The restaurant industry can be cutthroat. More and more restaurants are popping up every day in every city across the country. With this kind of competition, it’s important to do everything you can to help your restaurant stand out. One way to set your business apart is with a distinctive dining experience. There are several small details to keep in mind. Customers will both notice and appreciate them. Here are four ways you can upgrade your small restaurant to a high-quality, sit-down dining experience that all of your diners will love.

Sit in Style

Uncomfortable seating, like precarious and spindly chairs, is a surefire way to push customers away. Booths that are padded invite eaters to sit down, get comfortable, stay a while, and maybe order something extra. The longer a customer stays, the more likely they are to try more items on your menu and recommend your establishment to others.

Most people would agree that there is also something special about the corner booth in particular. It’s perfectly tucked away for additional privacy, making it the perfect recipe for an intimate date or a private party. Providing private, comfortable seating makes for a higher-quality experience for your customers.

Cushion the Menus

Don’t give away everything at once. Menu covers can be elaborate or simple but they are made to be opened. Stamp them with your restaurant’s logo and choose a material that matches the decor. Consider what impression these materials convey. Faux wood, for example, is classy and upscale. You can also use a different material for the wine list if you have one. This will help customers tell them apart. Paper or laminated menus have their place in the world, but if you want to give your guests a lavish experience, menu covers will help to set that right tone.

Set the Mood

Harsh overhead lighting isn’t flattering for anyone. It can also be jarring for customers who are looking for something more special than what they get at home. Soften the lighting and make it ambient. Don’t take it too far into “dim” territory. Add track lighting to guide staff and customers through your establishment. Keep in mind how the lighting makes your food look. Maybe your more colorful dishes have a better glow with natural lighting. Perhaps the dishes you serve are more monochromatic and would be better suited to candlelight. How your food looks in the lighting is just as important as how the rest of the restaurant looks.

Provide Service with a Smile

Waited tables make customers feel special. Someone is listening to their requests and taking them to the kitchen. Having a wait staff also gives your customers someone direct to give feedback, compliments, or complaints to.

Strike a balance between hovering and attentiveness. Wait staff should be aware of customers’ needs without being intrusive. Ask how the meal is just after it’s been served, towards the middle of the meal, and of course when the plates are cleared. You’re demonstrating that you care every step of the way. These regular intervals catch missed ingredients or swapped plates. It’s easier to make corrections without making your customers wait. The extra effort may also result in a heftier tip at the end of the meal. For an extra touch to show your diners they matter, have the manager follow up with them at least once during the meal to make sure their experience has been superb.

Even with all of these potential upgrades, you don’t have to sacrifice your restaurant’s original spirit. Remember to create the vibe that you think your specific customer base will enjoy most. Sometimes a fancier environment just enhances the experience.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

Restaurant stock photo by Trong Nguyen/Shutterstock