How to Choose the Right Music For Your Restaurant

How tunes play a big role in your restaurant...

In dining today, the relationship between the sights, sounds, tastes, touch, and smells and how they affect our perception of the food and the overall dining experience, is not only real, but it’s vital!

Studies spearheaded by Charles Spence,  now prove that restaurants can manipulate the surroundings to modify diners perception of food and their behaviour at restaurants. Of all the outside stimulations that affect our perception, music is probably the most powerful. The effect of music on guest experience has been suggested to operate via its effect on cognitive and emotional processes.

In 1986, studies done by Ronald E. Milliman revealed that 70% of customers preferred stores that played music over stores that didn’t. More current studies show that the type and tempo of its restaurant music can affect the time guests spend there,  how much money they will spend, or even how they perceive the authenticity of a dish.

With the right restaurant music, you can increase brand identity and customer satisfaction and, with that, increase profit. For your benefit, we present a restaurant music guide for establishments ranging from bakeries to lounge bars:



Bakeries and baked goods are all about comfort, therefore the music at these establishments should enhance that feeling. Slow tempo, yet happy music is ideal for these environments to increase the sense of relaxation, joy and comfort.

This type of business needs more attention than it seems, because bakeries always display food items, so the music should match the food, and the lighting that gives the baked goods the spotlight.

Top Pick: Leon Bridges, Coming Home


Fast Casual


Fast casual restaurants are establishments without table service, however unlike their fast food counterparts, they serve high quality dishes with pure ingredients that are not processed or frozen. Today, fast casual restaurants are the fastest growing industry, attracting a steady millennial clientele.

Due to studies performed by Milliman in 1986 that showed that the “tempo of music in a restaurant affects the time that people spend at a restaurant, such that individuals dining under the fast music condition spent less time at their tables, ” fast casual restaurants that want to generate a “fast” turnover rate, should play fast tempo music.  However, due to the concept behind the food which is imbued with purity and community, the music should still be inviting and warm, creating an atmosphere that is friendly and fun.

Top Pick: Twenty One Pilots, Heathens

Coffee Shops


Coffee shops are a place the evoke a balance of productivity and brain stimulation. Often times designed to house guests for several hours, the ambiance in coffee shops is often driven by music that has a slow and familiar tempo. What’s more is that studies made by researches of the University of British Columbia and the University of Virginia suggests that moderate ambient noise (70 decibels, like coffee shops background music) can boost your ability to come up with creative ideas. As a harbor for creativity and productivity, coffee shop music is essential for driving more business and creating a loyal following.

Top Pick: Laurel, Hurricane

Lounge Bar


In the bar and clubbing world there are several sectors, there are bars that want to promote the fast pace, party vibe and there are bars that focus on creating a lounging atmosphere. The interesting thing about bar data is that the appropriate music can increase sales and studies show that groups dining under the slow music condition spent on average, 40% more on drinks than groups dining under the fast tempo condition. This is due to the fact that slow tempo music makes us feel that less time has passed, increasing our chances of lounging for longer periods of time. Therefore ,in a bar setting that is designed  for people to sit, discourse and drink, slower tempo music is ideal. What’s more is that the night setting makes people want to feel sensual and empowered. So the ideal music for this environment is slow (but not sleepy), sexy and commanding.

Top Pick: Sevdaliza, That Other Girl

Ethnic Restaurants


In a study done by Charles Spence the impact of our perception of ethnic food was tested in conjunction with background music, it was found that, when music is used to set-up a particular ethnic context, in a restaurant, it can make food flavours appear more authentic. Hence, playing French music is likely to enhance the perceived “Frenchness” of the food and eating environment. Therefore, whether a French, Italian or Ethiopian restaurant, you can manipulate the perception of the authenticity of the food by the music you choose to play. Therefore, the most preferable music is that which is authentic to the type of food you’re serving.

Top Pick: Françoise Hardy – Le Premier Bonheur du Jour

Fast Food


In a fast food restaurants, as the name implies, speed is of upmost importance, therefore to get people in and out the door the music is often fast pace. Loud enough to keep you moving, but not disruptive. Most fast food restaurants across the world, combine fast paced music with a strong colour palette to make the customers want to leave as soon as possible.

Top pick: The Go-Go’s – We Got The Beat

Fine Dining


Similar to lounge bars, fine dining establishments want to keep guests at the table for as long as possible, because this usually means increased ordering and higher tabs at the end of the meal. If diners feel awake, yet relaxed, they are more likely to order more wine or a dessert at the end of the meal. A study, from Clare Caldwell and Sally A. Hibbert, in 1999, showed that restaurants that play slow-tempo music had customers sitting on the table for 13 more minutes, in average. That means more money spent.

Top Pick: Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra – Into Forever


Choosing the right restaurant music helps convey your brand image, can influence the dining mood and can even affect a diner’s perception of the food. As a crucial part of the successful restaurant puzzle, restaurant music really shouldn’t be taken for granted.

SimpleOrder is the world’s leading restaurant inventory management system, designed to optimize and streamline Back of House operations, reduce food waste and improve profit margins.

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