Describing brunch spot Friendly Toast, Boston Magazine writes, “Come for the kitschy, colorful interior, covered in vintage bric-a-brac and parlaying a campy spin on a 1950s-suburban-kitchen aesthetic. Stay for the all-day breakfast grub…” Those priorities might seem inverted, but not so for the burgeoning phone-eats-first crowd.
Exceptional restaurants always serve up great eats and provide top-notch service. Now, in addition, they must be “Instagrammable.” If the establishment serves brunch, often a “lavish meal… with both sweet and savory options,” this quality is even more important.
This phenomenon is as much about photo-worthy food as it is the design of the restaurant itself; if beautiful food is the focus, your restaurant’s interior should double as an aesthetically pleasing backdrop. Here are three brunch places with aesthetics that rise to the occasion.
1. EL&N London
With seven locations throughout London, EL&N has mastered the art of brunch. For reference, the café is so popular that they mandate a 45 minute table turnaround time, though if there happens to be a lull, customers are “welcome to extend [their] stay a little longer.”
At their largest location, the two-story Hans Crescent site in Knightsbridge, customers enter and see a large wall covered in pink flowers and adorned with pale pink carousel horses. It’s the perfect photo-op, but the seating downstairs takes the cake.
Diners eat in front of a wall filled with huge Love Hearts – like oversized Valentine’s Day candy – decorated with phrases like XOXO, LOVE YOU, and INSTA FAMOUS. Pink marble tables, plush but chic coral seats, neon signs, and booths in pink alcoves all contribute to a whimsical, one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
Naturally, their menu allows customers to eat the rainbow; according to Londonist, EL&N features “colorful cakes and pastries, posh and quirky coffees, and salads.” Expect pink muesli, pink porridge, and even pink sourdough bread with your avocado toast.
2. The Blue Box Cafe at Tiffany & Co.
Located on the fourth floor of Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store in New York City, The Blue Box Cafe brings “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to life.
Unsurprisingly, most of the café’s walls are painted Tiffany blue, and one is made of amazonite stone, a natural take on the famous color. According to Vogue, Richard Moore, the creative director of store design, intended customers to feel immersed in Tiffany.
Eater calls The Blue Box Cafe “the culmination of Tiffany’s attempt to connect with millennials and modernize the struggling brand.” As there is sometimes a 30 day wait for the restaurant, it seems they’ve succeeded in this goal.
Along with the omnipresent robin’s egg blue, the restaurant’s impeccable aesthetic mimics that of the brand’s jewelry. The brunch spot’s design is grounded in brand imagery: according to CNBC, even the table settings make use of the company’s “new line of teacups and plates.”
As indicated in the name, dining at The Blue Box Cafe feels like sitting inside one of their iconic boxes. Almost made for Instagram, their specialty item, the Celebration Cake, is shaped like this box and tied with an edible white bow. The Blue Box is currently closed as the flagship undergoes renovations, but it will undoubtedly emerge with an equally strong aesthetic.
3. Hatch Brunch
Fortunately, your restaurant does not need to be associated with a household name or have several locations to craft a memorable aesthetic. Hatch Brunch in Huntington, NY proves this point.
Closing at 3:00 PM each day, Hatch is definitively a brunch space and a particularly cheery one at that. It’s navy exterior contrasts with bright yellow front doors, and yellow accents bring the sunshine inside the restaurant.
The restaurant’s retro-modern interior design exudes happiness; a Newsday review notes that a “cluster of round, golden-yellow booths evoke both eggs and a sense of drama.” Above the bar is a neon yellow sign that reads “My Happy Place,” and, on either side of the counter, oversized images of a honey bear and bacon slices decorate the walls.
The fun décor even follows customers to the restroom where amusing phrases – “you look fine” and “what are you looking at?” – are written backwards on the wall opposite the mirror. In other words, perfect, built-in captions for mirror selfies headed for Instagram.
As for Hatch’s menu, the frequently packed restaurant offers modern takes on brunch classics from their Hashtag Tots & Eggs to their creative pancakes. An Edible Long Island article says Hatch’s “long list of exceptional pancake combinations (best experienced through signature pancake flights custom-designed by the diner) have become visual fodder for social media.”
So, what can your restaurant learn from these exemplary aesthetics?
Don’t be afraid to embrace color. Bold color choices don’t always have the same effect on space: colors can make a space whimsical, as in EL&N London, or more refined, as in The Blue Box Cafe. At Hatch Brunch, colorful accents fall somewhere in between.
Recognize that a photo op can be anywhere; from a beautiful plate to a bathroom wall, make use of every surface and detail to wow your customers.
Above all, prioritize fun when developing an aesthetic for your restaurant. Eye-catching design elements will inevitably draw customers in for a photo, but your food and service will keep them coming back.