Strengthening your brand image with customers can be as simple as flipping a switch. Just ask Saladworks, where executives at the Conshohocken, Penn., headquarters discovered that under its monochromatic mood lighting, customers thought the lettuce and produce featured in their salads was bagged. In fact, it’s chopped fresh daily.
So, the 104-unit franchise hit the drawing board to produce a new prototype that focuses greatly on lighting, adding two overhead skylights (with bulbs in) to accomplish that bright, fresh feel. Additionally, the fronts of all future Saladworks locations will be all glass to bring in more natural light.
“Based on client input and observations, fast casual restaurants in general tend to have a little more mood lighting, especially in the evenings,” said Rick Farrell, president of EcoTek Lighting in Lake Forest, Calif.
Like Saladworks, officials at The Original Soup Man in New York City believe that trend may be turning.
“We find that brightness lends itself to positive merchandising. Particularly these days you need to go that extra mile, which is to provide the guests with an upbeat feeling,” said Tom Romano, vice president of business development for the fast casual concept. “They come not only to enjoy a good meal, but to look for something that will make them feel good about the entire experience.”
The Original Soup Man typically locates in strip centers, which offer rectangular shapes 80 feet deep. On a technical level, the trick is to make sure the lighting is balanced as gaps in this expanse play tricks on customers’ eyes. The restaurant also down-lights the soup kettles at the counter so hungry consumers can see the shiny stainless steel and steam rising from the pots. It also pays close attention to down-lighting its salad case for optimum color.

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