Restaurants, like cathedrals, are places where human psychology is built into the structure itself. Human beings regard food and eating as both communal and safe activity — few other times are people as relaxed and focused as they are at a meal. This is one among many reasons why so much significance has been attached to the dinner table over the centuries.

When designing a restaurant, regardless of the menu, a proprietor must consider these things: how a building is situated, how it looks and feels and how it communicates the psychological appeal of eating a meal with others is vital to its success. An establishment that does none of these things will have a much harder time of it.

Color Theory

The next time you visit a fast food establishment, take a look at its logo. Chances are you’ll find your favorite spot uses colors like red and yellow in its packaging and even in its interior decorations. The reason for this is rather simple: colors affect human psychology.

Put simply, red makes people hungry. Yellow makes people anxious. Anxious, hungry people are likely to spend more on nine-dollar-a-pound potatoes and drinks sold at a 1000% markup. Granted not all restaurants want their customers to be quite this high-strung, but if you’re trying to sell billions of meals, it certainly helps.


Green is the color of prosperity. That is one of the primary reasons that restaurants with pricier fare make liberal use of indoor plants. When the family is nestled among the big leafy plants and enjoying their meal together, it often elicits an emotional reaction which will encourage customers to come back again for the same experience. Most people will find green used in a variety of contexts meant to convey peace and plenty. Consider your local golf course for instance.

Soothing Lighting

The fastest way to ride a restaurant business into bankruptcy is to install the same lighting used by the DMV. When eating a fine meal, people do not want to be stimulated by bright lights and loud noises. They want to concentrate on the company and the meal. This is why the most expensive restaurants are often lit sparingly and bereft of any source of distracting noise.

The restaurant business is very much like dating. It is an endeavor built almost entirely on understanding human psychology and conveying emotions.