tables themselves the spots where customers would sit to eat their food. This might seem odd at first, but it is common practice in several nations in the world. South Asian people in particular tend to sit cross legged during meals, and restaurants in the Subcontinent often don’t have any chairs at all! Instead, they have extremely sturdy tables that are capable of withstanding the weight of eight to ten people. Restaurant patrons sit on these elevated platforms to enjoy a more comfortable experience as they enjoy their order.
You can also use this mindset to change up your chair choices in a few ways. Taking things a step further by adding some plush and soft cushions to these chairs can make them more in line with some East Asian restaurant trends. Comfort is becoming one of the easiest ways to make coming to your restaurant worthwhile for curious customers, and eateries in East Asia including countries like Japan and Taiwan are at the very forefront of this trend.
We must also realize that ethnic cuisine does not have to be a gimmick. You can pair ethnically unique dishes with modern and minimalist furniture as well, which is something that can make the food stand out on its own. A major thing to remember when buying furniture is that it’s not just the customer experience at that moment that’s being impacted. Your customers would also take pictures during their night out, and the furniture they are seated on will be in the background. If someone that looks at the pictures feels like the furniture is subpar, this can lead to a reduction in your customer flow.
This is why opting for consistency is so important. You can choose to go the modern route or stick to traditional furniture that is accurately representing how the people that created the cuisine eat their food, but you should never go for both. This would create a very dissonant vibe in your restaurant, one that your customers would find confusing.
There is no need to shake your furniture paradigm up too much either. Most restaurants offer the same table and chair setup, and you can differentiate your interior décor by opting for aesthetics that can indicate the exotic nature of your cuisine as well. Ornate carvings and decorations are a big part of ethnic dining. You can also get in touch with specialist carpenters that can craft furniture that would look the part instead of just playing it.
If you need an example, let’s take Chinese cuisine for starters. What are some things that people associate with Chinese cuisine? Dragon imagery comes to mind, so by adding a few dragon carvings into your tables you can you can help customers make the connection and feel like they are enjoying a much more immersive experience.
Similarly, restaurants offering Indian cuisine can use Mughal imagery which is famously associated with Indian culture over the past few centuries. You can use the aforementioned table seating option as well, although opting for regular dining arrangements and supplementing them with symbolic representations of ancient Indian artworks can make your eatery seem more palatable to somewhat conservative customers. It’s important to cater to all niches because it’s unlikely that a single niche would be enough to sustain you. Something as simple as an elephant or a sand painting in the classic Mughal style can be a very cost effective way of making your eatery more obviously ethnic without alienating fussy patrons.
Remember that furniture plays an outsized role in determining the future of your restaurant. It leads to more enduring relationships with customers and can convert some first time visitors into regular as well. Juxtaposing a foreign feeling menu with furniture options that customers are used to can be useful in its own right, but don’t be afraid of branching out either because you never know when you might start the next big furniture trend. Testing out your furniture by sitting on it to get a feel for it can help make the best choice for obvious.