One of the most contentious issues in a restaurant tends to be the music played. Over the years I have told many a member of staff that the music is for the customer and not the staff. And I could end this article at that point.
In many ways getting the music right and, hence contributing to the overall ambiance, is as important as the food and service. If your food offering is about fast food in a young, hip environment then, surely, your music offering is going to reflect that. Likewise if your customer base is older and your food more high-end it makes sense that the music will be toned down accordingly.
It has recently come to my attention that there is a need to vary your music depending on the time of day, the season or even the day of the week. The main criteria being; know your customer. Since the reopening of our own restaurant following the Covid shutdown, we have tried to subtly rebrand. During the period of closure we changed the paintwork, the decor and some of the nik-naks. Our menu for the summer has not changed drastically and still has plenty of tapas and our more popular dishes as in previous years.
But we have also changed our music. Gone are the hits from across the decades shuffled up to appeal to all age groups and in are some more themed playlists. We are trying to create an informal setting, relaxed dining style with a strong summer vibe. However, on a wet midweek evening last week I was putting on an Ibiza Chillout Session when my wife correctly pointed out to me that our current clientele and level of business was just not going to appreciate it.
We were dining out the other evening, sitting on a terrace in the port area of a Mediterranean beach resort. The area was bustling and all the restaurants were doing a great trade for a monday evening. We had chosen a restaurant that we have been to before. The food is a step up from casual, but not fancy, the service is swift and efficient and the price is middle of the range. The terrace was busy and there was plenty of chatter – nice.
The music was more than background – good – but the style can only be described as French heavy pop/rap and possibly chosen by the young waiting staff. OK, here’s my point – it is June, the kids are still in school, so the tourist trade is people who do not need to go away during school holidays. That means there is a lot more grey hair around! Come July, with the students and the families, crank it up and blare it out.
Our own restaurant’s clientele can vary depending on the day of the week, as you would expect. On a weekend evening we get away with playing it louder and if the weather is good some Ibiza vibes or Latin/Cuban salsa. It is great to see some movement or foot tapping. But Sunday lunch is a completely different customer and we make it far more mellow with some classic jazz or soul.
For me running a restaurant is about so many different aspects that go way beyond food and service. There should always be some of the owner’s personality in there and getting the music right can help create a bridge between the food, the service and a great experience.