Outdoor Restaurant Lighting That Leaves a Lasting Impression

September 18, 2021

As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes. We are enticed by the presentation on our plates as we eagerly dive in for that first bite. Similarly, when we arrive at a restaurant, we always notice the outdoor lighting and how comfortable it makes us feel. It’s easy to spot the restaurants whose owners pay just as much attention to their outdoor lighting as their indoor lighting. These places provide a unique atmosphere, highlighting the originality of their patios and dining decks.

Whether you’re out for a casual meal and a cappuccino, or enjoying a full-service fine dining experience, it’s all about ambiance, and that transpires with expert lighting.

Curb Appeal

A portion of a restaurant’s marketing and advertising can be done from the roadside! An eye-catching outdoor lighting design can do wonders for attracting patrons. Your property’s attractiveness, signage, and individuality all contribute to its curb appeal. Think about your property’s architectural features and spaces. Outdoor lighting can elevate roof-top dining, draw attention to features like fireplaces, water fountains, and sculpture gardens. Popular areas to highlight are outdoor bars, indoor/outdoor hybrid spaces, greenery, and custom artwork or murals. These elements create your personal brand, leaving first and lasting impressions for your patrons.

Ambiance and Function

We can agree that each aspect of your lighting design elicits a specific, targeted effect. Your lighting scheme should serve these areas – ambient, task, and accent lighting. Ambient lighting, also called general lighting, provides overall illumination. Ambient lighting sets the tone of your space and can be created using natural light and electric overhead fixtures. It allows people to see and move around easily and comfortably. Task lighting is direct illumination that’s ideal for detailed task work. Task lighting allows guests to read their menus and servers to see important items at their stands. It’s particularly important for outdoor bars, prep areas, and grilling areas. Accent lighting draws attention to key focal points and its primary objective is aesthetic. It is especially suited for outdoor dining where the goal is to display special architectural features and foliage. Look for a future blog from Mobile Illumination where we discuss in detail the 3 layers of ambient, task, and accent lighting..

Property Lighting Techniques

The goal is to highlight the features that make your place special. Try backlighting natural greenery such as bamboo or trees to add depth and drama. Wall washing can be used to illuminate flat walls to create visual uniformity which draws attention to the wall’s smooth vertical surface. This landscape lighting technique is used to produce the illusion of space, making the wall or building feel larger. The opposite of wall washing is wall grazing. Wall grazing enhances a wall’s texture by creating shadows. Place directional lights close to the wall at a narrow angle to draw the eye to the wall’s texture through shadows. This technique can be used on a variety of surfaces such as walls, trees, stone pillars and columns, and statues.

Select the Best Lighting Design

You’ll want to tailor your outdoor lighting design to suit your restaurant’s style and specific theme. You can use color to produce different effects. For instance bright, blue lights communicate a professional, clean atmosphere. However, if placed incorrectly, these cool lights can actually make your restaurant’s plated food look washed out. Urban, contemporary outdoor spaces can make great use of quintessential industrial lighting. While warm, soft lighting is ideal for romantic dining.

Use string lights to create a lively, vibrant atmosphere. Guests will want to stick around after their meals to enjoy coffee, desserts, and drinks if the environment is comfortable and enjoyable. Mobile Illumination specializes in overhead string lighting and it’s the perfect way to add sophistication and to provide soft functional lighting.

Decorative accents like tabletop flameless candles add a relaxed, whimsical mood and like candlelight, they also offer enough light to read the menu.

Imagine the vibe beneath a bold, eye-catching chandelier! Outdoor chandeliers add a sense of radiance and glamour to any outdoor dining area.

Install track lighting along the outside of your restaurant and in patio ceilings for a subtle lighting scheme. The fixtures will easily recede into the background while creating effective ambient lighting.

Safety and Security

Appropriate outdoor lighting is essential to the safety and security of customers and staff. Including pathways from the parking lot, walkways to your restaurant, the footpath to outdoor dining, and then back inside to the restrooms. These areas need to have visibility to avoid trip hazards. The trick is to see the lighting – not all the fixtures. Be sure to expertly conceal wires and fixtures into the landscape, such as trees, roof soffits, and other hidden areas. You will also want your outdoor lighting to serve you after hours. Outdoor sensory lights are recommended for restaurants to deter intruders after closing.

Partner with Professionals

Besides the necessary skills and experience it takes to accomplish successful outdoor lighting for your restaurant, lighting professionals will know your city’s codes for commercial properties. Professionals understand the importance of providing a welcoming, safe, enjoyable environment. Experienced designers will evaluate your space and select the right lighting design using specific wattage, color temperatures, and fixtures that will last for years to come.

Trust Mobile Illumination for your outdoor restaurant lighting. Our experts have been providing lighting design solutions to commercial properties since 2001. We consider every detail when planning your personalized scheme. Ready to get inspired? Click here to add illumination and personality to your outdoor dining space.

Want to see these landscape lighting techniques? Check us out on instagram! 

Have Any More Questions?

We’re here to help! Give us a call and we’ll answer any questions you have about your string lighting.