An evening out on the town with a group of friends or your significant other should be an enjoyable experience. The lighting at an establishment can be a subliminal determining factor of your choice for the evening. If you are celebrating a special occasion, such as a birthday, you may want to choose a venue that has a vibrant lighting effect. On the other hand, if you are going out for a date night or anniversary, romantic lighting is preferred.
During the past several years many restaurants and bars have been purchased by investors. As a result, many of these establishments have undergone significant upgrades, or they will soon. This includes landscape lighting. When designing lighting for restaurants and bars it is important to remember that the goal of this lighting is to draw people in and create more business. Light levels and Kelvin temperatures at these commercial establishments will differ from those of residential properties. In some cases, this might require the use of different colors. Draw on your experience and create a “Wow” factor for the new owners.
Architecture. Consider different beam patterns that can illuminate walls and other architectural accents. Architectural accents can include pillars, turrets and artwork. Keep in mind the color of the architecture. As with residential jobs, lighter colors will reflect light and darker colors will absorb light.
Signage. The sign is of optimal importance to any business owner. New customers will not come to a restaurant they cannot find! Any wise entrepreneur will understand the criticality of sign illumination. Different signs will have different illumination requirements. For example, raised-lettered signs might need to be backlit with sign lighting modules or strip lights.
Sidewalks and entry portals. Moving away from the building, it is very important to consider traverse lighting, which is lighting to travel or walk by. You may need to check city codes for commercial illumination requirements for foot traffic. A specific foot-candle and Kelvin temperature requirement might need to be followed. You will also need to look at the driveway entrance and exit. These portals may require sign lighting and address bollards. Portals will need to be clearly marked.
Valet stations. Some venues have valet stations, which may be built-in or portable. Built-in styles will normally have some type of roof or awning over them. This will be a good place for some directional downlights. Under the counter, consider some strip lights or hardscape bar lights to illuminate the key safe. Portable styles can be illuminated too. A quality rechargeable 12-volt battery with an adequate amp-hour rating can be used as a power source. Be sure to educate the valet staff on how to operate and recharge the battery after the sale.
Outdoor gaming areas. In many parts of the country, gastropubs and breweries provide outdoor gaming areas. Volleyball, bocce ball, shuffleboard, horseshoes and cornhole are among some of the most popular games. Since most of these areas will be used in the evening hours, it will be important to illuminate them for optimal use. Be sure to select lighting sources that are out of sight and vandal-proof. Brighter overhead fixtures might be in order. Adjust the Kelvin temperature for task lighting and recognize the fact that different games may require different lighting.
How do you branch out from your residential work and get these commercial jobs? First, you will likely need to do a little research. Find out who some of the architects are who specialize in restaurants and bar renovations. Create a dialogue with them. Schedule an appointment and show photos and videos of your work. Invite them to see a few of your previous jobs, preferably those with owners who will give you rave reviews. Getting involved with these projects may require a commercial contractor license. Be sure to check with your local registrar for advice in obtaining the proper license. Most importantly, be humbly confident in yourself and sell your expertise!
Kevin Smith is the national technical support and trainer at Brilliance LED LLC, Carefree, Arizona, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.