Restaurant Decor Clichés We’re Tired Of | Open Letter

By Sarvesh Talreja August 31, 2016
Illustration: Brandon Joseph

Anything in excess is bad, especially if you can see the same versions of it at every damn restaurant you visit. We’re calling out bullshit on some of the city’s most boring trends in restaurant interior design.

brick wall

Enough staring at exposed brick walls. Image:

Exposed Brick Walls

The first time you walked into Cafe Zoe circa 2010, it was a nice touch to see brown and grey exposed bricks form a wall under the city’s best skylight. Now, half a decade later, we’re aching at the sight of every unfinished wall. Half-assed attempts like applying a white coat of paint aren’t grungy or rustic anymore, but look lazy and uninspiring – because they’re everywhere! We’d like to see walls with some elegance along with our 200++ buck coffee.



Bistro chairs, done to death. Image:

These Steel Chairs
Remember that cool new bar? The one with heavy, stainless steel chairs in many colours? Or was it the cafe and bakery which tries to make vegetarian macarons?
We’re finding it harder every day differentiating between a few restaurants, all typically shy of 500 bucks a meal, probably exchanging chairs at midnight for fun. You know the ones, with bright orange, red, yellow, and maybe green. It’s time for design spine in our back support.

We really like the colour, and we get it. In a city like ours with limited space, of course you want your restaurant to look bigger. But really, is there no other way to do it? Here’s what an overdose of white paint reminds us of: vanilla ice cream, funerals, and that time we wore a crisp shirt in the same colour, and then dropped spaghetti on it. Please spare us the colour of the bread we don’t order any more.

Would a real ceiling hurt anybody? Image:

Actual ceilings
We all like the idea of looking up to the heavens: an idyllic space without Juhu Circle levels of traffic. But when we look towards it at your restaurant, we see wires and industrial air-conditioning vents instead. Sometimes, we see a thin, red pipe, but we don’t know what it’s for. Can you please cover up the skeletons in your closet? Thx.

Dim orange bulbs
Yes, we’re particularly guilty of being a cliché when it comes to this: Instagramming our food.  To keep doing this, we need good light, preferably not coming out of yet another bulb. Sure, we can use a software and multiple filters, but isn’t it good hospitality meant to make our life easier? Plus, on most nights we do like the idea of being with a date that looks great, and it would be lovely to see them well.

Cutting chai glasses
If I wanted to drink from a small glass that serves sweet, miniature servings of milky tea, I’d go to that shop. It’s annoying to see cutting chai glasses serve pickles, shots with too little booze, and worst of all – water. Nobody in their life has ever had water from a small, “cute” cutting chai glass without wanting to pick a fight with whoever’s damned idea this thing is.

What decor trends are you bored of seeing at restaurants around you? Tell us in the comments!