Color Ideas for Restaurant Exteriors

Whether it's your first restaurant opening or your fifth, you want the establishment to be successful, attracting customers like, well, flies to honey.


Certainly, no formula for exterior restaurant design has complete authority, but following certain color guidelines can help ensure the restaurant's outside brings in the kind of clientele you want. . . in massive numbers.

Studies have proven that red is a color that is appetizing to most people. Red is, generally speaking, a stimulating color, and one that has also been proven to improve mood. Red is a good choice for a restaurant with a large daytime clientele. It is also an excellent option for a restaurant that is intended for children or families, as children prefer bright colors. You might choose a tomato-red or cherry-red, but remember that more subdued versions of the color also exist, such as burnt red or dogwood. If you want to encourage a natural feel, stick with red shades that are typically found in nature, or, more specifically, in food, which might include shades that call to mind blood oranges, strawberries or red peppers. Remember, too, that red shades go well with neutral colors, so any existing trim on the restaurant exterior, such as natural wood or brick, complements red nicely.


Green is another color that boosts appetite. Unlike red, however, it is considered a soothing, calming color. Deep green is a good choice for a restaurant that expects to attract much of its business during evening hours. Forest green, perhaps in combination with mahogany, suits an establishment with a slightly more serious, or formal, tone. On the other hand, you might consider lettuce-green or lime-green for a salad, taco, or vegetable juice establishment. Green is also a color that complements most neutrals, so it goes well with existing siding or roofing material.


Brown is considered appetizing, yet sobering. Many formal or dinner restaurants feature an exterior design that includes some shade of brown. Chocolate-brown may have a soothing, welcoming effect on potential diners, while mahogany can impart a sense of grandeur, signaling an impressive dining experience. Eggplant and pecan are other brown shades to consider. Brown will not clash with most existing trim, roofing or siding material, which also makes it an excellent choice. You can also use brown in combination with other appetite-inducing hues.

About the Author

D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.