5 inspirational ideas for modern restaurant exterior design

Modern restaurant exterior design has no hard rules, but there are certain characteristics of this style that tend to be more common. Modern exterior design often focuses on clean lines, simple but stunning architecture, open and airy spaces, creative use of building materials, and the idea that less is more. Modern restaurants are deceptively simple looking at first, but upon further investigation you'll find that the exterior was carefully planned to meet a purpose or function.

Here are five different examples of modern restaurant exterior designs that align with many of the values mentioned above.

1. Wide glass window walls enhance the atmosphere

restaurants exterior designs

(Elbstrand Resort, by Gerkens Garten- und Landschaftsbau, photo by Rene Sievert)

As mentioned above, a common theme in modern architecture and design is openness. You'll find that a significant number of modern restaurants have large windows or glass walls. The Elbstrand Resort, pictured above, is a beautiful example of successfully using expansive glass panes to create a modern and open feel.

All floors of this resort, including the restaurant, have walls that feature large glass panels and/or working glass windows. You'll also note that on the second- and third-floors the safety railing along the balconies are also glass. Glass walls look very attractive and inviting to guests. They also offer the function of bringing in more natural light, which is very important for both modern and sustainable designs.

The Elbstrand Resort is also a good example of mixed media when it comes to exterior building materials. You'll see brick, Kebony modified wood, glass, and metal all present on the exterior, yet they all work very well together.

2. Uniquely-shaped buildings are fascinating and memorable

modern restaurant exterior design

(Onda Restaurant, by Alliance and MAPT)

Crisp, clean lines are the key to giving a restaurant exterior a modern vibe, but that doesn't mean you're stuck with gable roofs and rectangular buildings. Shown above is the Onda Restaurant, an eye-catching example of modern architecture at work. This unique restaurant, aptly named after the Spanish word for "wave", has a curved wall and flat roof design.

Kebony modified wood was used as the cladding and has aged enough to develop its lovely silvery-gray patina. The vertical and slanted placement of the boards adds a visual illusion of great height while the shade of the Kebony makes this restaurant siding looks perfectly weathered.

3. Expandable building extensions offer flexibility

small restaurant exterior

(The Babylon Beach Club, in Istanbul, Turkey)

This restaurant/beach club has a hidden secret. At first glance you might think this charming gable structure is attractively simple, with its vertical Kebony siding and a framed glass end wall. These things alone align it with a traditional modern style, but the architect gave this building flexibility in the form of an extendable wall.

The glass face of this building actually rolls out along tracks to create an even larger covered space for guests. This idea can work very well for more casual modern restaurants, particularly those that are located in regions where the weather isn't always ideal for outdoor patio seating. When it comes to marrying form and function, this expandable building is on point.

4. Cozy dining nook with eco-friendly elements

restaurant exterior design ideas

(Publiko restaurant, photo by Publiko)

Even if you have a small restaurant exterior space it doesn't mean you can't include a modern appeal. This cozy dining space outside of the Publiko Restaurant is perfectly designed to invite patrons to dine outside while also maintaining a private feel and a great display of making the most out of a small space, which is ideal for metropolitan restaurants.

The wood on the porch, chairs, bench seating, and the surrounding half walls are all made of Kebony modified wood. This durable material is a very attractive wood option, just as suitable for furniture as it is for decking. The metal chairs have a powder-coated look and are fairly simple in design. Furthermore, the addition of plants to make up one half of the perimeter gives diners privacy from passersby on the street. Overall, this approach to a compact space was done very well and serves as a great example of  modern exterior designs.

5. Bring the indoors out with covered outdoor bar and dining

modern restaurant design exterior

(Tommy Bahama Restaurant Bar & Store, by Stopperknot, photo by Tommy Bahama)

The trend of blending indoor settings with the outdoors is just as present in modern restaurant exterior design as it is in other styles. This Tommy Bahama covered bar offers patrons overhead protection against the elements but is built without walls to prevent restricting views and hindering the breezy atmosphere. Both the interior and exterior of this extension are clad in Kebony modified wood.

A permanent modern outdoor covered bar like this one would work well in warm or mild regions. Another option would be to install accordion folding doors that could be closed during colder seasons or less than ideal weather. Glass folding doors would be a great choice as they'll let in plenty of light.

A great way of finding inspiration is to browse modern restaurant exterior design photos, like the ones featured here. You'll find that many modern exteriors have similarities, but that it's completely possible to design a restaurant that is totally one-of-a-kind while still maintaining a modern aesthetic.  

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