From Bar to Dining Room: The Importance of Ambiance in Dining


A restaurant experience is more than just delicious food. While the menu items may be the star of the show, every component works in tandem to create a memorable and enjoyable dining experience for each guest. So, if one piece doesn’t work or is missing, the entire business could suffer.

One crucial element of any restaurant is it’s ambiance and atmosphere. While it can be hard to define, it’s one of those things that guests notice immediately if it doesn’t match the menu. So, let’s break down the importance of ambiance and how restaurants can use it to their advantage.

What is Ambiance in Dining?

The ambiance is essentially the mood and style of the restaurant. While many unique factors can contribute to the overall ambiance (more on those later), they collectively leave an immediate impression on the guests as they walk in.

For example, a casual ambiance may use simple, colorful tones and popular music to put people at ease and help them relax. A fine dining ambiance may use classical music (or a live musician) and soft lighting to create a more elegant experience.

Why Does Ambiance Matter?

Studies have shown that customers pay more attention to ambiance than anything else. For example, in a 2017 study, ambiance made customers more willing to pay higher prices, allowing high-end establishments to improve sales year over year.

Another study in 2019 reinforced this idea, as guests considered ambiance the most important factor when comparing similar restaurants. Even during the COVID pandemic, ambiance helped set top performers apart, with some restaurants seeing improved sales simply because they had a better ambiance than their competitors.

On a more personal level, ambiance matters because it forms the guest’s opinion before they even sit down to order. For example, if a restaurant looks elegant, it primes the guest to expect better service and higher prices for gourmet meals. If the ambiance is loud, casual, or messy, customers will assume everything is dirty and may not even want to eat there.

Types of Ambiance

For a restaurant to master its ambiance, it has to know which options are available. While each restaurant is unique, most businesses can fall within one of three main categories:

Fine DiningFrench cuisine has long been associated with fine dining, but many other types of food can also fit this classification. Guests expect elements like soft lighting, instrumental music, and high-end décor in a fine dining establishment.

Fast Casual—Many restaurants, especially chains, fall into this category. Guests expect simplicity, cleanliness, and bright or neutral color schemes. In this case, speed and convenience are often preferred.

Hip/Trendy—Trendy restaurants cater to the mood of the moment. Some modern trends include deconstructed dishes, farm-to-table menus, and fusion cuisine. These places also often feature modern music and artwork.

Factors That Influence Ambiance

Ambiance is a collective mood, so each element within the restaurant can affect the overall result. Here are some of the most important factors influencing an establishment’s ambiance.

Music—Music is a great way to fill the background with pleasant noises. It can sometimes even influence sales, inspiring guests to splurge on items like dessert. Just make sure the music matches the restaurant’s tone and is not too loud to be overwhelming or off-putting.

Décor—Cocody offers bright, modern décor that elevates your meal. White polished surfaces inspire elegance and simplicity. Crystal ornaments reach down from the ceiling like dazzling gems. Soft, neutral colors catch the eye without overwhelming the senses. Gold accents add a touch of luxury to the scenery. 

Lighting—While most fine dining establishments use soft lighting, Cocody is bathed in white light. We offer a bright and positive ambiance that helps enhance every bite. 

Plates/Cutlery—Expertly designed plates accentuate each dish while making the dining experience practical and simple. Cocody doesn’t reinvent the plate, but we do utilize it more effectively.

Technology—Technology permeates our everyday lives and can add to the ambiance. For example, texting guests when their table is ready allows them to sit at the bar. Similarly, pay stations at the table empower customers to order more food or handle their checks faster. These solutions typically work well for fast-casual and trendy restaurants.

How Cocody Offers the Best Houston Fine Dining Experience

If you’re looking for the best French cuisine and fine dining experience in Houston, look no further than Cocody. Our restaurant offers a modern and refined take on French classics, and we know you’ll enjoy every minute of your stay, whether you’re just here for drinks or want a full three-course meal. Make your reservations today and experience Cocody for yourself.