When asked to name the biggest front-of-the-house restaurant design mistakes they see in the wild, rd+d readers had plenty of opinions, but bad acoustics topped the list with 28% of respondents citing this issue in the magazine’s August pulse survey.

Design pet peeves were plentiful among rd+d readers. Poor traffic flow was the worst design mistake for 22% of respondents. And bad lighting was a particular pet peeve for 19% of respondents. Use of low-quality materials was the worst front-of-house mistake for 15% of readers and, finally, 11% felt inconsistent branding was the worst.

The final 5% opted to fill in the blank with an original hot take. Their answers included bland finishes, poor coordination of mechanical elements, mismatched flatware and plates and several people gave answers that were a variation on spaces with an overall bad atmosphere for guest retention. These include being uninviting, not feeling comfortable, and thrown-together elements.

rd+d’s ongoing research project periodically surveys qualified subscribers on the state of restaurant development and design. This survey was fielded in August 2023.