There are many factors that go into a great restaurant or bar. Maybe it's a great happy hour or a fabulous hand-cut steak, but what about atmosphere? Restaurants and bars should be a welcoming place where people feel comfortable and relaxed. Harsh lighting, outdated audio video, or lack of privacy can turn an otherwise nice place into a place I can't wait to get out of.
Although you may not notice if a restaurant has Sonance speakers or a Lutron lighting system, you will notice if they have low quality fuzzy speakers or poor lighting. I remember being at a local restaurant a few months back and noticing how great the speakers sounded on the patio. Upon further investigation, I discovered they were Niles speakers. I'm sure restaurant or bar owners would much rather have their customers have a reaction similar to mine rather than thinking how terrible the audio sounded.
Lighting is another factor that is crucial for ambiance. Have you ever been in a restaurant with blinding overhead lighting? Or maybe the lighting was so dim you had to use a flashlight to even figure out what you wanted to order for an appetizer? With so many options for great lighting systems on the market, I see no excuse for poor lighting in restaurants and bars anymore. Not only does automated lighting create a warm relaxing atmosphere, it also makes things much easier for staff and management to be able to control the entire system with one device or even program light settings to automatically change.
Shades and drapery also seem to be overlooked by most restaurants or bars. I know I've been in several restaurants where a server or manager had to come reach behind a customer to adjust the blinds by a table. I would much rather have a manager come by with a remote and lower the shades instead of reaching over me mid-meal.
The last thing that kills me about some restaurants and sports bars are outdated televisions. This is especially a deal-breaker for sports bars. Who wants to watch a game on an outdated TV circa '99 when the sports bar across the street has 60 inch flat screen HD TVs? I'll take the 60 inch flat screen, thanks.
I challenge you to notice what kind of lighting, audio/video, and shade systems your favorite restaurant or sports bar has next time you visit.