All About Atmosphere

Ask 4 Questions to Make Sure Your Bar’s Ambiance is on Point

Did you hear the joke about the bar on the moon? The bartender was great and so were the drinks, but customers didn’t like it because it lacked atmosphere. (Cue the guffaws!) It’s all well and good that we helped you hit your daily LOL quota (because that one definitely made you chuckle, right?), but the joke has a point: Lack of atmosphere can be a real business killer, and not just in lunar terms.

Atmosphere refers to the overall tone or mood of a place. It’s the character of your bar, the feeling that hits people when they arrive and lingers around them when they leave. When your ambiance is on point, you give your customers a positive feeling about your business.

Ask yourself these four questions to diagnose and remedy potential atmosphere issues at your bar, and ensure a comfortable experience for your customers.


  1.  Does the décor fit your business’s tone?

    You’ve put a lot of time, money, and effort into your business, and you probably have a specific vision in mind for it. Hopefully, this vision is supported by a cohesive décor design. Every detail of your business should reflect a consistent mood, underlined by your careful décor choices. If you’ve ever visited a business that left you feeling confused or a little off, it might have been that the decorator had an inconsistent design vision. You probably wouldn’t decorate a biker bar with framed pastel needlepoint art (unless your biker bar was for Biker Grannies, perhaps. Someone please invite me to visit that bar!). Make conscious, consistent décor choices to create the mood you desire for your business.


  1. Does the lighting consider your customer’s needs, and your business’s mood?

    Lighting alone can make a tremendous difference in your establishment’s atmosphere, and as such, it should be selected carefully, based on the feeling you want to evoke. Do you own a sports bar? Overhead lighting, or windows that let in natural light during day games but don’t interfere with the TVs might be great for customers. A tiny wine bar with limited seating may opt for cozier, intimate lighting with candles on the tables and a dimmer switch on recessed ceiling lights. But don’t go too dim—you want to make sure customers can read your menus without difficulty!


  1. Is the menu clear, easy to read, clean, and coordinated?

    It almost goes without saying that your offerings should be easy to find, and easy to read. . . almost. The biggest business killer is when customers can’t see what you sell, or understand it. Your customers should have the smoothest processing experience possible when it comes to reading what you have to offer. Is your menu laid out clearly, with space between each offering, and enough detail to help customers make informed decisions? If your staff report getting the same questions over and over again, your menu might not provide the information your customers want, or it isn’t written clearly enough. Also, is your menu clean? No one likes a sticky, wet, or greasy menu—that’ll definitely evoke feelings of “ick.” Better yet, consider replacing small, easy-to-ruin menus entirely with a digital drink board (TapHunter offers a fully customizable digital board that can display all of your drink options and be updated in real time, no refreshing needed. Cheers to less work!). Your patrons can see it easily, and it will always be clean, up to date, and coordinated.


  1. Does the music fit the space?

    Every business is different when it comes to sound. Your business might use a specific Internet radio channel (using a service like Pandora,, or Google Play). Become a paid subscriber to remove advertising, so that customers aren’t jolted from their good time by an ad for the newest Lexus model. Be sure to choose music that reflects the overall mood you want your business to evoke, not your personal tastes (wait until clean-up hours to turn on your favorite heavy metal band). Volume is tricky, too. You want every customer to be able to hear your music, but you don’t want it to be so loud that they can hear nothing but the music. Get some feedback from your regulars if you’re not sure. Play what your customers expect to hear when they visit your business.


Your business’s atmosphere is dependent upon your consistent decision making, a cohesive design vision, and a resolution to let the feeling you want to evoke in your customers guide that vision. Use these four questions to help you make sure your ambiance is on point so that even if your business is on the moon, customers will love it!