Coffee shops have become the new gathering place for people outside of their homes, replacing the corner bar as the place to meet. A successful coffee shop will have many elements in its design that make customers feel comfortable, make them want to linger for a while, and get them to come back over and over again. Every part of a coffee shop design can result in repeat business, if you know what your customers are looking for.
People come to coffee shops for many different reasons, and the furniture should reflect this. Some come to meet with friends, and will need larger tables with chairs or stools to gather around. Some are there for meeting one special person, and will need smaller and more intimate tables. Some come on their own simply to relax, so come larger comfortable chairs with side tables would fit in. Good lighting for reading is important, and lots of electric outlets for plugging in laptops are appreciated, as well.
Things to do
Making a coffee shop feel much like home will go a long way towards getting your customers to come back over and over. A fireplace along one wall or in the centre of the room can provide a focal point around which people will join and hold conversations. A bookshelf, perhaps added to by the shop regulars, gives lone coffee drinkers some quiet entertainment. Game tables decorated with chess and backgammon boards are naturals for people staying for a while. Quiet music is always a plus for relaxing and just enjoying the atmosphere. Put up a trivia quiz board, and have each customer guess the trivia question of the day, giving them a small discount for correct answers.
Making the customers feel like home will help them to feel as if this is "their" shop. Personalise coffee mugs and put up a shelf behind the counter to display them. Pass out colouring sheets and crayons to customers' children and hang the resulting artwork on the walls. Put up a large notice board and post frequently-taken photographs of regular customers. If any regulars are musicians, ask them to play for an hour. If your shop is near a college campus, decorate with school logos. Make the shop a part of the community, and customers will make it a daily stop on their schedule.
Make it seasonal
Decorate your shop according to the seasons. Let the customers decorate your Christmas tree. Put out baskets of artificial flowers in the spring. Hang autumn leaves in the fall. Find coloured mugs to use on holiday weeks: green for St. Patrick's Day, red for Valentine's Day. Keep the decorations simple, but constantly changing. Your regular customers will think of this as another home, so decorate it like it is.
Keep your wall decorations homey, simple and personalised. Take pictures of regular customers in their favourite seat and frame and hang them. Name drinks after customers and create plaques celebrating them. Hang black and white photos of the neighbourhood, from past and present. Take a large group picture of all team members, and have everyone autograph it. Personalise everything in your shop, and it will feel more like home.