Are Equipment Upgrades Part of Your Restaurant Ambience Recovery?

As restaurants across the country start to recover and recalculate, upgrading outdated audio, visual and security systems might be worth considering. When they feel comfortable, people will return to sports bars and restaurants for food, drinks and the "big games" on television.

Audio Systems

The  audio systems in these businesses are critical and owners can fail miserably very quickly if it isn’t designed and engineered properly, Jason Fischbeck, professional installer of commercial entertainment systems and owner of Automated Environments said.

“Bar owners want people to feel the aspect or theme of the restaurant when they first walk through the doors,” Fischbeck said. “Having the correct audio system helps with this.

By putting in the right system the patrons will be able to have conversations and be able to enjoy the light music playing in the background. This adds to the ambiance of the restaurant and creates the mood that the owner is looking for.

“The biggest way to capture the mood is the audio,” Fischbeck said. “The first thing people will notice when they walk in is the music ambience, then they will look around and see the lighting and then the televisions.”

The layout of the restaurant plays an important role in the design of the audio system. If the restaurant has pendant lights then the owner should install the same style speakers instead of big subwoofers and other speakers that don’t fit the space.

“You want to fill your space with what suits your restaurant,” he said. “You don’t want a system that isn’t suited for your space because this can just create noise and ruin the whole feel of the restaurant.”

By understanding what fits your space you will be able to allow for a comfortable experience for the customers. If the music is too loud, due to installing the wrong system, then customers will be speaking over the music and this create noise that isn’t suitable for most restaurants and bars.

Visual Systems

The second aspect that bar owners should pay attention to is the video system.

When deciding on visual system upgrades the owners must decide how high-tech they really want to go because there are different tiers that can be installed into restaurants and bars.

“There are many ways in which you can upgrade your video system,” Fischbeck said. “The amount of televisions, if you want a video wall, the way the video and audio systems work together are all important aspects you want to know when deciding what is right for your restaurant.

Understanding the audience for your bar or restaurant is key when deciding on the best video system for your establishment. 

“You have to understand your customers,” he said. “Do they prefer watching the football games on Sundays or is it a more diverse crowd where you need some other form of content playing while the games are on so you can provide entertainment for everyone?”

Installing multiple televisions is important, but recently video walls have become more popular in sports restaurants and bars.

“These walls provide a great viewing experience for sports but these can also be used to help you advertise drink and food specials you are offering on any given day,” Fischbeck said.

Tabletop Devices

Adding tabletop screens is also becoming increasingly popular because it adds an extra form of entertainment for the dining experience.

“Gaming displays are important to look into,” he said. “For example, a husband may want to go out with his friends and then suddenly everybody decides to do a couples night. Some of the people may not be interested in sports, so you can cater to those customers by having these gaming apps on the table devices and this will allow those customers to have an entertaining experience as well.”

Lighting and Security

Finally, the lighting and security systems are important.

The lighting adds to the ambience of the establishment and the security systems protect your from break-ins and employee theft.

“Many bars serve high end alcohol and the bottles are locked up in certain rooms or areas,” Fischbeck said. “The owner will want to secure these areas and key card access and code pads are crucial to providing the best security for these important areas within the establishment.”

These systems can be controlled completely from handheld devices and are very simple to use. An easy to use application can be placed on your phone to control the lights, audio, video, the shades, and most importantly the security system.

“When using a handheld device, such as an iPad or smartphone, the owner can be notified whenever a key card or number pad is used to enter high security areas,” he said. “This allows the owner to keep track of all of the traffic in these areas and if people are in these areas when they shouldn’t be.”

There are many different ways to upgrade the technical systems in bars and restaurants but understanding the customer base and focusing on the overall feel is key when deciding on which systems the owner wants to focus on upgrading.

“When deciding to upgrade the systems in your bar or restaurant you need to focus on the ambience first and if you do that the other aspects will easily fall into place,” Fischbeck said.

Sanitization Upgrades

As restaurants begin opening back up with customers inside the facilities it is important for these businesses to have implemented the proper social distancing and sanitization procedures to keep employees and patrons safe.

John Waters, President and Owner of Waters Business Consulting Group, LLC said, this is the most important aspect of upgrades and updates that restaurants and bars need to be focused on at this time.

“What bars and restaurants need to be doing right now is making sure customers know they are open,” he said. “Updating their websites and letting people know what they are doing and are current in what the state and CDC require for their business to open back up.”

If businesses have been long overdue for updates to flooring, paint and carpet then proceed in spending capital cautiously but now is really not the time to take care of these upgrades unless you can show that these upgrades are part of the larger cleaning and sanitization focus.  The real focus and priority needs to be on the sanitization of the restaurant and letting customers know they are entering a clean and safe place, said Waters.

“These restaurants need to let people know they have the best practices in place for their patrons and many times this is just explaining how they are cleaning the utensils, glasses, the cookware and to also let the patrons know what the employees are doing to practice safe hygiene in order to keep everyone safe.”

The upgrading process relies on the business owner and what they choose to take priority during the shutdown due to COVID-19 but focusing on health safety should be the key focus at this time.

“Again, use this time and capital of upgrading to promote sanitization, social distancing and how the restaurant or bar is following these guidelines and implementing these factors into the upgrade process.”