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Gio Looks at Restaurant Design: How to Use Design Elements to Attract Millennials

“Millennials are poised to reshape the economy; their unique experiences will change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come.” ~ Goldman Sachs

Blue Bottle Cafe Communal table


Millennials are not only the largest generation in U.S. and world history; they’re about to move into their prime spending years. With Millennials just on the cusp of commanding huge wallet power, restaurant brands are early in the adoption curve when it comes to figuring out how to attract this generation. These young customers are not a homogenous group, and while one size does not fit all when it comes to luring Millennials to a dining establishment, there is a common theme: interest in restaurant decor and how that affects the dining experience. Studies have shown that Millennials weigh a restaurant’s atmosphere higher in importance when compared with baby boomers. Here’s a look at some design elements restauranteurs are using to capture the Millennial appetite – and their wallets.

Gathering Places
Millennials are a social generation—and they socialize while consuming your products and services. They love communal tables or furniture they can move around to accommodate social groups. Restaurants that want to attract Millennials need some sort of gathering place inside the restaurant that allows for easy and comfortable socialization.

Digital Life
Millennials have grown up with digital devices and from an early age, smartphone use has been the norm. Mobile is the technology closest to their hearts, so accommodating technology within the four walls of the restaurant is important.

Natural Elements/ Sustainability
Millennials put a premium on sustainability, the environment and companies that care and participate in green initiatives. Natural, reclaimed and sustainable materials used in design elements appeal to Millennials aesthetically and emotionally. Authenticity is important to these young consumers and restaurants that want to attract them are tapping into these trends.

Open kitchens are a common element in restaurant designs that appeal to Millennials. Being able to see everything that is going on in the kitchen creates an atmosphere of trust, reinforcing the image of authenticity and freshness of ingredients.

Distinct Decor Elements
Quirky or funky design that excites the imagination appeals to Millennials. Distinct design elements that make the décor photogenic will encourage Millennials to share their experience on social media.

Photo Credit:  Click image to view source.

GIO brings you a carefully curated selection of tile and stone products developed expressly for your commercial design projects. We not only know tile, but we also deeply understand the needs of interior designers, architects, and commercial product specifiers. Turn to us for the latest solutions in architectural surfacing for your projects. We’re here to work with you!

GIO Looks at Restaurant Design Trends: Quick Service Brands are Getting Makeovers

Good design is an imperative in today’s restaurant climate and the quick-serve sector is increasingly attuned to this reality.

Old Mcdonalds
McDonald’s when it looked like McDonald’s.

With baby boomers reporting an 18% decrease in fast food (quick-serve) restaurant visits and a 20% increase in visits to fast-causal restaurants, many quick service restaurant brands are getting makeovers–for their menus and their in-store designs. The quick-serve brands can no longer compete on cost and speed alone. Just as food offerings are evolving for today’s discerning customers, quick-serve executives are acknowledging that restaurant aesthetics are just as important. Design plays as much of a role in showcasing food as the menu board.

Quick-serve ambience has been focused on function, with plastic seating and table tops, fluorescent lighting and the chains’ branded graphics. The “get them in, get them out” mentality has reigned, but a new shift in the quick serve industry is encouraging guests to linger.  Quick service chains are are paying closer attention to design and architecture and are beginning to adopt the upscale decor of its casual-dining competitors.

Take the updated McDonald’s stores, for example:  gone are the fiberglass tables, industrial steel chairs and neon interiors. The new McDonald’s interior boasts wooden tables, plush faux leather club chairs arranged in conversation areas and muted colors replace the bright red and yellows we have come to associate with “McDonald’s.” The chain no longer wants to rush you in and out; it wants you to stick around and watch TV or tap into free Wi-Fi service as you sip a cappuccino or have a Snack Wrap. The company even ditched the hallmark double-sloped Mansard roof for a more modern look.

New McDonald's interior
Comfortable club chairs arranged in conversation areas encourage guests to linger longer.
Mcdonalds exterior
Just a suggestion of an arch graces the flat roof at the new McDonald’s.

Captain D’s is another player in the quick-serve arena that has realized they’ve really got to up their look to lead in the game.  Updated stores have a more beach-like feel, with surfboards hanging as wall art, communal seating, and bright colors and materials.  With a revamped menu and free wi-fi with additional outlets for laptops, the brand is aiming at recruiting new customers who like to be connected wherever they dine.

Captain Ds seafood restaurant interior 03
Captain D’s new look focuses on creating a vibrant coastal experience and welcoming atmosphere.


Captain Ds seafood restaurant night exterior
The inviting new restaurant exterior combines some of the traditional design elements with a blend of new features.

Across the spectrum, quick-serve restaurants are putting more weight on design because it’s become a necessary competitive advantage. Customers today are more sophisticated and have higher expectations–-and the environment where they get their food says a lot about what they’re eating.


Tile Can Play a Vital Role

Tile is a premium material for both its look and its performance. As quick-service restaurants transform interior design to be increasingly appealing to modern guests, tile’s prominence in these environments is poised to grow. Contact GIO for ideas about how tile can update your restaurant space stylishly.


GIO brings you a carefully curated selection of tile and stone products developed expressly for your commercial design projects.  Our looks cover a range of styles to transform commercial spaces. From retail and restaurants to hospitals and hospitality, we’ve assembled an assortment of collections in styles befitting the gamut of spaces you may be called to design.