Whether through the layout, decor or menu items themselves, modeling a restaurant to be “Instagrammable“ doesn’t come cheap. Still, it’s a risk worth investing in, says Ryan McIlwraith, executive chef at Bellota, a wood-fired, Spanish-themed establishment in San Francisco. “Spending a few extra dollars for how your food and restaurant look [now] will pay off in the future,” he says. Bellota features an open kitchen, complete with a wall of hanging jamon iberico (cured ham) and custom lamps that illuminate the 25-seat bar, allowing guests to control the lighting for their perfect photo, McIlwraith says.
At Media Noche, Barker, Markoe and even the flamingo mural on its outside wall embrace the high-risk, high-reward attitude. Though the operators were worried the mural would pigeonhole the joint as a feminine space, Barker says, they were thankfully wrong. (Men now make up majority of their visitors.) “Don’t be afraid to go big, whether for color or patterns,“ Barker says. “People are attracted to different; be as bold as you can go.”
Dirty Bones, a four-unit, American-themed cocktail bar in London, has taken social media readiness a step further by investing in Instagram kits for its customers. Upon arrival, guests are given a portable LED light, a multi-device charger, a clip-on wide-angle lens, a tripod and a selfie stick, all to help them take the ideal Instagram shot. “If you’re making sure every guest has the best possible experience in your restaurant, it’s only natural that they’ll want to share that experience with their friends and family,” says Cokey Sulkin, founder and director of operations at Dirty Bones.